Mongrels, written by Stephen Graham Jones, is a novel about a trio of werewolves trying to survive and stay hidden from the world. This novel contains a wide variety of werewolf folklore, but with a twist. Now, to me, werewolves are some of the coolest creatures of the night, as well as the most tragic. Unlike Vampires, many people don’t consider them sexy or cool Rather, they are beasts and brutes and gross. Mongrels doesn’t shy away from this latter aspect of the wolf, but it puts it in a greater context. Also, werewolves just have more personality.
A vampire want to seduce you and drink your blood. Vampirism is about controlling others. Werewolves, on the other hand, are all about fighting the beast within. A werewolf will lose control, that’s a given. However, the trick is maintaining control as long as possible. It’s kind of like sex in that way. Both vampires and werewolves have come to represent two sides of the STD coin. They both carry a disease that passes through the blood. Vampires, however, often seem to have the choice whether or not to pass the disease to their victims. Werewolves, on the other hand, especially in Mongrels, have no such choice.
Mongrels and the Dangers of Werewolf Blood
Werewolf blood is dangerous. It turns non-wolves into a weird hybrid that will not survive. If you are born with it, you have a better chance. But, that presents a whole new slew of problems. The werewolves in Mongrels, Aunt Libby, Unlce Darren, and the unnamed narrator, are constantly on the run. The transient nature of their lives demands it. Wolves are meant to run, not settle down.
I don’t want to give too much away, so I will be staying away from too many plot details. I will say, though, that the novel moves at a crisp pace, and has moments of humor and sadness. Like any good novel should.
What I most appreciated about this novel was the deep dive into werewolf mythology and history. Sure, Jones probably made most of it up based on some research. And yes, I know werewolves are the stuff of fantasy. But, here, he has done a stand up job of offering a new take on an old monster. These characters not only feel real, but so does their curse and affliction.
Plus, I always find it fun to read a new version of a classic. I wouldn’t say the novel reinvents the werewolf story, but it definitely knocks downs some walls to create new hallways.
If you’re looking for a well written novel about one of the coolest monsters in the canon, then read Mongrels.
Have you read it? Let me know what you thought about it in the comments. Thank you for reading.