Book Review: The Last Werewolf by Glen Duncan

After the only other werewolf in existence is killed, Jake Marlowe finds himself alone. Contemplating his own existence, the impending extinction of his species and giving serious thought to suicide and thus ending a 200 year curse (middle aged for a werewolf), Marlowe recounts a largely mundane existence of mere survival against humanity, the elements and his enemies.

He hides from an organisation known as WOCOP and realises his precarious position when it also seems that vampires are out to get him too and these are no sparkly emos either! But are they after him to kill him or do they want him for something else…?

When he is kidnapped, fully 1/3 of the way through the book, the story really begins and he starts to uncover the bizarre plot that will set up for an intriguing storyline surrounding WOCOP, the vampires and himself and finally, in the middle of his despair, Marlowe finds several reasons to go on living. Nothing can prepare him for the earth-shaking discoveries he is about to uncover and the more the book goes on, the more we as the reader want to accompany him in his journey.

I like the style in which this is written. It is in the first person and with a very thoughtful protagonist contemplating his isolation, there is almost something literary about the work. That doesn’t mean though that it is short on action of events to drive the narrative, it doesn’t. What we have is a hybrid of strong characterisation and engaging plot that I found both a pleasant surprise and refreshing… I guess despite being intrigued by the blurb when I read the summary on the kindle page (I bought this as a “daily deal” some months ago), I still had some fears that it would be a Twilight clone.

It is also a far more sombre affair than Kelley Armstrong’s early work featuring a world where there is only one female werewolf in Elena Michaels before she chose to move away from lycanthropy. But the two works complement each other and are worth reading close together, if not one after the other, in order to fully appreciate the contrasting tones. Bitten is lively and sexy. This is far more… I hate to use the now overused “dark” – though it isn’t… I think the best word I’m looking for is “gritty”. The feeding scenes are graphic yet bizarrely artistic, that is, violent but not graphic for graphic’s sake. Similarly, the sex scenes feel realistic, sometimes deliberately emotionless, sometimes intensely visceral but never flowery or perfunctory. If there was ever an award for good sex scenes in a book then this should have been a contender.

There are some genuine moments of black humour, topical issues worked into the text and some amusing word play. For example, one of the chapters begins “Reader, I ate him” which for anybody who knows the classic it refers to really points to the quirky and eclectic style of writing. Duncan is a fine writer and he takes pleasure in the art here.

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