As you’d expect, there’s a lot of witchery in this collection of short stories. There are a few werewolf tales too, of course, but the anthology is heavy with malefic magic.
In general, Rod Serling’s Triple W: Witches, Warlocks and Werewolves includes an outstanding selection of stories, but it definitely doesn’t start off with a bang. In the first story, a pair of feuding witches turns a grifter into a cat. In the second story, a woman turns her husband into a dog—and later, in a twist, the husband turns his wife into a horse.
Thankfully, the quality of the stories improves dramatically once you get past these two ailuranthropy and cynanthropy contributions. For example, there’s a story about an amateur witch who screws up all her spells, another story about an elderly gentleman who serendipitously discovers he’s the high priest of a Boston coven and then there’s the story about a young man whose wife of three months is in league with the devil. The book ends with a 21-page history of witch trials from the 16th century to the 19th century.
Without a doubt the best story endorsed by Serling for this vintage 1963 collection is written by Jane Roberts. As a genre workout, “The Chestnut Beads” is simply about sorority sisters and an A-bomb explosion in New York. More than that, however, Roberts has a lot to say about a woman’s responsibility to the future. Men are the destroyers, she writes, and women are the creators. “Once more we are being asked to re-create the universe. But creation is not a kind act. It is an act of cruelty, and act of hatred against the darkness. The time has come when our hate must kill our love; when love can grow again from the rotting seeds of rage.”
And finally, beyond witches and werewolves, I’m always a sucker for stories about people who think they can outwit the devil. Except for Daniel Webster, nobody has ever done it. In “Blind Alley” by Malcolm Jameson, a wealthy gentleman pays Satan (a.k.a. “His Nibs”) to send him back to his childhood hometown 40 years earlier. He’s nostalgic for the past because “he hated modern women, the blatancy of the radio, the man in the White House and everything else.” Naturally, things go askew pretty quickly. Satan breaks his contract, collects his soul and turns up the heat. “See you in Hell, old thing,” he laughs.
[Rod Serling’s Triple W: Witches, Warlocks and Werewolves / Edited by Rod Serling / First Printing: May 1963]