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Darker Than You Think (Darker Than You Think)

3.53  ·  Rating Details  ·  784 Ratings  ·  104 Reviews
For thousands of years the shape changers have lived secretly among humans, poising themselves for attack. At the center of the cataclysm is Will Barbee, who desperately wages a one-man war against the witchfolk, only to realize that even within himself, the aliens have taken a foothold.
Mass Market Paperback, 264 pages
Published December 1st 1989 by Macmillian Publishing Company (first published 1940)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,919)
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mark monday
Sep 03, 2015 mark monday rated it liked it
Shelves: secret-histories
they don't always howl at the moon but they do only come out at night, in all sorts of shapes, there and not-there, ready to kill and have been ready since the beginning of mankind. The Enemy! to humans and canines alike! masters of atomic probability: turning metal into mist and walking through walls; picking just the right place for an unfortunate accident, be it bloody car crash or a great fall from a high place. only silver holds them back!
Fantastic Plot

expert pacing: the plot moves like it
Michael Fierce
Aug 05, 2014 Michael Fierce rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of werewolves and witches


Seeing this, I knew right away that April Bell was a huge Rock 'n' Roll fan, making it quite obvious that she's been ceremoniously singing along to some of her favorite songs!

Ride the tiger
You can see his stripes
but you know he's clean
Oh don't you see what I mean

~ Dio "Holy Diver"

Umm, yyyah so anywayz. I held out on purchasing Darker Than You Think for years until I could find the one with the cover pictured above; A naked red-haired witch riding a huge golden sabre-toothed tiger against a ba
5.0 to 5.5 stars. I just finished re-reading this FANTASY CLASSIC after originally reading it over 10 years ago. As good as I thought it was back then, I must have read it too quickly and not absorbed all of the nuances because this time around I ABSOLUTELY LOVED IT!! Originally published in 1948, this novel is one of the definitive stories about werewolves. I certainly think it is the most interesting explanation for Homo lycanthropus that I have ever come across.


David Brian
Aug 31, 2015 David Brian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I reserve the right to give this one three and a half stars.
Ooh boy! This is a toughie.
Early on at least, I enjoyed the 'pulpy' style of the writing in Darker Than You Think. The opening airport scene was terrific, and it succeeded in reeling me into the story. I also thoroughly enjoyed the pseudo scientific theories used to explain much of the plot. Hey, a secret and ancient cabal filled with malice and ill intent, it works for me!
Also, as someone who is well read on astral/etheric projection,
A gripping story from start to finish that provides a different take on the idea of lycanthropy drawing together strands from quantum mechanics, freudian psycology and evolutionary theory.
Riju Ganguly
Aug 11, 2012 Riju Ganguly rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Despite being identified as “one of the best werewolf novels”, I found this book to be a crashing disappointment. Why? The reasons are as under: -

1. The protagonist is the worst one that I have EVER encountered in a book, in terms of believability. My arguments are:
a. In a style bitterly reminiscent of Hamlet and his procrastinations but without any of the literary paraphernalia that had made those lines so special, he spends the whole length of the novel without doing anything in his persona.
Randolph Carter
I finally finished this sucker. Far from being a page turner, I found it tedious. For me the novel has four big problems: the writing is bad, okay it's pulpy, it hasn't dated well, the main character who tells the story from a first person perspective is a fool that we NEVER sympathize with, and lycanthropy is my least favorite horror trope, so it already had a poor chance to do more than show with me.

As far as being dated one might say "it is of its time." but so is The Colour Out of Space but
Tim Pendry

Originally written at the very end of the 1930s and published in 1948, this is a remarkable dream-like (or rather nightmarish) paranoid fantasy about were-people taking over the world - it is also very sexy in that subdued way of the mid-twentieth century.

I can imagine this being filmed in 'noir', a greyscale of airports, small town life, redheads in apartments, cocktail bars and insane asylums, with the 'dream' or 'madness' or 'enhanced existence' sequences (it is not clear what they are and I
Jan 10, 2008 Vivienne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: lovers of urban fantasy
Shelves: horror, urban-fantasy
I was surprised when I checked this out from the library that it was written in 1948. It is a dark tale and must be one of the earliest examples of urban fantasy.

It is a tale of lycanthropy rather than werewolves alone. It is pulp fiction that has quite stereotypical characters such as April Bell the femme fatale. It is great fun and a quick read with some interesting twists.

