Darnley, a young aristocrat, travels to the mountains of Carpathia where he is attacked by a large wolf. He survives, and a month after he returns to England he learns that he has been cursed with lycanthropy. During his first transformation into a wolf, he feels a sense of true freedom. Darnley searches desperately for answers and others like himself. Finding none, he begins keeping a journal outlining his often gleeful descent into hell.
A great deal of the book is told through the Byronic voice of Lord Darnley’s journal, where he begins to rationalize his murders. He withdraws altogether from society, sneering at traditional values and norms. He often makes a good case; however, it is overshadowed by his increasing madness and self-absorption. Darnley becomes less human, and not entirely because of his frequent transformations into a wolf.
Ultimately, Darnley grows lonely on his isolated estate and wanders into Victorian London seeking to confide in his old friend Charles Meredith, and Meredith’s wife Elizabeth. Darnley has been in love with Elizabeth most of his life, but his condition and grandiose plans horrify her.
This is truly a gothic novel with many dark, foggy nights and wolves howling. The attention to detail gives it an authentic flavor. It doesn’t stand up to classics like Bram Stoker’s Dracula or Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, but it’s both a great werewolf story and a study in psychology.
3 1/2 out of 5 stars – worth a read on a foggy night