Wherewolves is a horror thriller, with a hint of paranormal, and was written as a screenplay in 2010 by John Vamvas and Olga Montes. They wrote the novel, edited by award winning Canadian author/poet Shelley A. Leedahl, to get the story out whilst waiting for it to hit the screens!
“SPARKLING DIALOGUE… THE WRITING IS SENSATIONAL.” Emmy and Peabody Award winning writer, William Mastrosimone
Author(s): John Vamvas & Olga Montes
Genre: Horror, paranormal, thriller, mature YA
Date released: February 17th, 2013
Length: 304 pages
Synopsis: Using a fun, explosive style, full of new slang and fresh dialogue, WHEREWOLVES is the story of a group of high school seniors, most “military brats”, who are headed for an army-type survival weekend.
The underdogs, Jeffrey and Doris, do not want to go as they fear for their safety among the disdain and cruelty of the popular students. Sergeant Tim O’Sullivan, their teacher, as well as their dysfunctional parents pressure them into going, but it is an unforgivable act by their peers that propels the pair to go. Likewise, Elie, a student resented because of his Arab roots, is even more determined to prove himself this weekend. In the background, a news report cautions of a wanted couple with alleged super-human strength supposedly brought on by a new drug on the streets.
In the woods, the students hike, hunt, camp, and soon act in unity as the forest brings them closer together. But does it? O’Sullivan leaves them alone for the night. The students bond, chant, tell campfire tales, and quickly lose their fears and inhibitions. HOO-AH! Though sexual tensions are high, it soon turns to violence and everything quickly turns sour.
When the kids start disappearing one after the other, the remaining begin to unwittingly “act like the natives” carving spears, ready to face whatever is out there. What has gotten into them?
Amid blood-curdling growls and gruesome deaths, the story’s underlying layers are revealed. We see how misconceptions, prejudice, greed, fear, and hatred bring out the worst and best in them.
WHEREWOLVES is a thought-provoking, intense, action-packed ride loaded with plot twists that will keep you guessing:
What is out there? Can it really be werewolves?
“KEPT ME ON THE EDGE OF MY SEAT. GETS YOUR PULSE POUNDING.” Author and award winning investigative journalist, Victor Malarek
“5 stars. A MUST READ!”
“5 stars. It reminded me a bit of Lord of the Flies versus Silver Bullet but only way cooler.”
“5 stars. Finally! A thriller that is unpredictable. A real page turner that expertly knows how to balance dialogue and description.”
“Chillingly terrifying… This is one horror novel that will have you thinking long after you’ve finished reading.”
“5 stars. Great keep-you-on-the-edge-of-your-seat writing! Love the depth of the characters.”
The reader is drawn in from the beginning. The first scene is full of fast-paced action and terror as a woman runs for her life, terrified she will get caught and killed by the hairy beasts that are following her through the trees. I love a story that has this much intensity at the start, gripping the reader before they have even begun, and Wherewolves certainly does that!
We are then later introduced to the characters of the class. It is clear early on that Doris and Jeffrey are teased quite a lot by their peers. They are viewed as the class geeks, making them a target for nasty comments and pranks. Their parents and teacher, Sergeant Tim O’Sullivan, make matters even worse for the two as they are pressured into taking part on a survival trip that neither want to go on. This would leave them being surrounded by a whole class of taunters, and who knows how far they’ll go!
Jeffrey and Doris are not the only two to stand out from the rest. Elie is also recognised as different due to his Arabic roots and does receive some racist comments. Some of the main characters take it upon themselves to ensure that Elie doesn’t make it to the trip. The dialogue, jokes, mockery and bullying are certainly areas that anyone who has experienced High School will empathise with, and the strength of the modern-day dialogue will connect young and new adult readers (I would recommend 15ys+).
Once on their camping trip for their survival weekend the story begins to twist. The plot is unpredictable and doesn’t work out quite the way as expected. Is it a paranormal, or is it a teenage horror? Or both? There is the suspicion of the super-human reaction, brought on by a new drug, that has been mentioned on the news not too far from where the group are camping that may explain what is going on. But then again, amid the hills and trees, who knows what lurks about in the darkness just waiting for it’s next kill! Or, could it be that Elie has been pushed too far and decided to retaliate?
As one by one the class students are being killed the tension escalates to a higher level. The reader will have to keep on reading to find out what is happening, and who or what is being so savage. With so many class students to remember I did get a little lost keeping track of some of them as they disperse and run from these terrible beasts. This would be easier to follow if watching the screenplay and visualising them on stage or on screen.
I also felt that when reading the dialogue between the students early on it was very much like reading a script, albeit with a little more description. As a book this made the reader wait a little too long before the action really began to start up again. However, as a screenplay and watching it on stage I would imagine the atmosphere to be electric. The book may benefit in parts to a little more description and atmosphere building to create a more fluid read and even more tension.
That said, the authors do get their message across very clearly. Whilst there may be dangers out there in the world, we are a danger to ourselves. The way in which we treat each other, hold grudges, taunt and attack is sometimes the biggest beast of them all. Wherewolves shows how a group of people, some of whom can’t stand each other, can pull together during times of trouble in order to survive. And a message to the younger reader in particular is to not mistreat others. You never know who the bigger beast will be eventually, and you may need to pull together to beat an even bigger one!
