Hanover Falls hasn’t had a werewolf problem in over one hundred years, but when people suddenly start dying in Claire Benoit’s town, panic spreads fast. The gruesome killings are all anyone can talk about at Claire’s sixteenth birthday party, though the only thing on Claire’s mind is gorgeous Matthew Engle chatting and flirting with her as if she’s the only girl there. But that night, Claire discovers something that takes away all sense of normality: she’s a werewolf.
Claire knows she must keep her changing identity a secret, especially from Matthew, whose father is leading the werewolf hunt. But then a rogue werewolf threatens to put everyone she knows in danger. Struggling to feel comfortable in either skin, and with her lupine loyalty at odds with her human heart, Claire is forced to make a choice that will change her forever.
Claire Benoit lives in a world where werewolves exist and are feared for their attacks on humans but there hasn’t been a werewolf attack in Hanover Falls in over a century, until a body is found on the day of Claire’s 16th birthday party. Until then Claire’s biggest problem was attracting the attention of the gorgeous Matthew Engle whose father heads a research body that hunts werewolves in a bid to find a cure. However when Claire’s mum (an internationally renowned photographer) returns home, she gives Claire a bigger headache with the revelation that they’re both werewolves.
As Claire’s introduced to her mother’s pack and learns that everything she thought she knew about werewolves is wrong, she also realises that any romance with Matthew will put both her and the pack in danger. When the killings intensify, Matthew’s father becomes more determined to find and trap the wolf responsible and his methods more ruthless. Yet Matthew doesn’t seem to share his father’s views and Claire soon realises that she’s going to have to make a choice between who she is and what she wants.
Christine Johnson’s debut novel (the first in a series) has a well developed werewolf mythology that puts a feminist twist on the traditional legend – in her world, only women are capable of becoming wolves and they attribute the ability to a goddess. Similarly well developed is the politics behind the organisations devoted to hunting them, which gives background to Dr Engle’s determination to find a cure and his increasingly dubious methods of doing so.
While the foundations are there for an interesting story, the execution never quite seems to deliver. Claire is a bland character, never really coming to life on the page and whose worries about a hot boy seem shallow. Her authoritarian mother, a successful French-born photographer is thinly characterised, the werewolf twist doing little to enliven her battles with her daughter.
The mystery is telegraphed early on, robbing the plot of much-needed suspense and the Goddess element risks being overblown with its earnestness. There’s also the fact that the ends are tied up a little too patly, although there remains plenty of scope for the sequel.
It’s an okay read and there’s plenty of promise for the remaining books, but the stories really need to have more pizzazz if I’m to keep on reading.
There’s some interesting world-building here and the feminist take on werewolf mythology interesting, the overall story and characterisation never really grabbed my attention, with the mystery only ever being so-so. There’s promise here for the other books in the series, but the stories really need to have more zip for me to keep reading.
Thanks to Simon & Schuster for the free copy of this book.
Cross-posted to bookish, books, bookworming, booky_talk, fantasywithbite, urbanfantasyfan and yalitlovers.