Monday, July 16, 2012

The Last Werewolf

Title: The Last Werewolf
Author: Glen Duncan
Genre: Horror/Dark Humor
Types of Werewolves: Bipedal hybrid
How Lycanthropy is Caused: Bite, forced change every full moon

Synopsis: With a craving for sex, fresh meat, and a good scotch that ebbs and flows with the arrival and departure of the full moon, Jake Marlowe begins a downward spiral into depression and apathy after learning that he is the last of his species. The charismatic 200-year-old werewolf is then on the run from professional werewolf hunters, vampires, and eccentric millionaires alike, all the while contemplating the significance of his own demise. And just when he's ready to give himself up, he happens upon a very good reason to keep living...

Review: Cleverly written from, mostly, the point of view of Jake Marlowe, the book leaves just enough mystery with regard to the werewolf mythos to keep you interested and speculating. There are a lot of facts regarding his own species that even Jake is unsure of and he gives good reason for it through the course of the book. Some aspects readers may find familiar, such as the vulnerability to silver and the effects of the full moon, while others are rather new, such as the werewolf's ability to devour their victims, body and soul, and in a fashion most gruesome and tragic. The fascinating and complex characters help to move along a well-paced plot that will keep you turning pages until the very last paragraph. Duncan has a great sense of characterization and is one of the few male authors I've read that can write a convincing female character. (I hear this becomes more evident in the newly-published sequel, Tallulah Rising, which I have yet to read.) Jake has a very unabashed yet poetic manner of describing things, which can make some scenes both uncomfortable and somewhat humorous in their intimacy. He doesn't hide anything from the reader in regards to describing his first change, his first experience as a werewolf, and the mental and physical limbo of going through the transformation every month. Even though it only happens during the full moon, most of the werewolf's time is spent winding up to it and then winding down, thus the scenes where he does spend time as his alter-ego are particularly intriguing if few and far between. I suppose that would be my only real complaint about this book; the werewolf experience, while certainly the highight of the book, is rather limited. Even as he spends most of his time in human form, it takes too much of a backseat to the drama in the foreground. I would have preferred a more even blend, perhaps that the werewolves were able to change more often rather than only on the full moon (or perhaps had a few more full moon sessions to describe), but with the manner in which Duncan approaches it, stressing the seriousness and tragedy of the circumstance, it is clear that it is indeed a central axis to everything in the book. I just prefer a bit more wolfy action in my werewolf novels. I suppose that is something I really appreciate about Duncan's werewolf novel in that the story is motivated more by the characters rather than their circumstances, making it feel as though it could appeal to a wider audience rather than just werewolf-nuts like myself. Overall, I think it could have done with a bit more elaboration on the mythos itself, but what Duncan does have is so well-preserved and presented that it is clear he was trying to do justice to the original tales while adding just a dash of his own preferences - i.e. The werewolves are bipedal, monstrous creatures, but, while overwhelmingly motivated by the desire to consume, still retain their human faculties. Thus giving the monster more a true sense of tragedy than most other werewolf novels I've read.

I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in character drama as well as werewolves especially if you enjoy cleverly-written, graphic narrative framed by very natural-sounding dialogue and loveable, if incredibly flawed, characters that feel more "real" than any werewolf book I've read thus far.

-Review by Rare-Form 

Friday, August 6, 2010

Wolf's Bluff

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Author: W. D. Gagliani
Genre: Horror, Suspense
Setting: Wisconsin
Types of Werewolves: Bipedal and Quadrupedal
How Lycanthropy is Caused: Infection from a bite

Synopsis: The story picks up after the events in Wolf's Gambit. Werewolf cop Nick Lupo has recently discovered a hive of private mercenaries in Georgia who also happen to be werewolves. After a trip to gather information on them, he realizes that he has led the other werewolves right to the people he cares about the most. If that wasn't enough of a problem, a series of brutal "animal attacks" are plaguing the nearby town of Wausau.

Review: The latest installment of Gagliani's Nick Lupo series doesn't disappoint. The beginning starts with a bang but then things slow down a bit to focus on some of the tension that's been building up between Jessie and Nick. After that the momentum of the story steadily builds up to the suspenseful and blood drenched finale. The emotions are raw and the violence is even more so. Combine that with one hell of a cliffhanger for an ending, and you've got another successful werewolf novel from Mr. Gagliani!

