I straight-up LOVE werewolves. This isn’t the result of any “Team Jacob” leanings; I’ve always held werewolves up as my favorite of the mythical creatures. I’ve even got a Spotify playlist solely devoted to werewolf songs! Something about the idea of our savage, inner selves bursting uncontrollably to the fore, obliterating–even just for one night–all of the social niceties and societal mores that simultaneously constrain us and make us human, is incredibly interesting. When written well–and I mean in their slavering, bestial glory–werewolf stories serve as a dark mirror reflecting our baser natures. (That’s part and parcel of what bothers me about some current werewolf stories: too much focus on romance, not enough on tearing prey apart, angsting about becoming a murderous animal, and generally being awesome.)
Bearing that in mind, it was with glee that I devoured Glen Duncan’s The Last Werewolf. THIS IS WHAT I’M TALKIN’ ABOUT. This was one of the last books I read in 2011, and it is definitely on my list of faves from that year. Our narrator, Marlowe, is a centuries-old werewolf who also happens to be the last of his kind. Lonely, weary, and bored, Jake is contemplating ending his life–and thus the legend of the werewolf–when he’s suddenly thrust into the plottings and conspiracies of not only the supernatural hunters, but other supernatural entities themselves. Along the way, he discovers a reason to keep on living. (I’m trying my best to avoid spoilers here!)
I very much enjoyed The Last Werewolf. I would almost call it a supernatural thriller; it’s fast-paced and exciting, once the plot picks up and we start following Marlow’s adventures. It’s dark. It’s challenging (since you are sort of rooting for a serial killer). And best of all, Marlowe is a smart, philosophical guy, and so we get his meditations on life and death alongside all of the carnage. For a book about werewolves, parts were awfully realistic. His debauchery actually struck me as quite realistic for someone who has lived for 200 years; I imagine you get bored after seeing history repeat itself one too many times. While some of the twists and turns may have strayed into unbelievable territory, I was happy to be along on the ride.
The Last Werewolf is certainly not for the faint of heart; there’s swearing, gore, and sex, in addition to the general dark tones and themes. But hey, it’s a book about werewolves–I would have been disappointed with anything else.
Bookwanderer Rating: Four stars