Last Monday, we started going through Mercedes Lackey’s Beauty and the Werewolf. Bella had just learned from Granny that Duke Sebastian might be cursed.
For last week’s post on Beauty and the Werewolf, click here.
Granny tells Bella that there’s a rumor that the Gamekeeper is actually the illegitimate son of Sebastian’s father. But before Bella and Granny can explore the idea too much, Bella realizes that night has come, and she should have been home already. Bella comments that at least it’s a full moon.
Reader Comments: Ominous. This is where she’ll meet the werewolf.
Writer Comments: This is a great example of using reader knowledge to heighten tension. There’s no reason Bella should even think of werewolves at this point. Granny doesn’t show any concern for them either. Yet because of the book’s title, we readers know one exists. As a result, tension skyrockets when Bella mentions the full moon, even if she feels unconcerned.
As Bella walks home, she hears the howl of a lone wolf, the most dangerous sort. The beast chases her through the woods. Bella improvises a club to defend herself, but the creature is large and vicious. She finally wedges herself between two boulders where the wolf cannot reach, but he lunges at her anyway. At one point, he bites onto her foot and tries to drag her out. Bella screams and the wolf lets her go. She pleads for it to leave, and to her surprise, the wolf backs away and vanishes into the woods.
Reader Comments: I bet Eric the Gamekeeper intentionally went after her in werewolf form in vengeance for telling him off. Although, he doesn’t seem the sort to leave until she’s thoroughly mangled.
Writer Comments: Study this scene for how to write tension and fear. Lackey does a great job. Even though I knew Bella wouldn’t die—it didn’t fit the premise of the story—I was terribly afraid for her and caught up in the potentially vicious attack.
Wounded, Bella limps back to town. Just before she sneaks into her house, one of her mother’s doctors catches her. Realizing that she’s injured, he takes her inside, cares for her, and demands the full story. Bella gives it, and the doctor insists he must report the animal attack. Bella sleeps and is awoken much later when the king’s soldiers come to take her away. She’s swept from her father’s house and driven to an isolated manor where the soldiers rather unceremoniously dump her. In the hall, Duke Sebastian greets her, confirms her suspicion that she’s being isolated for fear of her turning into a werewolf, and apologizes, for he fears he was the werewolf that bit her.
Reader Comments: Hah! It is Sebastian. I really should have seen that coming. I guess I got all tied up in Eric’s evilness and forgot about the duke. And now the romance can begin.
Writer Comments: Lackey uses Bella’s responses to all this upheaval in her life to reveal what sort of person she is. Bella is not one to panic. She reasons and plans, but she has emotions just as much as any woman. She just has them under pretty good control.
Duke Sebastian apologizes profusely and informs Bella that, during the nights of the full moon, he’s always locked up. He doesn’t know why this time was different. He takes Bella into a splendid dining room and feeds her breakfast. Bella, rather perturbed about the circumstances that have brought her into involuntary confinement, shows herself in less than a pleasant mood. She acts as though she were a queen ordering Sebastian about as if he did not severely outrank her. Sebastian reveals that he was never bitten by a werewolf and has no history of it in the family. No one knows why he is one and, therefore, no one knows if Bella will catch the curse from his bite. He also reveals that he is a wizard and keeps spirit servants rather than risking harming human or animal servants by keeping them near him.
Reader Comments: Wow, Bella is really taking on airs. But I like Sebastian. He’s sweet, intelligent, and suggests a subtle strength. I haven’t seen a hero with spectacles since Harry Potter. And my current suspicion regarding the plot is that Eric, who Sebastian admits to being his half brother, intentionally let Sebastian out in wolf form hoping he would tear Bella to pieces.
Writer Comments: Usually, it’s best not to end a chapter on someone going to sleep. A reader is more likely to set a book down then. After the invisible servant shows Bella to her room, Bella falls asleep on the featherbed, but Lackey doesn’t end the chapter there. She goes on one more phrase to say that Bella was awoken by a hand shaking her. Thus, she ramps the tension back up while still giving Bella a break from the traumas of the morning.
I hope you enjoyed this reading of Beauty and the Werewolf. Join me next Monday for the next two chapters and Wednesdays and Fridays for other ventures into the speculative and life.