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on 23 September 2008
A full-blooded Penny Dreadful of the first water, Wagner the Werewolf is a rollicking bodice-ripper of a tale chock full of heaving bosoms, bloody murder, and plenty of derring-do. It also has a werewolf - but not really so's you'd notice.

It's almost a misnomer to label this book a horror story. Oddly - for the first ever treatment of the werewolf legend in English literature - there is surprisingly little lycanthropic action. The fact of the hero Wagner's lupine curse is almost incidental, a footnote to the main tale. It sometimes happens that there are so many sub-plots and secondary characters jostling for attention that poor old Wagner himself gets completely sidelined - at one point, scarcely a third of the way into the book, our hero is thrown into prison and does not reappear again for another seventeen chapters!

But that isn't to say that Wagner the Werewolf still isn't a darn good read, or that there is little to recommend it. Simply come to it expecting a tale of high adventure rather than gothic horror, a merry romp around mediaeval Florence (and later Arabia) with a full quotient of dashing bandit captains, imperilled heroines, dastardly sheiks and sadistic nuns. The prose is relentlessly melodramatic, sometimes veering on the downright purple, but invests the tale with enough of a sense of fun and frenetic pace that these faults can usually be overlooked. This madcap book has it all - a shipwreck, a seige, the Spanish Inquisition, a dark family secret revolving around a locked cupboard and even a cameo or two by the Devil himself...

Oh, and there's a werewolf somewhere in there, too.
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on 4 September 2013
I was expecting this to be another Penny Dreadful like Varney the Vampire. But it was so much more. I think this is the best Gothic novel that I have ever read. It is just SO wonderful. The main characters are all delightful shades of gray and all do some rather bad things but still remain the heros of the story. It has wonderful strong women characters who have agency, are clever and very independent spirits. One of the best things about this book was how free of prejudice the author was. The portrayal of a Jewish money lender was simply superb. Not only was he humanised but the anti-semitism in the culture of the time was severly slammed.

The story is a wonderful supernatural tale. There are werewolfs, Rosicrucians, an inquisition, cross-dressing, demons, the devil, evil nuns, bandits all the things you'd want to see in a gothic novel. But the heroines aren't helpless but are causing as much trouble as their male counterparts. There are many different branches to the story but it remains consistent throughout and all the interweaving tales inter-mingle in a way that makes sense and leads to a very satisfying conclusion. The end of the story revealing the mystery at the begining.

I really enjoyed the writing style. It was lovely Victorian prose. Reynolds out sold Dickens in the 19th century and I can really see why.
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on 7 March 2012
There's an enormous appetite for supernatural at the moment, however it would appear the trend was alive and well at the time of Dickens.

This book was written by my Great Grandfather and I would love to think that he was one of the many literary greats to have been overlooked for lesser writers with better publicists. Sadly, that isn't the case.

While Wagner the Wehr-Wolf is undoubtedly readable, it owes nothing to literature. It came as no surprise to me that most of my Great Grandfather's books were serialised and published weekly as 'Penny Dreadfuls'. His followers were not discerning readers.

On the 'up' side, his books, of which there were many, were translated into 27 languages and sold like hotcakes! Also, he started a newspaper which was bought by one of the 'Barons' and only went out of print as recently as 1973.

I wouldn't have read this book had it not been for the family link but his career as a writer made him a very rich man, and I'd be happy to have the same success he enjoyed. Big up to the Grt Grndad!!
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on 8 October 2006
Wagner the werewolf is the compiled exploits of Fernand Wagner,a lonely, bitter old man who is visited on a dark and stormy night by Dr Faust. Faust offers him renewed youth, a heightened intellect and unlimited wealth if he agrees to become a werewolf and accompany him for 18 months. Wagner agrees, his youth is restored and from that day he becomes a mindless, savage werewolf on the last day of each month. The rest of the story centres around Wagners attempts to find a cure while resisting the Devils offer to cure him in exchange for his immortal soul. During the course of the story he battles bandits, anacondas and endures a turbulent romance with the beautiful but treacherous Nisidia. The story is packed full of murder, treachery, suspense and hidden plots which will leave the reader guessing the fates of the numerous characters until the very end.
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on 26 October 2006
A rattling good read - it's got everything to keep you pinned to your seat just like the other reviewer said. And a really good intro too - very informative but fun to read at the same time.
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on 6 April 2008
I agree with the previous reviewer, a well-paced melodrama that ought to be more widely available to modern audiances. In terms of plot and characterization well-crafted with all loose ends tied up. What I also found appealing about this work was, in contrast to much European fiction and drama of its time, the absence of anti-semitic and islamophobic sentiments. In that sense it was rather ahead of its time.
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