Fuck, Kill, Eat: Werewolves and the Death of Love

I’ve been thinking about werewolves a lot lately.

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No, really, like a lot.

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I recently listened to the audiobook of Glen Duncan’s The Last Werewolf, which is probably one of my favorite books of all time. I own a print copy and have read it twice, but decided to listen to it in my car on my way to work over the course of two weeks. I have a 40-minute drive to and from work Monday – Friday, and when I don’t feel like listening to music I listen to audiobooks that I download for free through an online service provided by my local library.

Over the past several months I listened to two Joe Hill novels, Heart-Shaped Box and NOS4A2, and the first two novels in the Vampire Diaries series by L. J. Smith. I had to stop listening to the Vampire Diaries novels, because I was getting pissed off at the fact that there are no people of color in the stories, and Elena Gilbert is a spoiled rich white girl who doesn’t deserve the love and attention of either Salvatore brother. I prefer the TV series to the novels mainly because of the diversity of characters and well…Damon Salvatore is a beautiful monster.

I would happily listen to more Joe Hill novels in my car, but I’ve either read or listened to all of them and last summer I even listened to Doctor Sleep and got my Charlie Manx fix through the world(s) shared between Joe Hill and Stephen King. I got very excited while listening to NOS4A2 when Charlie Manx talks about the different “inscapes” and the people he’s met that use them — Pennywise’s Circus (IT), the True Knot (Doctor Sleep), Christmasland (NOS4A2), the Treehouse of the Mind (Horns), the Night Road and Craddock McDermott (Heart-Shaped Box). Seriously, NOS4A2 is an Easter egg treasure-trove for readers of King and Hill. Treat yourself!

Reality has been kicking my ass, so my goal when choosing entertainment of any kind is to get as far from reality as possible. I often jokingly tell people that if a TV show, movie, or book doesn’t have vampires, werewolves, demons, witches, ghosts, or other paranormal characters, I’m not interested. But, it’s not really a joke.

I have been feeding my brain a steady diet of paranormal romance and dark speculative fiction. I binge-watched seasons 12 and 13 of Supernatural recently and now I’m suffering from Winchester withdrawal. Fox decided to cancel Lucifer, so I watched the last two bonus episodes and now that’s over and done. I started rewatching season 2 of Preacher to psyche myself up for season 3, but I’m not 100% sure of the date of its return to AMC. Then, on a whim, I decided to finally watch Lost Girl on Netflix. It has a Buffy vibe that I really enjoy and it is loaded with sexy, interesting, and often hilarious supernatural creatures. I like the dynamics between the Dark and Light Fae, I like the slow unfolding of the long cultural and political histories of this dual society, and I like the relationships that form between the characters. But, I’m not going to lie, the main reason why I’m watching right now is because of a certain werewolf.

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In the first season of Lost Girl, Dyson and the main character, Bo Dennis, become lovers. Because he is a werewolf chock full of Id and raging sexual energy, he is the first lover she’s ever had that didn’t die after having sex with her. Which, you know, is kind of a big deal when you’re a succubus.

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I mean, imagine if you had spent most of your adult life making love to people you’re attracted to or have strong feelings for, and each time you follow through on your sexual attraction, they end up dead. Sex with you is literally deadly. You are the embodiment of the death of love. Then, one day, you not only discover what you are and why your partners are dying, but you also find a mate who can provide you with what you need — companionship, acceptance, answers to your questions, finger-licking mega-boost sexual energy, and death-free sex. Death-free sex that is totally mind-blowing for both of you. You’d be tempted to think that love might still be in the cards for you.

I mean, love is still in the cards unless the person you love loves you so much that they inadvertently sacrifice their passion for you in an effort to save your life. Hence, the death of love. I mean, what’s more tragic than loving someone so much that you sacrifice everything for them with the consequence of never being able to love them again?

