Mackenzie and Amy were best friends.
Since then, Mac’s life has been turned upside down. She is being haunted by Amy in her dreams, and an extremist group called the Trackers has come to Mac’s hometown of Hemlock to hunt down Amy’s killer:
A white werewolf.
Lupine syndrome–also known as the werewolf virus–is on the rise across the country. Many of the infected try to hide their symptoms, but bloodlust is not easy to control.
Wanting desperately to put an end to her nightmares, Mac decides to investigate Amy’s murder herself. She discovers secrets lurking in the shadows of Hemlock, secrets about Amy’s boy-friend, Jason, her good pal Kyle, and especially her late best friend. Mac is thrown into a maelstrom of violence and betrayal that puts her life at risk.
Kathleen Peacock’s thrilling novel is the first in the Hemlock trilogy, a spell-binding urban fantasy series filled with provocative questions about prejudice, trust, lies, and love.
As a known skeptic when it comes to werewolf stories, I’m always pleasantly surprised when I find one that I genuinely enjoy. Kathleen Peacock’s Hemlock fit the bill and then some.
I liked that in the world where the story takes place, werewolves are known to exist. Lupine Syndrome is a real thing and a fact of life. That’s not to say they’re accepted – far from it. They’re sent to “rehabilitation camps”, where they’re supposed to be able to live out their lives constructively and in peace. In reality, these rehabilitation camps sound like the equivalent of concentration camps or gulags. It’s not hard to see why anyone who is afflicted with Lupine System does their best to keep it under wraps.
That’s where the Trackers come into play. The Trackers are pretty much exactly what they sound like – an independent band of trackers somewhat reminiscent of a militia – who hunt werewolves and take them into custody (or in some cases kill them dead). They have a very neo-Nazi vibe about them, from their racist views to their tattoos. There were a lot of similarities between the world that exists in Hemlock and a world run by Nazis. In fact, at one point I started thinking that I found it a little skeptical that a group like The Trackers could gain so much power and then I was like…oh yeah, right. Hitler. So that kind of made it seem a whole lot less unlikely.
For the most part I liked Mac a lot. She is obviously very shattered by the death of her best friend and she has to deal with reconciling her feelings about the werewolf who killed her friend with her feelings about at least one werewolf she happens to know personally. There was a really interesting mystery angle as well – not everything about Amy’s death was as it seemed, and while it was slightly predictable at times it really was a well-told story.
I was slightly less enthusiastic about the romance in the book, partly because it strayed into love triangle territory and partly because at least part of the love triangle seemed to come mostly out of nowhere. It is actually worked into the story pretty well, I just have a natural aversion to love triangles so it’s unsurprising that I had issues with it.
That said, my problems with the book were minor and I definitely recommend it. It’s a smartly written werewolf tale with lots of subtle (and some not so subtle) comments on societal issues.