Author's Website:

Review By: PenningtonBeast

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Cursed to Death

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Author: L.A. Banks
Genre: Paranormal/Urban Fantasy
Setting: New Orleans, LA
Types of Werewolves: Normal wolves, bipedal wolf monsters, "Shadow Wolves"
How Lycanthropy is Caused: Genetics, Infection from a bite

Synopsis: Sasha and Hunter are still in New Orleans after their battle with the rival werewolves and the vampire cartel. Now they owe the Fae a favor since they stood by them in court. When two Phoenixes end up murdered, Sir Rodney, the leader of the Fae, sends Sasha and Hunter to investigate. What they discover is a dark curse that causes the Fae to lose their glamour and become visible to average humans. Things go downhill from there after the same curse causes Hunter the Shadow Wolf and Shogun the werewolf to become irrational and territorial over Sasha. As usual, the vampires are the main suspects.

Review: Disappointed in this one. It was mostly about the Fae characters and not the werewolves. Plus, Sasha gets sexually assaulted and nearly sexually assaulted multiple times throughout the book. And most of the characters don't seem to care much about their behavior, even after the dark curse that causes them to act that way is lifted. Because of this, I was left unsure about whether I wanted to continue reading the series or not. It just seemed like such a cop-out excuse to me. And the whole story arc with Hunter and Shogun competing with each other has gotten old, to say the least. There were a few good parts, such as when Sasha and Hunter enter the shadow realm to fight the ethereal demon wolf forms of themselves, but most of it was rather uninteresting.

It's not a complete disaster, but it could have been MUCH better. So, unless you're a hardcore L.A. Banks fan, I'd skip this one. I'll probably read the next in the series and hope that it's an improvement and that the werewolves are a more prominent feature. Also, I'm interested to see the president's response to learning about the supernatural in the next installment. I would also like to see the story arc about the disembodied were-snow leopard fleshed out (no pun intended). But if the next "Crimson Moon" novel is as disappointing as this one, I'll be cutting the series from my reading list.

-Reviewed by: PenningtonBeast

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Monday, January 11, 2010

Wyrm Wolf

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Author: Edo Van Belkom
Genre: Horror, Dark Fantasy
Setting: San Francisco, California
Types of Werewolves: Different Forms: Bipedal Wolf Monsters, Normal Wolves, Larger Than Normal Wolves
How Lycanthropy is Caused: Heredity

Synopsis: Father Oldman, a werewolf posing as a Catholic priest, runs a homeless shelter and soup kitchen in the "Tenderloin" area of San Francisco. When gruesome murders of the local homeless start occurring, he suspects it's the work of a werewolf, or "Garou", who has succumbed to the evils of the Wyrm.

Review: I enjoyed Edo Van Belkom's werewolf series for teens and was excited to see his take on Werewolf: The Apocalypse. Wyrm Wolf definitely has the author's unique way of taking monstrous creatures and making them noble and humane. Father Oldman's great concern for the homeless is an example. This book was different from the other Werewolf: The Apocalypse novels in that the characters never crossed over into the spirit world, the Umbra, which is a major component of the Garou's existence. Also, I thought the Garou in the forest were too lenient with the reporter in showing her their caern, it seemed like an uncharacteristic thing for them to do. The only thing I would have liked to improve would be for the evil werewolf, Wingnut, to have more frequent gory scenes.

-Reviewed by : PenningtonBeast

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Pack: Winter Kill

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Author: Mike Oliveri
Illustrator: Dirk Shearer
Genre: Horror, Suspense, Crime
Setting: Rural Minnesota
Types of Werewolves: Bipedal Wolf Monsters
How Lycanthropy is Caused: Heredity?

Synopsis: A gun smuggler named Rod and his cronies meet up with a gang of skinheads out in the Minnesota wilderness. The deal goes bad when two hiker stumble upon them and end up shot to death by the skinheads, and Rod's pilot gets killed in the crossfire. This sets off an investigation by FBI agent Angela Wallace and her partner. She suspects that something strange is going on with the Tyler's, the family that owns the nearby cabins and lodge. The story takes place two years after the events in the comic Werewolves: Call of the Wild by Moonstone Press.

