Werewolves – exclusive sneak review

With big thanks to Kat over at Abrams & Chronicle Books for this exclusive sneak peek at a very cool book they are putting together for release in October. 

  WEREWOLVES was illustrated by Allyson Haller and written by Paul Jessup

 Werewolves is an illustrated journal by a young girl called Alice.  It starts on the night her and her older brother Mark get attacked in the local park by a pack of dogs. The journal is really just that – Alice writing down her thoughts and feelings as she starts noticing changes in her brother and herself.

 It records her progressively more feral dreams and thoughts.  A sworn vegetarian she finds herself deeply conflicted but pragmatic about her midnight raids on the thawing steak in their fridge.  The accompanying artwork is beautiful – at times surreal and at times strongly vivid, it reflects Alice’s feelings and tells us as much as the short descriptive paragraphs she writes.

 Her brother Mark starts hanging out with a group of unpleasant older boys.  They go camping and invite Alice along but she’s hesitant.  She does not like these boys and she’s worried about her brother.  He’s always been an outsider and acted strangely, but he now acts even stranger.  Compounded with how he’s acting, she’s noticed a van following her around and she makes sure not to be anywhere on her own where she can’t take care of herself.

 Her dreams become more bloodthirsty and feral.  She wakes up covered in blood, feeling nauseous, with torn clothes. Her brother eventually convinces her to join them on in the woods, on their camping trip.  There she meets Tomas and he reveals that Mark, Alice and the boys Mark now hangs out with, are all werewolves. 

 Alice doesn’t believe him at first, thinking he means they are wolves, as in inner predators, a bunch of new agers.  But when Tomas transforms before her eyes, she has no choice but to believe.

 She is slowly drawn into running with the wolf pack.  She explains the pack dynamics and what it feels like to run and feel free.  Combined with this, Alice shows how she worries about her humanity, taking a chance to go into town, where she meets some hunters.  They warn her about the pack, that both Alice and her brother are in danger because of them.  That the hunters realise that they are still close to human and can be saved, especially as there is a rumoured cure out there.

 It’s a very interesting story with wonderful rich illustrations.  It would be wrong to call it a graphic novel because it’s not the usual style we see graphic novels coming in.  The best description is definitely an illustrated journal as we are sharing dark thoughts and feelings of a young woman who feel more and more vulnerable in a world where nothing is what it seems.

The overall feel of Werewolves is one of growing isolation, even when part of the pack and through Alice’s astute comments we run the gamut of feelings with her, experiencing fear and elation and concern about her brother Mark and his role within the pack.

However, having said all of that, Werewolves is one of those books that you will have to have once you’ve seen it in the “flesh” so to speak.  The illustrations and storytelling is unique and beautiful, making it one of those rare books that you want to give as a gift, but you don’t want to really share it with anyone else because it is just too cool.

 Werewolves should be out in October here in the UK from Chronicle Books.

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