Wherewolves is a lively story throughout, whether it be from the taunting and jeering between the students, or the action and horror. As it draws to an end you can really see the brilliance as everything comes together, and even areas that haven’t been explained earlier are covered later on. It is well worth the read, and I would imagine it would be fantastic to watch!
A copy of Wherewolves was provided by the author, Olga Montes, in return for a fair and honest review.
Reviewed by Caroline Barker
About John Vamvas and Olga Montes:
“IMPRESSIVE TALENT in this writing/producing/acting team”, The Winnipeg Free Press
“Montes and Vamvas continue to demonstrate their skills with SWITCHBLADE-SHARP EARS FOR DIALOGUE and hard, thoroughly believable plot lines.” The Sunday Journal
“A SEXY and EXPLOSIVE style that pulls the patrons forward to the edge of their seats”, The Edmonton” Journal
“RAZOR-SHARP LINES” SEE Magazine
Together for over 20 years, John and Olga started as an acting team but soon began to write their own scripts through lack of finding two-person plays they could travel across North America. They wrote and toured four full-length critically acclaimed plays to packed houses across Canada and the United States, including, Bad Boy, which they performed Off-Off-Broadway at New York’s Creative Place Theatre in the heart of Times Square.
In 2001, they were approached to star in and rewrite the short film, Things Never Said in Playa Perdida, Playa won the audience award at the New York Short Film Festival in 2002 and tied first place at the Festivalisimo festival in Montreal.
WHEREWOLVES was written as a screenplay in 2010. They wrote the novel, edited by award winning Canadian author/poet Shelley A. Leedahl, to get the story out while they wait for it to hit the screens!
John Vamvas grew up in one of Montreal’s (Canada) roughest boroughs. His high school teachers always told him that he’d be in jail or dead by eighteen. Thank God for the Arts. Actor, playwright, screenwriter and now novelist, he has been writing with his writing partner/wife, Olga Montes, for over twenty years. He loves words, especially dialogue, and has a lot of fun coming up with new ways to say the same thing.
Mother, preschool French teacher, avid reader, Olga dreamed of being a writer as a child and spent many high school lunch hours working on her writing with her English teacher. She has a college degree in Professional Theatre and a university degree in Spanish and French grammar and literature. She was on her way to becoming a translator for the UN when she heard of an open audition at one of Montreal’s biggest English theatres. She almost didn’t get the role, though, because the director and co-star, John Vamvas, was scared of falling in love with the actress and ruining the play. That was 1992. She and John have been writing and working together on stage, screen, and in life ever since.
Link to cover, author bios and pictures, book excerpt (first two chapters), synopsis, and reviews: www.wherewolvestheblog.com
Smashwords link: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/422814
Twitter: @WHEREWOLVESfilm https://twitter.com/WHEREWOLVESfilm
Dilly runs. The deafening beat of her panting isn’t enough to drown out the monstrous growls and trampling that rumble behind her. Though she can’t see well enough to dodge the naked branches slicing into her, the full moon’s rays help her find the path. This way, the young woman tells herself, and takes a left. Now right! Her body veers. She slams her beaten shoulder against the thick trunk of a sugar maple. Ah, fuck! The pain electrifies her cells. Like sticking a finger in a thousand volt socket. She falls to one knee. Don’t you fucking stop! Move! Move! Move! She forces herself up and implores her feet to barrel forward.
There it is! The fallen stump that looks more like a giant claw! She makes a mad dash for it, hurtles over the trunk, lands on all fours, and snaps her head back. She gasps, “Yes!” eyes on the nest-like bundle cradled between the two lower branches of the tall yellow birch before her.
She can hear whatever is out there tearing through the brush.
She leans against the tree’s peeling, gray bark and kicks at the dead leaves on the ground. Come on! she screams in her head. And at last feels the line dig into her ankle. She yanks it back hard. Click.
A thunderous roar!
She throws herself to the ground and in the next instant, a burlap sack swooshes over her.
A canine screech rips through the forest.
Dilly jolts, feels the ground, and snatches a heavy rock. She thrashes her head from side to side and strains to hear the danger, but hears only the sack’s long suspended rope creaking as it swings. She gets to her knees. A branch snaps, she spins to pitch the rock— Nothing’s there. “Breathe, girl, breathe,” she reminds herself. And inhales deeply. The prominent scent of balsam firs transports her to the weekend she spent with Brian in a cozy bed and breakfast last May. Her eyes well. Brian … She scans the beech, spruce, and birch tree outlines, caressing her ring—its diamond lost to the forest. We should have never … ahh … She brushes off tears. Be strong, she compels herself. She staggers to a stand and lumbers off.
A harrowing growl booms—her feet are in the air, her face smashes to the ground.
“No! Nooooo!” she screams, as she’s dragged across the underbrush.
