Anyone who has taken high school English knows who Alexandre Dumas is, but in case you need a refresher, he is the brilliant author who wrote both The Count of Monte Cristo and The Three Musketeers. Those are the two my school teachers taught me about, but it wasn’t all he wrote. Did you know that Dumas also wrote a fantasy novel about a werewolf? He did indeed and in 1857 he published Le Meneur de Loups, which was later translated into The Wolf Leader.
The Wolf Leader is set around 1780 in Dumas’ native town of Villers-Cotterêts and is said to have been based on a local folktale Dumas was told as a boy. The story tells the tale of a young shoemaker named Thibault who is severely beaten by the gamekeeper of the Lord of Vez for interfering with the lord’s hunting. Thibault is then approached by a large wolf walking on its hind legs like a man, a wolf capable of human speech. The wolf offers Thibault vengeance – Thibault can wish anyone harm and it will be done. In exchange, the wolf requires a single hair from Thibault’s head for every evil wish. To seal the deal, the two exchange rings. As a result of this bargain he made, he is also able to control the local wolves, and thanks to that, the locals eventually come to believe that he is a big bad werewolf.
With his power to wish any evil thing he wants, Thibault promptly wishes the gamekeeper dead, and the Lord of Vez injured. Throughout the story Thibault makes many more wicked wishes, but nothing goes according to plan and in the end it all comes back to bite him in the ass. I won’t ruin the rest of the story for you, but I assure you, it’s not what you’re expecting.
Some critics have claimed that The Wolf Leader is one of Alexandre Dumas’ worst stories, however, many disagree and say that it’s in fact one of his most imaginative stories, one that tells a magnificent tale of good versus evil. But I’ll let you guys decide for yourselves.
I should add that this isn’t the typical werewolf tale, it’s not like the werewolf stories you read or watch nowadays. But, if you’re a fan of classic literature then you may enjoy The Wolf Leader.