by Guy Endore
“And thus was the silver bullet cast.”
There’s a synopsis somewhere stating this book can be read in two different ways–from a supernatural angle or from a psychological one. While there are numerous examples of the supernatural, they’re often downplayed while mental illness counterpoints.
That being said, The Werewolf of Paris is a fascinating read and easily worth the investment of time and money. It’s considered a classic werewolf story, and Dennis Wheatley included the work in his famous Library of the Occult.
Betrand is born of rape and from a young age exhibits some strange physical characteristics like hairy palms, connected eyebrows and a lack of wit that holds him back from his peers. He is constantly ridiculed and picked on as he grows up and one day succumbs to a rage that he not only can’t remember clearly the next day, he believes what he can recall to have been a dream. It begins with the taste of blood, then graves are disturbed, and eventually the body count begins to mount as his uncle and caretaker realizes something is terribly wrong with the boy. A wolf hunt ensues with no real success, traditional weapons seem useless, and soon the wolf is shot by (Uncle) Aymar with a silver bullet. The body of the wolf is not recovered, and the next day Aymar digs his silver bullet out of the leg of young Bertrand. Bertrand learns he’s able to keep the wolf at bay by partaking of the blood of his willing young lover Sophie, but he soon loses himself in Paris amidst the turmoil of civil war and moves toward his fate.
One of the most interesting facets of the novel is the character of Aymar and his love/hate relationship with Betrand. Aymar muses multiple times by the end that yes, Bertrand is a monster. Yes, he kills those around him, but Betrand’s sins are nothing compared to the death toll humanity inflicts on itself daily, especially during the conflict Paris is currently undergoing. Is Betrand really that bad? The internal struggles by both Aymar and Bertrand serve to highlight how we abhor certain things but accept much, much worse as par for the course in life.
“All wounds heal over time, and those that are not healed are covered by the grave.”