I’ve been on a werewolf kick for a while. Like I said, before I started watching Lost Girl on Netflix roughly a week ago, I listened to Glen Duncan’s The Last Werewolf, read by the late Robin Sachs, who lent his uber-sexy deep British accent to the first-person narrator, Jake Marlowe. Jake is a 200-year-old British werewolf who is facing the certainty of extinction of his species.

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For most of the novel, he accepts the fact that death is coming for him. In fact, he welcomes it. After 200 years, 147 of which he’s spent as a monster killing and eating humans, he’s done. He believes he’s seen it all and there are no new mysteries awaiting him. And then, the Universe has a few more laughs at his expense.

I suppose that most werewolf stories are really about love and it’s loss when you examine them closely enough. Lycanthropy is typically viewed as a curse that ruins the lives of the people who contract it. In most cases, lycanthropy is passed from werewolf to human through a bite. Unless lycanthropy is inherited through a family bloodline, or achieved through magical means, like wearing a belt made from a wolf’s pelt with a little black magic for good measure, werewolves are usually the survivors of violent attacks. And, once their physical wounds heal, the psychological ones are usually just beginning. If the werewolf has a conscience, they will most likely experience the early stages of a mental collapse after the first full moon when they turn into a homicidal maniac in wolf form.

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Jake Marlowe became a werewolf because he was bitten by one and during his first transformation he killed his wife. After killing and eating her, he read her journal and discovered that she was pregnant. His first act as a werewolf was to literally kill and eat love. For 147 years, he spent his life observing the sacred rites of werewolves: Fuck, Kill, Eat. He never found love again. At least, not until he realizes he’s about to be extinct. The Universe likes to laugh at us, but it seems to be especially jovial where monsters are concerned. At least romantic monsters who cling to their humanity in the midst of an extreme identity crisis. Jake assumes he’s the last living werewolf on Earth until he meets his female counterpart, Tallula Demetriou. So, not only is Jake no longer the last werewolf on Earth, but now he has a reason to live: Love.

So, what’s the deal with werewolves and romance? Well, who doesn’t want a passionate lover driven by their Id with superhuman strength, stamina, and a biological need to mate for life? A werewolf mate will literally kill people to keep you safe…or as an insane response to their unbridled jealousy.

At the heart of all werewolves is murderous rage and rapacious sexual energy. Left unchecked, they commit atrocities like Jake Marlowe killing his wife and unborn child, and while in human form they are often slaves to their libido. Without love, werewolves are basically fucking, killing, and eating machines.

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Typically, werewolves are portrayed as strong, handsome men suffering from some sort of identity crisis, or extreme guilt over becoming a murder once a month, and possibly an unbearable, soul-crushing melancholy brought on by unrequited love.

What I like most about Glen Duncan’s Last Werewolf Trilogy is the fact that we see the lives of werewolves from two perspectives, both male and female. Jake Marlowe’s acceptance of his true werewolf self — the good, the bad, the ugly, and the murderous — makes him an oddly likeable character. He has sex with prostitutes and somehow manages to not be a misogynist. He kills and eats humans once a month and somehow manages to be endearing in his descriptions of his own psychology. He’s a conundrum of horror, repulsion, intellect, cynicism, and raw sex appeal. Werewolves are mythological bad boys and they make excellent romantic characters when making terrible choices is your raison d’etre. I probably mentioned this before, but falling in love with monsters is usually a bad idea, regardless of what popular paranormal romance tells us. Whether you join Team Jacob or Team Edward, you’re essentially signing up for assisted suicide.

But, what if the werewolf is female?

If the 2000 cult horror film Ginger Snaps teaches us nothing else, it teaches us that female werewolves are dangerous monsters (and super-fucking cool). Their danger lies not only in the physical power that comes with their transformations each month, but in the empowerment that comes from shedding all the bullshit societal expectations of femininity. Female werewolves embrace their sexuality and engage in the mental gymnastics required to deal with the implied duality of being vessels for the creation of life and choosing to murder to satisfy the bone-rattling hunger for human flesh.

