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The Last Werewolf by Glen Duncan

Pub Date: | Reviewer: J. M. Cornwell

The Last Werewolf
Glen Duncan

Knopf Doubleday
7-14-11
Hardcover/340 pages
ISBN: 978-0307595089
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". . .uses the werewolf mythology to good effect. . ."

A stunning tale that turns the genre on its head despite literary contortions and acrobatics.

Jacob Marlowe has been a werewolf for one hundred sixty-seven years and is about two hundred years old. He has made his mark, accumulated a vast fortune, and has no wish to continue the allotted four hundred years of a werewolf’s life.

Marlowe knows the Hunt has killed the rest of his kind. He is the last and he is ready to return to the site of his creation and welcome the Hunters. His friend and familiar, Harley, wants Marlowe to go on living and Marlowe simply wants out. There is nothing left to live for and life feels pointless. Grainer, the lead Hunter, plans to take Marlowe out personally. Marlowe killed Grainer’s father many years ago and both are ready for the showdown of their lives.

The vampires want Marlowe as well and it will be a race to the finish to see who wins the prize in the end.

The difference between vampires and werewolves is all about language. Vampires speak and read and werewolves do neither, except for Jacob Marlowe. As The Last Werewolf Marlowe and Glen Duncan share the same problem, too many words. Add several different writing techniques—lack of punctuation, run-on sentences, stream of consciousness, literary acrobatics—and the result is a mish-mash of styles in an episodic tale that takes a considerable amount of time getting to the point. Duncan’s writing is at times pompous and overwrought as he flexes his literary muscles, much like a bodybuilder posing in front of a mirror.

I considered tossing the book a few times, but Duncan surprised me by throwing a curve and I was off again chasing Marlowe and trying to figure out who was playing whom. As frustrating as the writing is at times, Duncan tells a compelling story and, when he sinks his teeth into it, does so with breathtaking speed.

The Last Werewolf takes the mythology of lycanthropy, throws in vampires who loathes werewolves and need them to conquer their last frontier, and an exercise in planned obsolescence and science that fuels a race to the finish ending that leaves a satisfying sense of hope and promise. Duncan uses the werewolf mythology to good effect and stands alone in the genre.

Reviewer: J. M. Cornwell