Review: The Pack: Winter Kill is a promising start to a new series, even though the majority of the first novel doesn't offer much information on the werewolf family and is rather brief in length. The parts where the werewolves feature, though, are delightfully bloody and vicious. I think the character Angela could have used some more attention and backstory since it appears that she will be a central character in the upcoming installments.

However, what I'm not thrilled about is the fact that the next installment of the story is going to be in graphic novel form. It's not that I dislike graphic novels, but the switch back and forth between print and pictures seems like it will make the story inconsistent and be less effective. I would rather the series be in all print or in all comic form. It also bothers me that part of the stort revolves around the events from the author's previous comic release, Werewolves: Call of the Wild. I think it would have been helpful for the readers who haven't read the comic to have a prologue about the events with Will Tyler and his wife. Hopefully, the graphic novel will be illustrated by the same artist who did the cover art for Winter Kill.

-Reviewed by: PenningtonBeast

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Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Evil Moon

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Author: Harrison Ray
Genre: Horror, Crime, Mystery
Setting: Lincoln, Nebraska; Manitou Springs, Colorado
Types of Werewolves: Bipedal wolf monsters
How Lycanthropy is Caused: By a magic curse, Transmitted by a bite.

Synopsis: Davis Veoh, a police officer from Lincoln, Nebraska, is searching for a wild animal that has attacked and killed several young girls in the area. Things take a turn when he discovers that the only survivor of the attacks is his own daughter. Meanwhile a wealthy ex-safari hunter, Randolph Wetstone Jr., is trying to make a bid for senate in the next election, while also trafficking drugs with the local motorcycle gang, the Necromancers. There's also more to Wetstone than meets the eye.

Review: While Evil Moon is an entertaining read, there are some major flaws with the novel. First of all, there are WAY too many spelling and grammatical errors. Mostly it's extra commas inserted in the middle of sentences and the incorrect uses of "to", "too", and "two". Quotation marks are sometimes left out when the characters are speaking. Another problem with the story is the abrupt cut-off of some of the story arcs, such as the conflict with the terrorist militia and the discovery of Randolph's mother. I think a lot of that could have been cut out to reduce the overall length of the story. There are almost too many minor characters to keep track of. The author should definitely hire a editor if he chooses to submit Evil Moon to a major publisher in the future, or if he is considering a sequel.
Other than that, Evil Moon is an enjoyable read with interesting characters and plenty of horror action. This author has a lot of potential, and it would be good to see a sequel to Evil Moon in the future, as long as the same mistakes aren't made twice.

-Reviewed by: PenningtonBeast

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Friday, December 25, 2009

The Werewolf Of London

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: Carl Dreadstone aka Ramsey Campbell
Genre: Movie Tie-In
Setting: London, England
Types of Werewolves: Wolf man
How Lycanthropy is Caused: By being bitten.

Synopsis: The search for a rare plant takes Wilfred Glendon on a expedition into the Himalayas, where he gets attacked by wolf like creatures. Back home he discovers that a bestial curse has followed him from the snows of Tibet to the fogs of London. Now he cowers in his laboratory, disgusted by his own weird transformation, yet unable to prevent it. The extract of the night blooming Mariphasa provides a passing relief on the nights of the full moon from the curse of the beast, but the plant is difficult to cultivate outside of its mountain home and in Wilfred Glendon grows the longing to just give in to the werewolf, aware that the creature instinctively seeks to kill what he loves best.

Review: The Werewolf of London is a movie tie-in adapted from a script written by John Colton after Robert Harris’s short story. Campbell avoids to simply follow the movie, instead he presents us the events from the perspective of Wilfred Glendon, and here actually lays a true strength of the book. He details the growing emotional desperation with which Glendon alternately searches for a cure, to prevent himself from slaughtering the one he loves best, and his longing to give in to the beast. Fans will note that Campbell took some liberties with the movie’s tale and we find only two fleshed out characters in his take: Glendon and Yogami. Some of the changes did make sense to me and provided for a more interesting read than if he had just retold the movie, others jarred too much against what I remembered from it. I did feel the end to be rather anti-climatic, but nonetheless enjoyed the rest of the story. Bottom line: At a short, fast written 160 pages the book offers a worthwhile diversion for a couple hours.

-Reviewed By Daninsky