Modern Classics – The Howling by Gary Brandner

I remember this book was hugely popular when it first came out – that was all the way back in 1977, and at the time I was twelve years of age. The perfect age for such stories.

I can’t recall who published the paperback here in the UK and the  internet is not being helpful with this. I know the sequel, The Return of the Howling was published by Hamlyn, but I’ve got a feeling the first book was originally (UK) published by Sphere or NEL . Nor did the UK paperback, I recall ,have the cover pictured in the first image. Of course Hamlyn did eventually publish The Howling in paperback, but this was following the 1981 movie with a movie tie-in version.

It was a great novel, though – written with real pace that dragged the reader from page to page. I remember it being quite graphic in places, with some lupine sex. The chief character Karyn Beatty is recovering from a rape, trying to rebuild her life and so she, and her husband, Roy decide to move from the city, in the hope that a change of scenery will help Karyn start living again. And at first it seems the change of scenery helps but then Karyn starts hearing a mysterious howling sound at night. Roy feels alienated from his wife and starts an affair with a local woman called Marcia who just happens to be a werewolf. Soon Roy is bitten and Karyn is stranded in a town full of werewolves.

This all leads to a breathtaking showdown against the town of loony lupines. Strange that Brandner never enjoyed the same profile over here in the UK as Stephen King, James Herbert or Dean Koontz ( who back in the day we knew as Dean R Koontz). His books, the ones I’ve read, have all been excellent, breathlessly paced and with the right mixture of  fantasy and reality.

There were two sequels – Howling II (AKA The Return of the Howling) and Howling: Echoes. I have read the second book, but have never come across the third in the trilogy. Though I think I would like to and so it’s off to eBay for a search. Maybe I’ll get a copy of all three books and revisit the world of The Howling.

I’ve seen a couple of the movies – the first one certainly but the book is much better and ain’t that usually the case.  None of the Howling books are currently available on Kindle or for any other eBook device, though there’s little doubt that they will eventually become available digitally, as more and more publishers realise this is a new lucrative market for out of print mass market titles.

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One Response to “Modern Classics – The Howling by Gary Brandner”

  1. […] starts hearing a mysterious howling sound at night.  (Vincent Stark; read the rest of the review here)   “Inspiration for the 1981 film The Howling, although the plot of the film was only […]

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