Robert E. Howard tackles werewolves


These two horror stories are tied together by a character De Montour. In the first one, he is the narrator, in the second an important character. As far I can tell, there isn't really anything interesting about him as a whole and both of these stories can be counted among the lesser tales of Howard'ss.

In the Forest of Villefere narrates a short, rather draft like story, where De Montour is riding in a darkening forest, where he meets a masked man. They travel a bit until the man is revealed as a werewolf.

Wolfshead is the longer story of the two and the one that I'd recommend of the two. While it is a bit gimmicky with its narrative, it also tries to explore the character of De Montour as well as the werewolves of the world he exists in.

This time around the story is told by an old soldier, who recalls the horrors he witnessed years ago when he was visiting his old friend, Dom Vincente, in Africa. Then he was only a young man, who still hadn't learned of the evils of the world, but there, in the bosom of the cradle of life, he found out things far darker he ever could have imagined.

It doesn't take long for strange things to happen. At first, there is a strange prowler at the estate of Dom Vincente, then there are the natives torn to pieces. Even one of the guests is killed and the tension begins to rise.

Stylistically, the story doesn't quite work. It feels a bit like an experimentation in something Howard wasn't quite sure of and in the end, didn't quite manage to pull it off. It is a shame, really, as there are interesting elements in the stories.

As a whole, De Montour stories might have worked better as a single, longer narrative. They both are heavily linked and as such In the Forest of Villefere feels like a half complete first chapter of the story.

De Montour himself finds some personality in the latter, longer tale, albeit not quite as much as to stay on his own feet. Still, with some more polish, this tale of werewolves might have been pretty interesting. But now it feels a bit half-baked.

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