________________ CM . . . . Volume XV Number 2 . . . . September 12, 2008

cover Wolf Man.

Edo van Belkom.
Toronto, ON: Tundra, 2008.
153 pp., pbk., $12.99.
ISBN 978-0-88776-819-4.

Subject Heading:

Grades 6-9 / Ages 11-14.

Review by Mary Thomas.

**½ /4

Reviewed from Prepublication Copy.


Noble, Argus, and Harlan were all sitting in silence as the ranger hung up the phone.

Something had gotten into Ernie Ilson's rabbit pens, stealing two of them and killing his dog. Mr. Ilson and the sergeant were blaming it on wolves, but the pack wasn't so sure.

"Are you thinking what I'm thinking?" Noble asked his brothers.

I didn't think the change would come over the wolf so quickly," Argus said. "It's barely had enough time to heal from its wounds."

Harlan spun around in his chair, putting his back to the computer screen. "Maybe it isn't the new werewolf?"

"No?" Argus said. "What else could it be?"


Everyone who has read anything about werewolves knows that if a human is bitten by one, he becomes one. That is, he is transformed into a creature that is half wolf and half man. However, in the prequel to Wolf Man, the reverse has apparently happened — a wolf bitten by a werewolf, namely Argus, has been transformed similarly. Powerful stuff, this werewolf saliva! This wolf-derived werewolf has thus picked up some of the reasoning power of a human being, some of the manual dexterity, and a great deal of superhuman, and superwolf, strength. Also he has become impossible to kill without the use of some form of silver. In winning his fight with the wolf and saving the lost child from being killed by the pack, Argus has created a pack leader capable of understanding locks and doors and strong enough to destroy them as well as threatening enough to local residents that the men of the town are all set to shoot at anything moving in the woods.

      This is one of the interesting aspects of Wolf Man. In addition, there is an expansion of the teen relationships between the pack and the other kids at school which has been building in the previous books of the series. Some of the others now do know that the four are werewolves, and some of them just think they are really weird. As well, sibling rivalries are mounting. As a wolf, Argus is the biggest and strongest and would naturally be the alpha male, but in their human forms, his brother Noble is much more intelligent and capable. As the only girl, Tora is somewhat outside this battle for dominance and is, moreover, totally absorbed in enjoying having a real girlfriend for the first time in her life, but the third male of the pack, Harlan, apparently not anywhere in the race for top dog, finds that he also has his area of dominance. As a boy, he is the fastest runner of the three. Unfortunately, running cross-country is the thing that Argus has taken up to relieve his frustration at being forbidden to run as a wolf because of the possibility of being shot at. Poor Argus. Brawn is not winning out for him.

      So there are several strands to the story that weave in and out and in the end get semi-resolved, but the book is less satisfying than the separate bits indicate it should be. Several of the characters come across as more than a little dim, including Tora's new friend Maria who seems to think that telling her old friends to be friends with her new friends is enough to make it happen. Not in any school clique I've ever seen! The forest ranger — the pack's adoptive father and apparently a respected figure in the community — is quite frankly stupid and doesn't seem to have any notion of how to cope with either the kids or with the men of the town. "Because I say so" has never been a convincing argument. Then there is Argus, who really is so dumb that it is difficult to feel the sympathy for him that he deserves. In all, I'd say that this has been a fun series, but it's about run its course. Who knows! I've been wrong before, and the next book may be a winner. Just not this one.

Recommended with reservations.

Mary Thomas lives and works in Winnipeg, MB. No werewolves, no wolves even. Boring is good!

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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