Review: The Last Werewolf by Glen Duncan

From Goodreads: Then she opened her mouth to scream—and recognised me. It was what I’d been waiting for. She froze. She looked into my eyes. She said, “It’s you.”

Meet Jake. A bit on the elderly side (he turns 201 in March), but you’d never suspect it. Nonstop sex and exercise will do that for you—and a diet with lots of animal protein. Jake is a werewolf, and after the unfortunate and violent death of his one contemporary, he is now the last of his species. Although he is physically healthy, Jake is deeply distraught and lonely.

Jake’s depression has carried him to the point where he is actually contemplating suicide—even if it means terminating a legend thousands of years old. It would seem to be easy enough for him to end everything. But for very different reasons there are two dangerous groups pursuing him who will stop at nothing to keep him alive.

Here is a powerful, definitive new version of the werewolf legend—mesmerising and incredibly sexy. In Jake, Glen Duncan has given us a werewolf for the twenty-first century—a man whose deeds can only be described as monstrous but who is in some magical way deeply human.

One of the most original, audacious, and terrifying novels in years.

The Last Werewolf isn’t a pretty tale, it isn’t a fairy tale, but it is better to scare you with, my dear. Vicious and haunting, Duncan paints the most violent scene in brilliant primal colors with his lyrical prose. If you had told me a year ago that Knopf (who published the recipient of the Orange Prize this year) would be publishing a literary werewolf novel I would have laughed out loud. Probably while pointing and laughing at you.

Jake is strong, very alpha male and incredibly gruff. Sick of life and running he decides to let the local van Helsing types kill him and end his suffering. He is however the last of his kind and circumstances give him a reason to fight.

The plot is slow and sensuous, grotesque and shocking. The Last Werewolf is not for the faint of heart but I have faith that those who are brave enough to open the pages and peer inside this monstrous tale will come out at the other side amazed at the brilliant turn of phrase and rumination Duncan showcases in this novel.

Vibrant and epic, gore and blood, this book has it in spades. What it also has is nuances of humanity, the feelings and ideas we all think and feel as we grow towards and through middle age. Jake is a beacon of deep thought and voilent tendencies although he isn’t the most likable character it hardly matters, after all how does one like a character that ate his newly pregnant wife?

I promise you that if this is the only werewolf novel you ever read, it will in fact be the most sophisticated. Lycanthropy has never been so philosophical.

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