While it is of its time period it has aged well.
I had bought a paperback of this when I was a wee lad (the edition pictured above) - tried to read it, gave up, and later lost it. Looking at it as an adult, I can see why it was tough for me to engage with it, as I even had some problems reading it as an adult now. I like lots of different styles of writing , including some experimental stuff that drives most people batty, so saying I had a tough time may be taken as code by some that this book is poorly written. It isn't.

It's inelegant and clu
MB Taylor
Oct 09, 2011 MB Taylor rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I finished reading Darker Than You Think one night last week on the bus home from work. Gollancz reprinted it in 2003 as number 38 in their “Fantasy Masterworks” series. I don’t know if it’s a masterwork or not, but it’s definitely one of the best books I’ve read recently.

I haven’t read much werewolf fiction, but I’m fairly certain this isn’t representative of that sub-genre of horror/dark fantasy. It also doesn’t really fit into the urban fantasy genre. While it’s true that in the world of the
Aug 18, 2011 Sandy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Jack Williamson's "Darker Than You Think" is a one-shot horror-novel excursion for this science fiction Grand Master, but has nonetheless been described as not only the author's finest work, but also one of the best treatments of the werewolf in modern literature. It has been chosen for inclusion in David Pringle's overview volume "Modern Fantasy: The Hundred Best Novels" ("a relatively disciplined and thoughtful work," Pringle writes, in comparing it to the author's earlier space operas) as wel ...more
This book is to the werewolf story what "I Am Legend" is to the vampire story. That is high praise and I enjoyed this book immensely.

The intermingled themes of folklore, anthropology, Indiana-Jonesesque archeology, quantum physics, pulp-noir detective, witchcraft, psychological and supernatural murder are handled expertly. As has been said by another reviewer, it is more a story of shapeshifters than a classic werewolf tale.

Settle down with this book and a hot drink, but first check the doors an
Sep 02, 2015 Karen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Early on the writing was a bit clunky, and with an abundance of oft repeated phrases. Thankfully it smoothed out a little as the story progressed.
This was an interesting tale about a secret race of shape-shifters - allegedly out for world domination, although there was little sign of that. I did enjoy the rather novel approach Williamson took with regards the creatures shape changing abilities, but felt the story was let down by the unlikely actions of a somewhat deplorable protagonist. Neverthe
Apr 17, 2016 Andy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
I mostly picked this up having read a few of the other titles in this grouped collection of horror novels and while they've not all been amazing, they have been interesting. This fits the bill.

Certainly not a traditional werewolf novel, this exerts more effort in setting up a quasi-quantum rationale for everything while skirting the border of eroticism, witchcraft and bizarro bonkers land. It works in some ways, it's atmospheric and visual but the writing is florid and frequently clumsy and our
I'm no werewolf expert, so far be it from me to judge the wolves in this 1948 horror classic. My frame of reference is the adorable, furry Seth Green, so I didn't really expect them to be scary, but I also didn't expect them to be so human. When they shift, they act exactly as they would in their human form, which makes for hilarious scenes such as this:

"She trotted past the fallen chair, sprang lightly to the desk and grasped the dead man's pencil in her pliant paws".

Werewolf lady then procee
Donnell Bell
Jan 08, 2012 Donnell Bell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Darker Than You Think is the story of WILL BARBEE, a heavy drinking newspaper reporter assigned to cover the story of an archaeological teams' mysterious dig in the Gobi Desert. When Dr. Mondrick Lamarck and his team of scientists deplane, Will and a rival reporter APRIL BELL are there among other members of the press to meet the archaeologists at the airport. The team carries with them a mysterious trunk, but instead of being excited about what's in it, they're afraid -- intensely so. When Dr. ...more
Stephanie Griffin
Dec 12, 2010 Stephanie Griffin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved this story! DARKER THAN YOU THINK, by Jack Williamson, is a classic old-school shapeshifter novel originally published in the 1940s.
Will Barbee is an alcoholic newspaper writer, who goes to greet his ex-colleagues at the airport after they have been digging for artifacts in Mongolia for two years. Something isn’t right and the lead researcher dies on the tarmac before he can make a big announcement.
Barbee wants to find out why the researcher was murdered and before long more people are
Julie Davis
An interesting story where "were" creatures are not confined to wolves. Though they are definitely dark and in conflict with humans. We see a weak man torn between the beautiful new woman of his acquaintance and the life-long friendships of those on the side of good.