Pebbles, leaves, and branches cut into her. Her fingernails claw a trail into the earth as she tries to grip at something—anything—that will anchor her long enough to turn over and hurl the rock she still has gripped in her hand. A trio of saplings gashes her chin and she grabs onto them, jerking to a stop.
She fears she’ll be rent in two as she’s tugged savagely. But she doesn’t let go. I’ve got to … She tries to twist—turn my … fucking arm … over …
Light shines through from approaching high beams. Distant, but just enough of a distraction. Yes!
She whips the rock.
A painful yowl!
“Fuck you!” she bellows as she scrambles to her feet and darts for the auspicious lights. She pushes her way through a thicket of juniper shrubs, waving and hollering—”Hey! Hey!”—and scarcely manages to catch herself. Shafts of light from the oncoming vehicle reveal there is nowhere to go but down. Down a ridiculously steep hill, she discovers.
The charging footsteps close in.
Shit! She glances over her shoulder—Fuck!—and drops to the ground. She gropes the ridge, clasps a sturdy root, and slides over the edge. Splinters stab into her hands. “Ahhhh!” she squeals—Shut up!—and hangs on. She cocks her head east to west. I need … something … else … to grab on … to.
The thicket rattles and cracks.
She winces. No! The rocks beneath her feet crumble. Oh my God, oh my God. Don’t you fucking let go. Her feet dangle. The roots dig deeper into her palms. “Ahhhh!” She presses her mouth into the dirt and feels the earth above vibrate. A pebble bounces off her head.
Beastly snorts and growls turn into sniffing and heavy panting.
She holds her breath. Go away, go away, go away!
The noises above her suddenly fade; all she hears is an eerie, unsettling breeze.
Oh my God! She listens hard. They’re gone. Breathe, she reminds herself again. She inhales and looks down. The slope is too extreme. She needs another path. She waits a long moment—God help me!—takes another mouthful of air, then musters the strength to pull herself up. Please don’t be there. Please don’t be there. Please—Fiery breath steams her forehead, and a snarl swells into a ferocious roar.
Dilly glimpses the blur of black, indigo, royal blue below. And lets go.
“Sir?” Elie asks—wondering, What does he want?
“Sir, I already gave it in, sir.”
O’Sullivan goes through the list in his hand. “Then why don’t I have it?”
“Sir, I handed mine in last month, the day after you gave us the form,” Elie says, politely. “You told me to leave it on your desk, sir.”
“Well I never got it.”
That’s impossible, Elie thinks, looking over at O’Sullivan’s desk and catching J.J. and Lance locked in on him, bumping fists. “Sir, maybe—”
“Sir, maybe Osama here decided to chicken out, sir,” Lance throws in.
“What you talking about, Willis?” Jonathan interjects. “Ahmed isn’t afraid of anything.” He bows in prayer. “He’s got Allah on his side.”
“Shut up!” Elie says.
Jonathan turns to Lance, “Maybe Omar’s just got something better to do, like pray or 9-11 our asses again?”
“You’re such an idiot, you know that?” Elie tells him. “I think you’ve been sacked one too many times.”
“What do you know about football, Al-Qaida?” Jonathan says. “In your country, instead of strapping on shoulder pads to play ball you strap on bombs to kill all.”
“I know that QB stands for quarterback, but in your case it means queer boy,” Elie retorts.
The class “oohs!”
Jonathan jumps out of his seat. “You shut your a-hole, A-rab.”
Elie stands, and blows Jonathan a kiss. “You like it when they pile up on you, don’t you, QB?”
Jonathan marches up to Elie. “You shut your sand trap, Habibi.”
Elie leans in, “Yeah, or what are you going to do about it?” The class turns deathly silent. He waits for Jonathan’s next move.
“Go back to your country.” Jonathan reaches for Elie’s eyebrow—
O’Sullivan takes a step forward, but stops when Elie grabs Jonathan’s wrist.
“This is my country, QB.” Elie pushes Jonathan’s wrist away. “And my name isn’t Ahmed or Omar or Al-Qaida. My name is Elie El-Hage. A proud American, born and raised in this country, and I would gladly give my life to protect it … just like my grandfather did, and my father is doing right now.”
“Oh, yeah?” Jonathan turns and struts to his desk, “On whose side, Mohammed?”
“There’s no such thing as werewolves,” Lance cuts in. “Just a bunch of shit made up to scare people,”
“How do you know that for sure?” Zack asks, and pitches a stone into the fire.
“‘Cause I do,” Lance spits back.
Zack stands. “What if I told you that one of us is a werewolf?” He gazes at all of them. “Hmm?”
They eye him, frowning, open-mouthed. Jeffrey can feel his arms prickle.
“I wouldn’t believe it,” Lance says, and pulls up his jacket collar.
“Neither would I,” Billy Bob concurs, rubbing his knuckles.
Zack takes a step toward Lance. “Let’s just pretend that one of us is,” he says, “for real,” and then continues, in a low whisper. “Would you be able to sleep tonight?”
They all eye one another, wary, and many glances stop on Jeffrey and Doris.
Yeah, I wish, Jeffrey thinks.
“What are you talking about? Who, motherfucker?” Lance scans the group. “Who?”