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 

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