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But hey, don’t most women deal with similar dualities in every day life? Women are expected to be attractive to appease the ever-present male gaze, but only if they maintain the illusion of virginity. Women who ignore the male gaze and express their unique brand of sexuality or lack of interest in sex all together are accused of being sluts or hags. Let’s face it, there’s nothing more monstrous than sex-positive women who take full ownership of their bodies and decide who can and can’t have access to them.

Female werewolves choose their own paths. They embrace their sexuality. They choose multiple partners or mate for life. They become mothers or remain childless. They give the middle finger to societal expectations and rip out the patriarchy’s jugular.

As it turns out, Jake Marlowe is not the last werewolf. Tallula, his lover, his mate, his salvation, the love of his life (no pressure), makes the inevitability of extinction less likely. In fact, he gains strength in knowing that she is a better werewolf than he could ever hope to be. Tallula struggles with internal chorus of right and wrong that developed from her American upbringing and the expectations that women can only occupy certain roles — maiden, mother, and crone. And possibly, harlot. Tallula likes sex and engages in murder with the same ardor. She and Jake kill together and then have sex over the corpse in werewolf form, which ironically brings them closer together as a couple in their human guises. Essentially, their a serial-killing couple. Murder mates. Even monsters need love, right?

So, if female werewolves are more powerful and scarier than male werewolves, that might help explain how male werewolves have become sexually-charged eye candy in a lot of paranormal romantic fiction. I’m just stating that as a fact. It’s not a criticism in the least, because that would make me a hypocrite. There’s nothing I enjoy more than objectifying sexy werewolves…and examining the potentially dangerous ramifications of sexualizing monsters.

Peter Rumancek of Hemlock Grove, the Netflix original series based on Brian McGreevy’s 2012 novel by the same name, is an interesting monster. While he is physically appealing, his real attraction comes from his delightful irreverence and cynicism, and while his Romany upbringing predisposes him to criminal activity, his internal struggles are more geared toward keeping the people he loves safe rather than his guilt over killing and eating people.

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Then we have Alcide Herveaux, who could possibly be the sexiest werewolf ever in paranormal fiction. Charlaine Harris has kindly given us countless fuckable fictional characters, but Alcide is in a class all by himself.

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In Alan Ball’s adaptation of Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse novels for the HBO series True Blood, Alcide gets a much broader story arc than he does in the novels and his flirtations with Sookie Stackhouse got much further. He’s an interesting character who embodies strength and loyalty to a fault. And jealousy. Let’s not forget jealousy, which is essentially Alcide’s kryptonite.

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I have a soft spot in my heart for Alcide because he makes worse relationship decisions than I do. I mean, this guy has TERRIBLE luck with romance and his choice of partners, including Sookie Stackhouse, are pretty much all bad ideas. Plus, there’s the added bonus of him being naked a lot of the time.

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So, in the process of writing this blog post I realized that I have a lot more to say about werewolves and this post might be the jumping off point for a short series of posts. I definitely feel like I have more to say about female werewolves vs. male werewolves, and I’d like to talk more about Glen Duncan’s trilogy. But, I need to think about the subject a little more deeply.

Which reminds me, while I was listening to the second audiobook in the trilogy, Tallula Rising, I was able to solve or at least recognize the solution to an issue in my own writing. Tallula talks about her feelings in relation to motherhood and the acceptance of the terrible things she does and that are done to her. It was a moment of clarity that confirms the idea that in order to become a better writer, you need to read more books. I’m not going to talk about that moment of clarity in this post. I’ll save it for a future post. But, I will say that the irony of finding clarity about my own identity, my own writing, and the world I live in through stories about monsters is not lost on me. My own otherness has made me feel connected to monsters since childhood and I have always felt empathy toward characters who have no control of who or what they are. I suppose, I feel a kinship to monsters and the older I get, the more I take pride in that fact.

I’m going to keep up the ongoing process of self-discovery through writing in the hopes of becoming not only a better writer, but hopefully, my best self. And, I’m going to keep thinking about werewolves.

