Title: The Last Werewolf
Author(s): Glen Duncan
Genre(s): Horror, Paranormal
Publisher/Date: Canongate Books Ltd / March 1, 2011
Series: The Last Werewolf (Book #1)
"Here is a powerful, definitive new version of the werewolf legend--mesmerising and incredibly sexy. In Jake, Glen Duncan has given us a werewolf for the twenty-first century--a man whose deeds can only be described as monstrous but who is in some magical way, deeply human." –Amazon.com
The Game's Afoot
My first initial impressions of this book weren’t all that great, if I’m being honest. I found the writing to be a bit tedious and wordy. But once I got past the blatant “oh-woe-is-me” monotony of the first few chapters, it transformed (much like Jake, himself) into something much more poignant and exciting, something not unlike a James Bond film, actually. It gets gritty, dark and in places, kind of campy. There are secret organizations, beautiful women, guns, cars and cliffhangers galore. But that’s also what keeps it from being too bogged down with intensity. That and amusing quips like “Reader, I ate him.” You can’t help but root for a guy like that, even if he is a "bad one." Character development isn’t Duncan’s only strength though. He holds our suspension of disbelief and brings the magic of transformation to life in his detailed descriptions of Jake’s physical and mental change. This is a real-world example of the old writer’s adage “show, don’t tell,” one that I’ve really come to appreciate. We’re given a clear sense of Jake’s world, both pre and post infection. Yep. There's even a bit of sci-fi sprinkled in there. Duncan flips the script on what we know about vampires, werewolves and the supernatural world and I have to say, it’s a refreshing change for the horror genre.
I know it sounds like there’s a lot going on and there is, but it's good stuff if you can just push through it. If you’re looking for “light reading” then this definitely isn’t the book for you, but for those enjoy a great piece of literature full of substance, you've found a sure winner. Duncan has done a superb job of creating an interesting albeit morally ambiguous protagonist. Jake Marlowe is someone I’d love chat with over a fancy dinner; ya know, provided there’s not a full moon that night. He’s cultured, wry, morose and deeply jaded, and despite all his tragic set-backs, we come to see that he’s still a man underneath all that monster. So I leave you with this, dear Reader: “In the meantime there’s the Curse to get through. Tonight’s the full moon, and the Hunger doesn’t care what you’ve been through or what your fears are or where you’ll be next week. There’s a comfort in it, the purity of its demand, its imperviousness to reason or remorse. The hunger, in its vicious simplicity, teaches you how to be a werewolf.” And wouldn't you know--that's something I've always wanted to know.
Summary PrognosisThe Last Werewolf is definitely not what you’d expect from a horror novel—where most are all bark, this one’s all bite. It’s intense and philosophical, a total paradox—too silly to take seriously but also too well- written to go unappreciated. In any case, the premise alone makes this one completely worth the time. Just make sure you have a dictionary handy and are prepared for the deep, philosophical musings that it conjures up. Book clubs, unite! This is a discussionary winner!
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