A classic retelling of Marie de France’s medieval romance, “Bisclavret (The Werewolf)” by Mark Lord is set in France during the 14th century. The story is a first-person narrative, told by the daughter of the late lord of Trigoff. Interestingly enough, Mark uses a woman as the main character to tell the story, and he does a fairly nice job with her perspective.
Upon first meeting the daughter of the lord of Trigoff, she seems to be a gentle and passive individual, submissive to her lord’s wishes and demands. Her lord arranges for her to marry one of his esteemed knights, Edward, a man notable for his reputation as an experienced soldier of war. The daughter of lord Trigoff is not happy about the marriage arrangement, but as befitting a woman of her station in that period, she has no choice but to consent to her lord’s demands.
She fears Edward will treat her harshly but finds he is even gentler than she would have imagined. Together, they restore her father’s estate and began to build their lives together.
There are periods when Edward leaves the estate and does not return for three days at a time. Edward’s wife is anxious during these periods, especially at night with the howling of the wolves in the dark, and she finally confronts Edward about his customary absences. Edward does not wish to answer her, will not tell her his secret. She pushes him, and he finally consents.
But once told, it is not a secret she can live with, a disturbing secret she cannot fathom. And then, knowing, she must make a decision of her own. A secret she must keep from her husband until the time is right.
This story is her confession. A secret darker than the haunting sound of wolves crying in the night.
Mark’s story is engaging and thrilling. As an eighteen page short story, it reads quickly: his pacing is good, the dialogue is tight, and the plot is absorbing. His style is clean and precise and executed extremely well.
I did feel that some of the characters could have used more fleshing out, Bertrand for one, and on some levels Edward. But it is a short story, which doesn’t permit the space or time for too much expansion. At first, I thought his main character seemed a bit flat, but as the story progresses, she proves to be surprisingly cunning and deceitful and tough. A major reversal from her gentle and submissive nature at the beginning of the story.