I have had a steady debate with a dear friend over whether or not Slaton and his tribe in Deep Connections were shapeshifters or werewolves. With determination, I stand by the fact the men in the tribe are shapeshifters. She swears they are werewolves. We go back and forth over it with neither one relenting. Let’s look into this more, and I’ll show you what I mean.
A shapeshifter is a creature, man or animal, that can change into another creature at will. They can become whatever they are designed to change into whenever they feel like it. That is what I have Slaton and his family as in the Connections trilogy. They can change into wolves for men, and the women can turn into eagles any time they need to which is part of the plot. When their tribe is threatened, they change into their animal forms in order to fight the threat and survive. This ability was a gift from the spirits for survival and protection.
A werewolf is someone who is forced to change into a wolf. Typically it is because of a full moon which draws the werewolf into wolf form usually with the result of blood and carnage. The will does not factor into the change from human to ravage animal. The person has been cursed or has been bitten by a werewolf in order to become one. Also, it typically is only with humans. You could say they have a disease.
To many people out there, a werewolf is anyone who changes into a wolf. It doesn’t have to be at will or controlled by the moon or other outside source. I stand by the definition that a werewolf is one that cannot control the change. He is at the mercy of the forces around him. A shapeshifter is in control. He can become one whenever he wants. A werewolf tends to be vicious and unable to control his blood thirst. A shapeshifter does not kill everything in sight. He changes with a purpose in mind and only deals with that and not the desire to eat and drink blood.
What do you think? Are werewolves and shapeshifters the same? If asked, the Lightfoot’s tribe are made up of shapeshifters. They are in complete control and not driven by lust for blood. I’d be interested in your take on this.