At stake? Oh - only the fate of all humanity!

It was a bit of seasonal reading for me since Halloween is in a week and enjoyable enough.
Christiana Demetriou
One of the first fiction books i read. Found it in a cafe selling used books in Toronto called bookworm fell in love with the cover and later on with the story. Great dark atmosphere, well written and seductive.
May 24, 2016 Jaro rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, werewolves
One of my favorite werewolf stories.
Charles Dee Mitchell
Newspapermen and one gorgeous, redheaded, green-eyed newspaperwoman wait on the chilly tarmac of the Clarendon airport for the chartered plan returning the Lamarck Mondrick expedition from their two year stint in Nala-Shan. (Nala-shan actually exists. It's a mountain range in Northern China between Ninxgia and inner Mongolia's Alxa League. This could be the only trace of verifiable fact Williamson brings to his novel.) Along with the press are family members of the four returning explorers, incl ...more
Mike (the Paladin)
Again I'm not as thrilled with a book as some of my friends. I need to remind myself that a lot of the cliches in this book weren't as cliched when it was written.

There is a scene early in the book that is written in the standard heavy dark portentous manner that left me in stitches. We've all seen it and read it sooooo often. The professor has already sent word that he needs to be protected and guarded until he makes his huge announcement. So he steps out of the plane and begins, not a quick an
Dec 17, 2015 Marko rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The promise of the beginning of the story was not quite delivered in this one, although it was still a decent read. My disappointment might have been a bit stronger than someone else's mainly because I was looking forward to a werewolf story and this was more like an urban shapeshifter story.

Full review:
Peter Greenwell
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ayelén Glasswen
Apr 03, 2015 Ayelén Glasswen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
¡Desesperante! La situación del reportero Barbee, se vuelve más y más desesperante. ¿Cómo sería vivir en sueños una vida completamente diferente? Hasta ahí, va bien, pero ¿y si también resulta que te comportás como alguien diferente, y encima no te gusta ese alguien!? Ahora imaginá que los sueños se vuelven realidad…Resulta todo una verdadera pesadilla. Una novela que me pareció muy corta, pero re atrapante. Es genial como hasta casi último momento se aferra a una explicación racional de los suc ...more
Matteo Pellegrini

Un aeroporto di una quieta cittadina americana, alcune persone che aspettano il ritorno di una spedizione scientifica che ha compiuto importanti ritrovamenti archeologici nel deserto del Gobi: à questo lo scenario ove inizia una tra le pià affascinanti e indimenticabili opere di fantascienza di tutti i tempi, la storia della stirpe oscura nascosta all'interno del genere umano, del perduto segreto di ere incommensurabilmente antiche, della lotta eterna tra il Bene e il Male, tra il sangue del Gen

Frank Unknown
I gave it a mediocre score of 3 stars, but there's nothing really mediocre in this book. It's all about high highs and low lows. One minute I'm mentally yelling at our protagonist for being quite possibly the stupidest person in fiction, and the next, someone is being murdered by an invisible naked woman riding a were-sabertooth (also invisible). Whatever complaints I may have about this book, there's no taking that away. That's some glorious Frank Frazetta shit.

I'm not going to bother describin
Jan 31, 2014 HJ rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Definitely one of the greatest fantasy/horror novels of all time. Williamson is a Grand master of the science-fition genre, but his talents are on full display in this book about shape-shifters, human pre-history and murder. A worthy addition to any fantasy lover's shelf, digital or otherwise.
Keith Davis
Nov 29, 2009 Keith Davis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent atmospheric dark fantasy novel, with enough SF elements to keep it from drifting into horror range. The scene where the main character first transforms is unforgettable. The title pretty much sums up my reaction to the ending.
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John Stewart Williamson who wrote as Jack Williamson (and occasionally under the pseudonym Will Stewart) was a U.S. writer often referred to as the "Dean of Science Fiction".
More about Jack Williamson...

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“I'm a strict materialist - but the police are brutal materialists.” 5 likes
“With the vague hope that it might somehow explain his dream, he took one of his old textbooks from the shelves and tried to read the chapter on lycanthropy. The book cataloged the queerly universal primitive beliefs that human beings could change into dangerous carnivorous animals. He skimmed the list of human wolves and bears and jaguars, human tigers and alligators and sharks, human cats and human leopards and human hyenas. The were-tigers of Malaysia, he read, were believed invulnerable in the transformed” 1 likes
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