The Werewolf of Fever Swamp
First edition cover.
|Author||R. L. Stine|
|Cover artist||Tim Jacobus|
|Genre||Horror fiction, Children's literature|
|Media type||Print (paperback)|
|Pages||123 (first edition)|
|LC Class||MLC R CP01334|
|Preceded by||Piano Lessons Can Be Murder|
|Followed by||You Can't Scare Me!|
The Werewolf of Fever Swamp was featured on the USA Today and Publishers Weekly bestseller list. In the mid-1990s, the book was adapted for television, and released on both VHS and DVD. In addition, it was adapted into a comic book story in the book Creepy Creatures.
||This article's plot summary may be too long or excessively detailed. (November 2010)|
Grady Tucker and his sixteen year-old sister Emily have both moved to a new house with their scientist parents. Their father, Dr. Tucker, studied deer in Vermont until he came into possession of six Swamp Deer from South America. Because of this, Dad had to move with his scientist wife and the two kids to Florida so he could test his hypothesis: Deer can live in Florida. Though he keeps them in a pen in the backyard for now, Dr. Tucker intends to release the deer with tracking collars into the wild.
Grady and Emily go exploring in search of a bird. Emily and Grady suddenly find themselves lost in the swamp. They wander around, eventually finding a small shack. A crazed white-haired man exits the shack and chases the two children, who run around until finally they find the door to their house. Once inside, they tell their parents about the wild man. Dad coolly tells the kids that he's just a swamp hermit. Then he says that the guys at the hardware store said the swamp hermit was completely harmless.
Later that night, Grady is relaxing in the backyard when another twelve year-old boy, one of his new neighbors, introduces himself as Will. Will is a big kid and tells Grady that the only other kid their age on the block is a weird girl. Will walks over to the deer pen, picks something up and utters "Yuck. Deer Slime." Will tells a story about how Fever Swamp got named. A hundred years ago, everyone in town caught something from the swamp that started with a fever and most died and those who didn't die went crazy. Late that night Grady comes down with a fever. Woken from a fever dream, Grady hears howls coming from outside. He goes down to the kitchen to investigate and hears scratching on the exterior door. Emily wakes up too and the two siblings sit in the kitchen, listening to the howls and scratching at the door. Grady bravely opens the door but sees no one outside, and since it's midnight, doesn't go outside to investigate further. The two siblings listen to the sounds some more and then their Dad wakes up and insists on taking both of their temperatures.
The next morning, no sooner does Grady leave the house than he is attacked by a lovable but huge, 100 lb dog. The dog starts licking Grady's face and Emily comes out and pets the dog, figuring this is the source of the scratching from the previous night. After some discussion the parents decide that a dog would be fine to let into their house. Will shows up to go investigate the swamp with Grady, and suggests to the family that the dog might be part-wolf. So they name the dog Wolf. The two boys leave the dog at the house and are not in the swamp for more than a few minutes before Wolf shows up and accompanies them into the thicket of foliage. They fool around the swamp for a while and then Wolf starts growling as he spots the Swamp Hermit. Will thinks the Swamp Hermit, whose shirt is covered in blood, might be dangerous. They remain still as the Swamp Hermit quietly leaves their line of sight.
As soon as the coast is clear, the boys continue exploring and come across a bloody mauled heron. The bird has been ripped apart and there are paw prints around the body. Grady guesses a dog did it but then Will tells Grady that dogs don't rip apart birds. Will goes back home and Grady enters his house. Dr. Tucker tells Grady that the swamp is filled with scary stuff and that another bird probably killed the heron. The entire family is awoken in the middle of the night by crashing from downstairs. They all huddle together and make their way down to investigate. The noise was caused by Wolf, who has run around the living room, smashing into the furniture in a desperate attempt to get out of the house. Dad gets especially dismayed when he discovers the dog had broken the lamp. The dog starts ramming its body into the plate glass sliding door until finally Dad opens the door and Wolf leaps out of the house into the swamp. The family goes back to their rooms, but before long, Grady hears howling coming from the swamp again. In the light of the full moon, Grady can make out a four-legged creature in the shadows below his window. The creature leaves something resembling a rag at the foot of the deer pen and leaves. Grady goes down to get a closer look and sees a chewed up rabbit.
The next morning, after breakfast, Grady takes his father to see the dead rabbit. Wolf shows up and gently licks the his face. Emily is convinced that Wolf killed the rabbit and begs their father to get rid of the dog. Grady tells her she has no proof that the dog killed it, but she says there's no proof he didn't either. Will shows up and tells Grady that a neighbor, Mr. Warner, has gone missing. Apparently Mr. Warner left early the day before to go turkey hunting in the swamp and never returned. A voice from behind them suggests that a werewolf did it. That voice belongs to a redhead named Cassie, the weird girl Will mentioned. Will tells her to shut up, that what she's saying is stupid. Cassie presses the issue and tries to convince Grady that the howls can only be made by a werewolf that has made a fresh kill.
Cassie freaks out when she sees the Swamp Hermit in the distance, yells and points at him. The Swamp Hermit has a wild turkey slung over his shoulder, leading the kids to wonder if he swiped it from the missing Mr. Warner. The Swamp Hermit is close enough to hear these accusations and runs out of the swamp towards the kids, yelling "I'm the werewolf! I'm the werewolf!" over and over, cackling all the way. The other kids flee as the hermit grabs Grady's ankle, keeping him in place. The old man just cackles and waves at him with his free hand and tells Grady he was only playing. Wolf trots up and barely acknowledges the hermit, who lets Grady loose from his grip. The Swamp Hermit tells Grady to be careful about his dog and heads back to his shack. Then Grady gets bitten by a snake.