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I mean seriously, can you blame me?

Fuckable Fictional Characters: Elijah Mikaelson

Remember how just a few short weeks ago when I started this blog series I couldn’t say enough nice things about Damon Salvatore? At the time I was a bit obsessed with him and was watching The Vampire Diaries (TVD) like a fiend. But there’s a new vampire occupying all of my daydreams right now, and he too started as a character on TVD. Now, I’ll admit that I always enjoyed his appearances in the series and looked forward to him coming back since he’s a scary vampire, an interesting character, and exceptionally easy on the eyes. Over the past two weeks I’ve been watching the first season of The Originals, which is the spinoff show that deals with the family of original vampires that first appeared on TVD.

If you know me, you know I love vampires. I love all kinds of vampires—scary ones, sexy ones, sociopathic ones, silly ones, sympathetic ones, but I try to avoid sparkly ones. In fact, of the 21 posts I wrote this month three have been about vampires. Like I said, I started this series with Damon, then I wrote about John Mitchell and Spike. I compare Francis Dolarhyde to a vampire, and even included a picture of Tom Hiddleston portraying a vampire in my post about Loki. In all likelihood I will be writing about vampires in future posts when this series becomes a monthly feature on my blog. The point is I like vampires. The fourth vampire in this series is without a doubt totally fuckable.

February 29: Elijah Mikaelson

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Elijah Mikaelson is the eldest brother in the original vampire family. He made his first appearance on TVD as an antagonist who plays a part in the Katherine Pierce and Elena Gilbert doppelgänger story arc but over time he becomes an ally and a recurring protagonist. Elijah’s first appearance on screen is the first in a series of his elegant ass-kicking scenes. The fact that he remains completely calm and shows no emotion while explaining how he’s going to kill everyone in the room before they can even think to run, makes him one of the scariest vampires on TV.

As one of the first vampires, he is unable to be killed. He, his siblings and his father can only be killed using a stake made from a white ash tree that was also enchanted when the matriarch of the Mikaelson clan, a powerful witch, cast the spell to make her children and husband vampires. When someone becomes a vampire, the strongest part of his or her personality becomes amplified, and interestingly enough, Elijah’s strongest quality is morality. Of all of the legendary original vampires, he is known as the noble one.

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He’s also wonderfully sarcastic and a bit of a smart ass. He enjoys tormenting others by pointing out their folly and the fact that if he decides to kill them they don’t have a chance in Hell to defend themselves.

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He is very restrained, almost repressed in some ways, and prefers logic to overly emotional responses to bad situations, unless one of his siblings or another person he cares deeply for is in danger. Then, he simply ratchets up the violence without even raising his blood pressure. He is exceptionally fast and powerful, spooky intelligent, and has a knack for rescuing damsels in distress. Sentimentality could be considered one of his weaknesses, and despite the fact that you can rarely guess what’s going on in his mind, he is a passionate and caring individual, but don’t take his kindness for granted.

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He cares about his appearance a great deal and wears stylish suits, designer men’s wear, and seems to almost never have a hair out of place. In fact, the only time he really gets dirty is when he’s saving someone from explosions and/or fires, is the victim of torture when someone manages to get the drop on him, and when he’s covered in blood – usually someone else’s.

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I’m no expert, but I’m pretty sure you call that a trophy.

He has blood on his hands a lot, because his favored method of killing is to reach inside someone’s chest to rip their heart out. It’s kind of his thing.

War ja wieder klar! Wer hat das Herz wieder in der Hand?

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I mean, every other vampire gets pissed and the fangs come out. Not Elijah. He doesn’t run around willy nilly biting people. He’ll just snatch the heart out of your chest before you realize it’s even happening.

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Shit is about to get real.

