As pointed out - Smith's first wolfish entry - WEREWOLF BY MOONLIGHT fair screams first novel. By the time it came round for the budding pulpmeister to continue the saga ,the deranged THE SUCKING PIT was out and if nothing else RETURN OF THE WEREWOLF shows his grasp of being Guy N Smith was more assured.
But it is any good? To his credit Smith tries to bring some surprises to what is essentially a pretty hackneyed concept.We revisit the survivors of the first Black Hill foray - Gordon Hall makes a return too. Now married , he's soon back between Margaret Gunn's thighs! - who we met in book one.It's difficult to know what is being aimed for here - Hall is roughly painted as the dashing hero - but he's as moral as a rattlesnake - yet he's the only character the reader can even begin to root for .. sort of. Sex of course had now begun to feature heavily in Smith's work - which explains this chapter.
The book begins by the remains of the original werewolf being stolen from it's grave. PC baffled remains baffled - especially when it appears there are two lychanthropes on the loose - time for a few scotches. Nothing much different occurs from the first book in terms of building the werewolf threat - eyes glow , claws rend etc. The identity of the werewolf must remain a mystery - though the introduction of one new character gives a clue . The book's conclusion forms the prologue of THE SON OF THE WEREWOLF ( which I'm reading next) - Smith tries to muddy the waters though - questioning if the culprit was really a man or wolf. It occurs that these books are mere jigsaw pieces in a bigger picture and ultimately that is the best way to enjoy the series.
Post by dreadlocksmile on Jul 31, 2009 18:56:30 GMT
First published back in 1976, Guy N Smith's pulp horror novel `Return of the Werewolf' formed the first of two sequels to his debut novel `Werewolf by Moonlight'.
The tale is once again set within the rural area of the Shropshire and Welsh border. It is a year later since Philip Owen was killed by Gordon Hall's rabbit snare, after his murderous rampage during the altered state of a werewolf. Just down from the scattered farms around the Black Hill woodland where the murders took place, lies the small town of Llanadevy.
The story begins with the midnight removal of Philip Owen's corpse from the Llanadevy churchyard. The body has been dug up from its resting place in the cemetery and torn from the coffin by the powerful arms of a werewolf.
Soon enough the murders begin once again, firstly with the horrific death of the local boy Wal Morris, as he speeds back from a dance in his Mini along the quiet country lanes which lead past Black Hill. A full moon is out that night and after narrowly missing the werewolf in the middle of the lane, Morris crashes his car, only to be ripped to pieces further by the bloodthirsty werewolf.
After returning from a spot of hunting in Black Hill, Gordon Hall finds werewolf tracks in the snow surrounding his car and claw marks left across the car's paintwork. Hall decides that there can now be no doubt at all that a werewolf is once again stalking the rural land of Black Hill.
Gwynne Owen, has since recruited the help of A young lad from Birmingham by the name of Tom Davies. Since the death of his wife and son, Owen has barely lifted a finger around his farm and instead he has had Davies manage and maintain the farm's upkeep in exchange for lodgings, farm experience and a small wage.
A pair of poachers are soon scarred off by the sight of the werewolf devouring another sheep under a full moon. The local police force, led by Detective Chief-Inspector Ford from Scotland Yard, soon organise a manhunt across the area of Black Hill. With the help of the local community, they locate the buried and dismembered corpse of Philip Owen.
Vic Gunn is brought into questioning over the findings due to it being discovered on his land and buried with his butcher's cleaver. Whilst Vic and Margaret are at the police station, the werewolf enters their farmhouse in the hope of killing and raping the inhabitants. With the farmhouse empty, the werewolf burns it down after killing their pet dog.
The werewolf appears to be working out of revenge on the community. It is also displaying various levels of cunning in order for it to keep evading capture. The werewolf is not the only individual stalking the rural landscape with hatred in its eyes. The local poacher known only as `the lurker' also holds a grudge against the likes of Gordon Hall.
The desperation of the community comes to a pinnacle when Margaret Gunn is abducted by the werewolf in the middle of the night. Hall and the local police force need to act fast to locate the werewolf and save Margaret Gunn from a horrific death. But with no leads as to who the werewolf really is and the recent disappearance of The Lurker adding further mystery towards their connection, the odds are truly stacked against them.
From the outset, Smith jumps straight into the novel delivering an air of mystery surrounding the identity of this new werewolf. Throughout the tale the reader is left completely in the dark as to who the werewolf really is. This manages to keep a constant level of underlying suspense throughout the tale, which draws the reader into the storyline with so many questions hanging over the routes of this returning terror.
The gory mutilations and random midnight deaths are less frequent in this sequel compared with `Werewolf by Moonlight'. Instead, Smith has chosen to spend a large proportion of the novel building on the subplots of `The Lurker' and the rekindling of passion between Gordon Hall and Margaret Gunn, as well as playing around with the constant mystery that shrouds the new werewolf.
The tale is not however affected a great deal by this immediate lack of gory action. Smith still manages to maintain a solid pace to the tale, with plenty of twists and turns to the storyline to keep the reader gripped throughout.
As the tale builds to the final conclusion, a very surprising development to the storyline transpires. This dramatic turn of events throws the story completely, altering the way the whole premise of the novel is now perceived by the reader.
The tale ends in a reasonably satisfying manner. With the mystery now fully explained and the sub plots loosely wrapped up, Smith draws this short novel to an end.
All in all `Return of the Werewolf' delivers an entertaining and enjoyable read, that although slightly disappointing with the major shift in storyline during the last twenty-odd pages, still manages to keep the reader gripped to the many twists and turns that Smith throws into the tale.
The novel runs for a total of 112 pages and was first published by the New English Library.