Book Review: The Last Werewolf by Glen Duncan
Jake Marlowe is a two hundred year old werewolf, and, as the title suggests, is the last of his kind. For the last hundred years, no human has survived the bite of a lycanthrope, and werewolves are unable to have children, so when a shadowy organisation called WOCOP manage to hunt and kill off all of the remaining members of his species, Jake realises that he will be next, and he’s happy for it to happen.
The Last Werewolf is not the book I was expecting it to be. The first part of the novel covers Jake’s acceptance of his fate, and his recollections of his past. It’s fascinating, and one part in particular that happens shortly after his infection is brutal, upsetting, and haunts Jake for the following century and a half. Jake’s introspective musings are intriguing at first, and give a very solid impression of the character and his state of mind. There are a few places where it drags a bit, if I’m honest, but once things come back to the present, the story picks up the pace.
It seems that not everyone is happy with Jake’s decision to go quietly into the night. The chief werewolf hunter at WOCOP, for example, wants to kill Jake because he killed and ate his father, forty years before hand, and wants the satisfaction of a real fight. In addition, there is a veritable array of characters, from vampires who want to experiment on him, to splinter factions within WOCOP that realise that killing Jake will remove the very reason for their existence. Unfortunately, Jake just isn’t interested. Not until later in the book, anyway, when he finds a reason to fight for his life and for his species.
There were parts of this book that I absolutely loved. Some chapters absolutely blew me away. There were also parts that bored me a little, and that went on too long. And the ending flat out annoyed me. There were a few plot threads that went nowhere, and a couple of things were left up in the air, presumably for the sequel if this book goes down well.
Readers looking for a mindless gore fest would be better off seeking an alternative. This book is as much an examination of what it means to be human, and where the line is between man and beast, than an out and out horror novel.
In spite of those niggles, though, The Last Werewolf was an intriguing, shocking and, in places, moving read. It’s an intelligent look at werewolves and is one of the best examples of werewolf fiction out there, despite its flaws.
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