The Last Werewolf

After I finished The Last Werewolf, in one long breathless half-guilty romp in my (empty, still-summer) office, I walked down the hall to my English colleague. “Fred,” I said solemnly, “I have just read the best werewolf novel ever written.” He looked at me with an eyebrow raised. “Was it Twilight?” he asked me.

Um, no. It wasn’t Twilight. Glen Duncan’s novel is smart, witty, ferociously sexy, fast-paced, ironic, and melancholy. Like every good horror novel, it’s frightening, and the Wolf is bigger, smarter, and hungrier than the Wer, but (again, like every good horror novel) that’s not what it’s about: it’s about loneliness and despair, and the way it’s possible to make connections where you thought there were none to be made, and extend mercy to yourself so you can live again.

The book is narrated by Jake Marlowe, a 201-year-old werewolf, last of his kind. All the rest have been hunted to extinction by WOCOP, spiritual descendants of Van Helsing, chasing occult phenomena. (Yes, there are vampires in this book. They smell terrible.) Jake, a whiskey-drinking, well-read aesthete, is tired of everything too, the endless logistics of finding a victim each full moon, not being caught by his enemies, staying alive. “I don’t have what it takes,” he tells us. “I still have feelings but I’m sick of having them. Which is another feeling I’m sick of having. . . . I just don’t want any more life.”

But life seeks Jake out. And instead of wanting to be taken by WOCOP and killed at the next full moon, he finds himself with a frantic, urgent reason to survive.

This book was terrific. This book was the bomb. It was funny, and chock-full of cultural references (there’s a moment when Jake quotes the first few sentences of Lolita that is particularly nice, in context.) I didn’t at all expect it to be so good; I kept giggling at it, in pleasure. Were there problems? Yes; the prose got quite purple and over-the-top in places, and the sex is very explicit (which didn’t trouble me but might trouble some.) But the snappy patter keeps coming, and the plot gets ever more James-Bondian (but with werewolves), and the overstuffed feeling gets washed away. As it turns out, this is the first in a trilogy. I feel quite lucky.

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23 Responses to The Last Werewolf

  1. I’m glad to hear this is good, as it’s on my TBR but I was feeling a bit supernatural-ed out at the moment. Something to look forward to!

  2. Wow, great review! Yours is the first that’s really made me excited to read this book. I picked The Last Werewolf up at the library a few months ago, thinking I might read it during a readathon… But then I wasn’t in the mood and returned it to the library unread. Maybe I’ll have to check it out again.

    • Jenny says:

      I actually think this would be perfect readathon reading, because it’s so plot-driven but also so well-written. Maybe you should save it for the next readathon!

  3. Can’t wait to read it! How DO you manage, the two of you, to read so many books so quickly, anyway? In the midst of posting, answering posts, doing writing, doing computer chores, and living a life (complete with compulsory exercise), I simply can’t read as fast as even half of what you two get done (assuming that represents one of you). Your site is really one of the best I’ve come across.

    • Jenny says:

      Thank you so much! What a nice comment. I know Teresa and I both make time for reading because we don’t make time for other valuable things that lots of people love to do (TV, crafts, running marathons.) We do have a life beyond books — Teresa especially loves theater and photography, and I have kids who take a lot of time — but this is our main thing!

  4. Nikki Steele says:

    Hooray! I love this book and find it’s a great gateway book for all of my male friends who “don'” read. I just read Talulla Rising that just came out and it was superb. Her voice is a lot funnier and doesn’t do the same moaning about that Jacob does in the beginning ;)

    • Jenny says:

      Oh, but I loved all that moaning about. :) I particularly liked the gear change in the middle. The whole thing worked well for me. I am delighted to hear that the sequel is so good!

  5. Pingback: On Writing about Vampires, Werewolves, and other Supernatural Creatures | The Write Stuff

  6. I’ve read such mixed reviews of this. Good to know you enjoyed it so much!

  7. gaskella says:

    This one has moved onto my bedside pile – I’ve not heard a bad thing about it and am glad you loved it – I’m sure I will too.

  8. sakura says:

    I really liked this book too and its sequal although I think I liked The Last Werewolf more because of the many literary allusions which Jake inserts into his life story. I loved the characters, the extremely fast pace of the plot, I just couldn’t wait to race through it! Can’t wait to read the final book in the trilogy!

    • Jenny says:

      I did love all the literary allusions. I’ll have to see how the sequel appeals — I’ve heard it’s good, though the change in voice may change things for me. I’m looking forward to it!

  9. Heather says:

    Though I am not really that into werewolf stories, this post has made me totally want to read this one! (And hm, now that I’m thinking about it, I’m more into werewolf stories than I am into, say, vampire stories or zombie stories…)

    • Jenny says:

      Ha! I actually like vampire stories if they’re original. I think this is the first werewolf novel I’ve ever read, but it was terrific!

      • Have you ever read de Maupassant’s putative vampire story “The Horla”? Because there’s a psychological factor to be considered, the main character can’t even be sure he’s perceiving accurately that there is a vampire of sorts. I just read it recently and wrote a short piece on it and another de Maupassant story today, so it’s very much in my mind. The psychological factor makes it similar to Henry James’s “The Turn of the Screw,” in which the governess may be accurately perceiving ghosts or may be simply imagining things.

  10. jmchshannon says:

    I loved this book. Its sequel is just as interesting. It takes some turns I just never expected. I know you are going to love it!

  11. *adds to wishlist* Not even on your blog for 2 minutes and already got another book added!

    New follower :)

  12. Donna says:

    Were you aware that there is a “soundtrack” album for this book? I found it by accident. Walked into Waterloo Records in Austin and it was on an end cap. Two days after I finished reading the book. It’s fun.

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