What It’s About
A professor meets a strange man who claims to be half werewolf. As the former learns the latter’s family history, he becomes increasingly attracted, and comes to confront realities about his own identities.
Why I Think You’d Like It
Full disclosure – I’m a sucker for werewolves. They are by far my favorite of the classic monsters. Unfortunately, I don’t think the average movie or book uses them well. Werewolves don’t just scare. They explore nature, civilization, shifting identities and humanity itself. Unfortunately, ninety percent of werewolf stories feel more like the author wrote a vampire story, decided it wasn’t original enough, then hastily changed it. Still, when an author tries to do something properly werewolfy, the result is some of the best stories horror has to offer.
This book firmly belongs in that latter category. It makes you equal parts terrified, fascinated and in love with its subject. It is philosophical, but not the measured philosophy of lecture halls. It’s the trembling, awestruck philosophy of the mad hermit in the woods. It is gory, but not the sickening splatter of modern slasher. It’s the strangely elegant gore of Gothic horror.
On a less pretentious note, I loved the plot and the characters. The viewpoint characters all had beautifully distinct voices. It drives me mad when a story shifts between multiple first person POVs and I lose track of who is talking. I never had that problem with this book.
Also, on one more personal note, there are multiple non-stereotypical queer characters. I can’t say any more without spoilers, but I was happy and I think other LGBTQ readers will be too.
This books contain violence, anthropophagy (I feel wrong calling it cannibalism given how the shapeshifters insist they aren’t human) and a rape scene. The latter is actually necessary to the plot, not just there for drama. It also avoids being erotic, in a way that feels self-aware and intentional. Plenty of scenes throughout the book contain sexual imagery, but this one doesn’t and the narrative text constantly rebuffs the attacker’s attempts to frame it as anything but assault. The survivor is an interesting character who retains agency before and after the assault. Honestly, if your plot absolutely requires a rape scene, this is how they should be written.
But you know, trigger warnings and whatnot.