Wolf leads Grady back to safety and he tells Will and Cassie, who've regrouped on his lawn, to get his parents. Cassie tells Grady's mom that he was bitten by a werewolf. Grady's mom puts an ice pack on Grady's ankle and jokingly tells him that his father is a werewolf and that she shaves his back every day so he'll look normal. Grady persists that a werewolf could be responsible for the events in the swamp, like the howls. The mother replies that a lot of things howl in the swamp, even Grady when he got bitten. Dr. Tucker tells Grady that since the moon will only be full for two more nights, they'll know after that whether or not the howls came from a werewolf. Then he too starts laughing, as he said it to mock his son. The mom picks up a newspaper and shows her black newsprint hands to Grady and tells him it's hair that's grown on her palms. Emily then suggests that the dog is the werewolf.
Cassie and Will come over that night to eat and after dinner Grady sits with the two as they trade barbs about just who is the werewolf. This quickly turns into the two just calling each other names while Grady watches. Then each accuses the other of being the werewolf. Lying in bed, trying to sleep, Grady hears the howls from outside again. Then he hears a commotion below his window again. This time when he goes to investigate, he finds that something has broken into the deer pen and killed one of the six "swamp deer", the other five deer huddled together in their pen, away from the gaping hole in the metal. Grady calls his dad down from the lawn to see the corpse. Dr. Tucker patches the pen with a piece of cardboard.
After dragging the dead deer to his workshop, Dr. Tucker tells his son that clearly his dog is a killer. Grady's father tells him that tomorrow morning, he's taking the dog to the pound to be killed. The next morning, Grady's dad tries to take Wolf to the pound but Grady tells his dog to run away and it does. Grady's dad tells him that was dumb, because the dog is bound to come back, and when it does, he's going to take it to be killed.
Wolf manages to stay out of sight all day and it isn't until late that night that Grady spots him from his bedroom window, lingering at the swamp clearing. Grady goes down to greet his dog and runs into Will. Will claims to have heard the howls and was trying to investigate when he ran into Grady. The two boys spot Wolf, who has edged back into the swamp. Grady runs after him, losing Will in the process. Following his dog, Grady ends up at the Swamp Hermit's hut. He hears the horrible howling coming from near the shack and he believes the hermit was the werewolf. He soon discovers that Will is the werewolf, not the hermit, after seeing Will slowly transform into a wolf under the full moon. Will attacks Grady, but luckily, Wolf comes and fights off Will, driving him away and saving Grady's life. But, Grady eventually passes out.
When he comes to, he finds himself safely inside his own home. Grady's dad tells him that the Swamp Hermit found him and carried him home, and that he also saw Wolf fight off a large creature to save Grady's life. Grady's dad submits that they can keep the dog. After listening to Grady's werewolf story, Dr. Tucker figures he might as well try to see if his son could be telling the truth, so he goes to visit Will's house. He finds the house is empty, abandoned, as though no one had lived there for months. Grady is so happy that he got to keep Wolf around because the dog makes for an excellent companion on nights when the full moon is out as Grady becomes a werewolf so he roams around the Fever Swamp area with Wolf. It also suggests that the cap of forest service that Will wears is the cap of the officers that may have come to the swamp and were killed by Will.
This book was described as a story of victimization.
The Werewolf of Fever Swamp was featured on USA Today's Top 150 Best-Selling Books database for 73 weeks, attaining a peak position of 24. In 2000, it had sold over 1.57 million copies and was listed as the 209th bestselling children's paperback book of all time by Publishers Weekly.
Kidzworld commented that they loved the book and gave it a 5 out of 5 rating. Brian J. Frost stated the book was one of the best werewolf novels in the series, stating it "heightens the suspense by concealing the identity of the werewolf until the very end."
In the 1990s, The Werewolf of Fever Swamp was adapted into a television special, which first aired on May 17, 1996 on the Fox Network. It starred Brendan Fletcher as Grady Tucker, Don Francks as the swamp hermit, Michael Barry as Will, and was directed by William Fruet. The special was produced by Protocol Entertainment in association with Scholastic Productions. Kimberly M. Hutmacher from Kaboose described it as "a suspenseful well-crafted mystery."
The Werewolf of Fever Swamp was released on VHS on March 25, 1997. The video was popular; it was listed 3rd in Billboard 's list of top kid's videos about four months after its initial release and 19th in Billboard's list of top kid's videos for 1997. The Werewolf of Fever Swamp was released on DVD in 2004.
Comic book story
The book was adapted into a comic book story of the same name in the book Creepy Creatures, the first book in the Goosebumps Graphix series. The book was first published on September 1, 2006, and the story was adapted by Gabriel Hernandez. Kat Kan stated that Hernandez "uses sketchy but expressive art to convey the spooky atmosphere" in the story, and the ""gotcha" ending of the tale is particularly well done."
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- "All-Time Bestselling Children's Books". Publishers Weekly. 2001-12-17. Retrieved 2011-02-17.
- "Scary Stories III: Goosebumps :: The Werewolf Of Fever Swamp Book Review". Kidzworld. 2009-09-21. Retrieved 2011-03-12.
- Frost, Brian J. (2003). The Essential Guide to Werewolf Literature. University of Wisconsin Press. p. 234. ISBN 0-87972-860-4. Retrieved 2011-03-12.
- Martin, John (1996-05-17). "Kids can get goosebumps from 'Swamp'". The Tuscaloosa News. Retrieved 2011-02-01.
- The Werewolf of Fever Swamp (VHS). 1997-03-25. ISBN 0-7939-4394-9. Retrieved 2011-03-13.
- "Werewolf of Fever Swamp". The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-03-13.
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- "TOP VIDEOS". Dayton Daily News. 1997-07-24. Retrieved 2011-02-02.
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