Cycle of the Werewolf by Stephen King, illustrated by Berni Wrightson (1983) 128 p.
This is a bit of a weird one: a project which was apparently originally intended as a calendar telling a gradual horror story, but which became too long to be contained in such a format, and was released as a book instead. It’s published in the same A4 size as a graphic novel or comic book, but I wouldn’t call it much more than an illustrated novella, or even just a long short story. I read it in a single sitting, anyway.
You can see how it was meant to be a calendar: the story covers a full year, from January to December, with each month chronicling a fresh attack by the werewolf that has come to haunt the town of Tarker’s Mill in (you guessed it) Maine. There’s an extended chapter in July as our wheelchair-bound adolescent hero fights off the werewolf, and some more long ones in November and December as the story comes to a climax. The werewolf’s identity is pretty easy to guess from about the halfway point, although it’s not really written as a mystery.
For what it is, I liked it. I wouldn’t have gone and sought it out, but my local library had it and I thought it might be interesting, and what the hell, it’s Halloween. (Although being back in Australia reminds me precisely of why this is the most difficult holiday to transplant – in the southern hemisphere, October means lengthening days, sunshine and blooming flowers.) It’s very well-illustrated by Berni Wrightson, and it comes from the core of Stephen King’s peak years, so the writing is quite good as well, capturing that nostalgic small-town 20th century American vibe in his inimitable way. Worth picking up if you enjoy King’s writing and happen to stumble across it.