Elijah is a vampire who, no matter how violent he gets, manages to inspire empathy in the viewers. In the more than 1000 years that he’s been alive, he has spent most of that time looking after his siblings and trying to save his brother Klaus from himself. And, that’s a full-time job. He neglects his own happiness, denies his own desires, and conspires with and often against his siblings to make sure they don’t end up making the biggest mistakes of their lives, which they do on a nearly weekly basis.

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Mocking Klaus for nearly 1000 years.

Although he is not as quick to fall in love as his sister Rebekah, he develops deep affection and admiration for a number of women in both series. Because he has a long history with Katherine Pierce, who he calls by her given name, Katerina, he is a constant in her life throughout their histories. Klaus had been seeking revenge against Katherine since the Renaissance, and I can’t help wonder if Elijah was one of the reasons Katherine was able to stay ahead of Klaus for so long.

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I’m pretty sure he should wear leather pants more often.

When Elijah meets Elena, much like Stefan and Damon, he is a little awestruck by the fact that she looks exactly like Katherine. He conspires with Elena and the Salvatore brothers to keep Elena safe from Klaus, and in the process he becomes a bit infatuated with her.

Elena isn’t blind, and she definitely has a thing for vampires. She chooses to trust Elijah time and again, and even calls on him for help behind Stefan’s and Damon’s back. Would she be so willing to trust this cordial, yet ruthless killer if he wasn’t so attractive?

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No but, seriously.

I have to admit that I was really hoping to see an Elijah and Elena scene where he kissed her. And then I got my wish. While pretending to be Katherine, Elena discovers that he has been having a secret affair with her doppelgänger, because he greets her like a lover and kisses her. I’m sure she told herself she was just staying in character as the kiss lingered, but I’m not buying it. She kissed him without thinking twice about it. And she liked it. Elijah didn’t seem to mind very much when he realized he was kissing Elena. Win-win.

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He totally knows she isn’t Katherine and doesn’t care.

I got really excited when his appearances on TVD became more frequent, and when the spinoff was announced I was glad to know that Elijah wasn’t going anywhere. As his character continued to develop, he became more interesting. His sexiest quality is his confidence. Unlike his brother Klaus, he doesn’t feel the need to boast and brag about his accomplishments and power. He is the calm at the eye of the storm, but he’s also a highly skilled killing machine. He rarely feeds, and only takes human blood out of necessity to speed up healing when he’s been injured. If he does drink blood more often than that, then he does it in private, because he’s usually the one offering his blood to help others.

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I mentioned the fact that in many ways he represses his own urges and desires. He has been in love, but it’s a rare occurrence. When he does find love, he falls hard and almost imprints on that person. Because many of his love affairs have ended in tragedy due to his constant involvement in Klaus’s life, he tries to avoid relationships.

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Um, that’s your cue to tell him how you feel about him.

As you can imagine, there is a lot of sexual tension between him and the women he admires and desires. He holds back almost constantly, which I’m sure would drive some women completely insane. I can’t tell you how many scenes he has with female characters where you think at any moment he’s going to kiss them, almost does, then runs away using his vampire super speed. If I had to guess, I would say that in some sense he prefers the chase, and the continual denial of sexual release is actually a fetish. And there’s one scene in the first season of The Originals that we learn he has a taste for spanking his partners. I think I nearly fainted when he playfully suggested it to his lover, a black witch, in a flashback to the 1700’s. Another layer of the onion was revealed.

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As much as I love his romantic scenes, his violence is like a beautiful dance of death.

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I mean there is so much to like about this handsome monster.

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Elijah’s wardrobe is Dr. Lecter approved.

His elegant hand gestures.

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He uses those hands for spankings, too.

His love of old books.

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May I sit on your lap while you read me a story?

The joy he finds in fatherhood.

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I’d love to call him daddy.

And the pain he feels when he loses someone he loves.

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If you aren’t watching The Originals or have never seen The Vampire Diaries, I recommend checking them out. The shows are supernatural soap operas on crack with all the eye candy your filthy little mind cares to feast upon.

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Hot vampires in bondage is a recurring theme on these shows. Why aren’t you watching right now?