Daveosaurus (southerndave) wrote in book_rec,

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Book Review - Martin Millar - "Lonely Werewolf Girl"

This is one book that seems to be relying on word of mouth for most of its marketing. All the references I've seen to it so far have been from people who've read it and liked it. Of course, some of the people who've read it and liked it and recommend it have been quite influential themselves (I think I first found out about the book by reading Neil Gaiman's blog).

It's also not an easy book to locate. I finally managed to find a copy in a music shop, of all places. (Real Groovy's Dunedin branch in Great King Street, if anyone's interested). But it's definitely worth the work of hunting out.

Lonely Werewolf Girl is a huge story, but the most important characters to the book are the ones that would be considered less important if this was a traditional Epic. In this case, it's the story of Kalix MacRinnalch - the "lonely werewolf girl" of the title - living rough in London while hiding from the more loathsome members of her more or less loathsome family; and of Daniel and Moonglow, two university students who end up befriending Kalix, who has no real say in the matter.

There's a lot more going on in the book than just Kalix's story, however. All sorts of plots and plans are being made; some of which involve Kalix, and not in a particularly pleasant way. But, for all that this is a serious and quite sombre story, there is a strong thread of humour running through the book. Just about any scene involving the fashion-conscious fire elemental, Malveria, is likely to produce a belly-laugh; and so are the scenes involving two of the less dislikeable of Kalix's extended family who are living an Absolutely Fabulous life of dissolute hedonism elsewhere in London.

There's also humour in the storytelling, even when serious matters are under discussion:
Moonglow had long black hair, soft pretty features, a firm belief in astrology, a kind nature, and no experience of irate landlords. She was certain that if she encountered one, she'd find it very awkward.
This isn't to say that serious matters are taken excessively lightly, though. There's plenty of drama and violence, from both two-footed and four-footed characters.

Don't let the size of the book put you off. It's a big book, but it doesn't feel like a big book to read. The story's paced more like an action movie: short chapters (averaging less than three pages!) and quick cuts from one plotline to another. Characters aren't left hanging for so long that the reader needs a memory refreshment session before getting back into the action. There is very little to find fault with in this book - the only noticeable faults to me were a number of typographical errors which indicate that someone had let a somewhat less than sympathetic spelling checker program at the manuscript. (In one particularly noticeable example, major character Sarapen MacRinnalch's first name was misspelt Sharpen). But that's a relatively minor nuisance (and, hopefully, will be fixed in subsequent printings of the book).

This book is not just readable, it's eminently re-readable; I'm already keen to give it a second read-through and I've only owned it a month. Indeed, I don't often think this highly of a book. If you have even a slight interest in werewolves and contemporary urban thrillers, I'd recommend this book without reservation.
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