Darker Than You Think (Jack Williamson)

williamsondarkerUnusual because it’s a werewolf story that isn’t just a werewolf story. The shape-shifters can take any form they can imagine, such as sabre-tooth tigers, anacondas, and others. And when transformed, they’re invisible, which makes them doubly formidable. Williamson offers a scientific explanation of this lycanthropic phenomena which is unconvincing, but imaginative. His werewolves exist not as a random force of nature, living only to kill and feed; no, they have a higher, more sinister purpose — to rule mankind.

*Spoilers ahead* While reading it I was astonished to discover that it was published in 1948! There are some remarkable theories and ideas inspired by genetics, anthropology, evolution and even modern psychology contained within the novel’s 260 pages. Will Barbee, a newspaper reporter, is waiting for the flight to come in that is bringing back some of his lifelong friends and a box containing a mysterious artifact dug up in Mongolia. A huge delay and request for heightened security after the arrival of the plane puts all the reporters on edge wondering what Mondrake, the archeologist, is up to. Mondrake holds a press conference to tell the world of his discovery in Mongolia and the dire implications it has for humankind.

Before he can tell of his mysterious discovery, he dies of an allergic reaction to a cat. Or at least that’s the story that is being published. Barbee (an indecisive hero lacking confidence) finds it interesting that another reporter, April Bell, was hanging around earlier with a cat and is now nowhere to be seen. Letting his curiosity get the better of him, Barbee meets with April Bell to figure out her story and her role in Mondrake’s death. Barbee gets more than he bargained for as he starts having vivid dreams where he leaves his body and becomes an animal, with the help of a white she-wolf. A string of deaths ensue and Barbee soon finds out what was in the box, the implications to mankind, and his role in it all.

Interesting story. I wasn’t sure what I was getting into with this one when I picked it up from the library as the description was a bit vague. It sounded intriguing enough though as it dealt with the supernatural, which I almost always enjoy. Though one of the central characters is a she-wolf, it’s not a werewolf story. It’s more of a good vs. evil story that involves those that can assume the shapes of other animals. I enjoyed the theory of how evil continues to survive through the ages. I was a bit disappointed in the ending of the story though. It felt a little rushed and I was hoping for a different outcome. Overall, still an enjoyable read.

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