I can think of no better way to embrace your inner woman than to curl up with a good werewolf novel, so hence this curated list! I have always loved werewolf stories and their ever-changing mythology. It’s a kind of monster story I have always been drawn to, though in so many of the stories I’ve read, the female characters usually drew the short straw, often dying dramatically at the hands of the (always male) monster, or narrowly escaping with their lives, only to live on to lack development.
This list is full of personal favorites. Not all of these books are about women, many of them are not even written by women, but they are all great werewolf stories that include women who are vivid and fleshed out characters.
When We Were Animals By Joshua Gaylord
This is a werewolf book that may never use the word “werewolf” but it’s a werewolf book nonetheless. Here’s the Amazon synopsis:
When Lumen Fowler looks back on her childhood, she wouldn’t have guessed she would become a kind suburban wife, a devoted mother. In fact, she never thought she would escape her small and peculiar hometown. When We Were Animals is Lumen’s confessional: as a well-behaved and over-achieving teenager, she fell beneath the sway of her community’s darkest, strangest secret. For one year, beginning at puberty, every resident “breaches” during the full moon. On these nights, adolescents run wild, destroying everything in their path.
Lumen resists. Promising her father she will never breach, she investigates the mystery of her community’s traditions and the stories erased from the town record. But the more we learn about the town’s past, the more we realize that Lumen’s memories are harboring secrets of their own.
Red Moon by Benjamin Percy
Red Moon always reminds me a little bit of an episode of Black Mirror – not that there’s any one particular episode I can point to. It asks a question, “What would happen if werewolves were real?” Check out the synopsis:
They live among us. They are our neighbors, our mothers, our lovers. They change. When government agents kick down Claire Forrester’s front door and murder her parents, Claire realizes just how different she is.Patrick Gamble was nothing special until the day he got on a plane and hours later stepped off it, the only passenger left alive, a hero. Chase Williams has sworn to protect the people of the United States from the menace in their midst, but he is becoming the very thing he has promised to destroy.
So far, the threat has been controlled by laws and violence and drugs. But the night of the red moon is coming, when an unrecognizable world will emerge…and the battle for humanity will begin.
The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter
So The Bloody Chamber isn’t just about werewolves. It’s a collection of short stories, but a number of them are very much about werewolves and shapeshifters. It’s a Moon-birds favorite. If you’re looking for werewolves, we recommend checking out the stories, “The Tiger’s Bride,” “The Werewolf,” “The Company of Wolves,” and “Wolf-Alice.”
The Bloody Chamber puts new twists on old tales to make them much more frightening than I’d ever remembered them, reinventing “Beauty and the Beast,” “Little Red Riding Hood,” and “Blue Beard” to name a few and inventing some new ones along the way. First published in 1979, this literary gem has inspired countless writer that have come since.
St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves by Karen Russell
So this is another story collection and coincidentally a Moon-Birds favorite, it makes the list, not for having so many werewolf stories (although it’s a great read from start to finish), but for the titular story “St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves.” Here’s the Amazon synopsis:
In these ten glittering stories, the award-winning, bestselling author of Swamplandia! takes us to the ghostly and magical swamps of the Florida Everglades. Here wolf-like girls are reformed by nuns, a family makes their living wrestling alligators in a theme park, and little girls sail away on crab shells.
Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater
I know there are a lot of Young Adult Werewolf novels – I’ve read too many of them – but Shiver stands out as one worth revisiting. This is the YA paranormal romance I’m still raving about. Here’s the Amazon synopsis:
For years, Grace has watched the wolves in the woods behind her house. One yellow-eyed wolf–her wolf–is a chilling presence she can’t seem to live without. Meanwhile, Sam has lived two lives: In winter, the frozen woods, the protection of the pack, and the silent company of a fearless girl. In summer, a few precious months of being human . . . until the cold makes him shift back again.
Now, Grace meets a yellow-eyed boy whose familiarity takes her breath away. It’s her wolf. It has to be. But as winter nears, Sam must fight to stay human–or risk losing himself, and Grace, forever.
Rules for Werewolves by Kirk Lynn
Finally, last on our list is an experimental novel told almost exclusively in dialogue that is most definitely about werewolves. It’s a memorable book and honestly a lot of fun to read. Here’s the amazon synopsis:
It’s the story of a restless group of young squatters. They’ve run away from their families and their pasts, questing after knowledge of their most wild selves, roaming the half-empty suburbs of America, occupying the homes of the foreclosed or vacationing, never staying in one place long enough to attract attention, while shoplifting beer at the local Speedy Stop. They’re building a new society with new laws, and no one will stand in their way.
But utopias are hard work, and as Rules for Werewolves unfolds, these young revolutionaries discover that it’s much easier to break laws than to enforce them. Narrated in the shifting perspectives of the pack, Rules for Werewolves follows a community of drifters on the move, who seek a life in a wilderness that, by definition, has no room for them, and a freedom for which they may not be entirely prepared.