We've all read books like this. This is the books featuring werewolves (or werecougars, werelions, werejaguars—you get the picture). I classify these books as "inborn abilities" because in these books, these creatures are all born with the ability to shapeshift (which usually manifests for the first time at puberty).
But for a moment, I'm going to sidetrack to werewolves. In the original myth, this is a disease, one which causes the person to shift into a wolf-like monster upon the full moon. This disease is spread through the werewolf's bite at this time. The Dictionary of Mythology by J. A. Coleman (Arcturus Publishing Ltd., 2007) describes a werewolf as:
a human said to be able to change into a wolf
In those cases where men were turned into wolves by others, it was said that, if they refrained from eating human flesh for eight years, they would be restored to their human form.
Other animals take the place of wolves in those places where the wolf is not feared. Examples include the bear (North America), boar (Greece/Turkey), crocodile (Africa), fox (China/Japan), hyaena (Africa), jaguar (South America), leopard (Africa), lion (Africa) and tiger (Borneo/China/Japan).
In European belief, a werewolf removes his skin and resumes his human shape at daybreak and will die if the skin is found and destroyed.
A German story says that a person wearing a belt from the skin of a wolf or a man who has been hanged will become a werewolf.
In the lore of some North American Indians, werewolves can be either men or women. It is said that those who can become werewolves also practice witchcraft when in their normal human shape.
I'll come back to that last bit in the next post. But this, the stuff of horror films, is rarely used in romance. Nonetheless, let me give you some good references to look into:
- The Wikipedia page
- The legend
- Lore vs Science for Lycanthropy
- Different mythologies for werewolves
- The Werewolf in Lore and Legend by Montague Summers
- The Werewolf Book: The Encyclopedia of Shape-shifting Beings by Brad Steiger
- The Book of Werewolves by Sabine Baring-Gould
But, as I mentioned, rarely do paranormal romances follow this example. More likely, being a werewolf is hereditary—and the werewolf gene is dominant in half-breeds. Depending on who you read, the werewolf lore can be the "inner beast" which grants the bearer strength; the werewolf is able to shift into a wolf form either on the full moon or at will (although in almost all cases, the full moon still pulls at the beast inside them); the werewolf is able to shift into a half man, half wolf form.
Some of my favourite authors who write books with these kind of shifters are:
L. K. Below
His Familiar Touch (in Paramourtal)
A Hunger Like No Other
Wicked Deeds on a Winter's Night
Pleasure of a Dark Prince
Lauren Dane The Cascadia Wolves series
MaryJanice Davidson The Wyndham Werewolf series
Unleash the Night
Dark Side of the Moon
Bad Moon Rising
Big, Bad Wolf
Wolf At the Door
She's No Faerie Princess
Howl At the Moon
Walk on the Wild Side
Born to be Wild
Next week, I'll be talking about shifting as a part of witchcraft, but for now:
What are your favourite shifter romances?