Science Fiction and Fantasy Association of New Zealand

Lonely Werewolf Girl Lonely Werewolf Girl
by Martin Millar
Piatkus Books

Supplied for review by Hachette New Zealand

Reviewed By: Alicia Ponder
Jan Butterworth

Depressive werewolf girl is hunted by her own family. She has nowhere to go, and no life until she is rescued by two extraordinary humans who find themselves caught in the middle of two power struggles: one centred on a rather crazy clothing-obsessed elemental; and the other, a bid for the werewolf leadership -- a struggle in which the Werewolf girl's dead body would be a very powerful bargaining chip.

I'm so deeply divided about this book. The prose is stultifying, it's almost like eating baby food that's been chopped down until it's so soft all the texture is missing. But even so, and this is where the deeply divided comes in -- this baby food has kick. There's wit and charm, and the odd glimpse of three dimensions in amongst the cut-out two dimensional characters. Even better, against the odds, the apparently rambling plot of feud and counter-feud comes together to a relatively satisfying conclusion, so in the end all I can say is people like this book. They do. My copy went flying across the floor more than once, but I still made it to the end, which is more than I can say about quite a few books lately.

It's the sort of story that can make a so-so author into a name, not because it's brilliant, but because it has the things that teenagers are looking for in a story, sex, drugs, depression, rock and roll, and originality. It's not preachy. It doesn't glamorise, it just gets on with the plot as two -- no three -- very different worlds collide. I'll never love this book, for me it was twilight all over again, maybe edgier, more exciting, and far less sentimental, but still pulp -- a fact proudly proclaimed by the cover as it declares the author has invented a new genre; "pulp fantasy noir."

-- Alicia Ponder

Isolated and alone, Kalix MacRinnalch is living on the streets of London, dodging murderous werewolf hunters and family members while feeding her laudanum habit. Her clan is in Scotland, plotting and planning how to drag Kalix back to face trial for attacking her father, the Thane, werewolf king. Her sister Thrix is also in London, building up her fashion business, designing clothes for the Fire Queen and keeping out of werewolf politics.

Kalix is almost caught by hunters and manages to escape with the help of Daniel, a human university student. He takes her to his flat where she is looked after by his flatmate, Moonglow. They are shocked to find Kalix is starving and almost illiterate, and further shocked by her brother showing up and trying to kill her. They persuade Thrix to help hide her sister, with the assistance of the Fire Queen. Meanwhile, back in Scotland, the MacRinnalch clan plots to elect an heir for the Thane.

I was put off by the cover quote from Neil Gaiman, describing Martin Miller as writing "like Kurt Vonnegut might have written, if he’d been born fifty years later in a different country and hung around with entirely the wrong sort of people". I really don’t like Vonnegut, finding him too dark and weird.

I started this book slowly and by chapter 17 was convinced I didn’t like it (chapters being 2-3 pages).But then I reached the middle. People around Kalix were drawing together, leaving her surrounded by friends. I’m glad I kept reading, this is a very good story, with a theme of drawing together to beat adversity. This is marketed at teens but can be read by adults. Try it. Stick with it. It’s worth it.

-- Jan Butterworth

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