I finished Glen Duncan’s The Last Werewolf in a state of breathless, delirious, heart-pounding wonder at the sheer goddamn power of words.
The experience of reading it feels thrillingly like the transformation that narrator Jake Marlowe endures every full moon, in his position as the last werewolf alive. Each sentence pulses with the throb of conceptual power and melancholy; each sentence has velocity and snap, like live-wires crackling.
Jake is, understandably, somewhat jaded and dissolute, having been alive for two hundred years, and facing the prospect of two hundred more. Finding out he’s just become the last of his kind only adds to his draining ennui. Especially since his mortal enemy, Grainer, leader of the Hunt and representative of WOCOP (World Organization for the Control of Occult Phenomena), has vowed to claim Jake’s scalp for himself at the next full moon. Jake knows it, and has a plan for waiting it out until then.
Naturally, things go quickly and massively awry. It’s a novel; what did you expect?
The narrative powers relentlessly along with genre-bending, mind-blowing velocity. It’s full of mythic arcs, James Bond-style thrills, Inception-level reversals, adrenaline-provoking twists, wickedly postmodern flourishes and scene after scene of undeniable beauty, savagery, poetry and sensuality.
The fact is, this book about a werewolf will show you exactly what it means to be human; will swell and fill your awareness of what being human means, and expand it accordingly.
In this sense — sentences of remarkable power, thrilling intelligence and gorgeous luminosity — The Last Werewolf is akin to Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall, which, depsite being about Thomas Cromwell in the court of Henry VIII, was (metaphorically) darkly populated with its own particular brand of vampires and werewolves, and was forged in the complex, conceptual machinations of humanity at its darkest; and therefore illuminated us all.
If there’s any justice, The Last Werewolf will win the Man Booker Prize, just as Wolf Hall did.
As a writer, The Last Werewolf is one of those rare books that’s so jaw-droppingly brilliant, it stops you in your tracks, demanding one of two responses: (1) you stop what you’re doing right there, because this is just too damn good; (2) you take a deep breath, roll up your sleeves, and do it again, only better — step up even more, and make yourself a better writer. Spoiler: I’m choosing the second option. This book shows you exactly what is possible with words; creates a vertigo-inducing ontological shift: you never knew literature could be this pulse-quickeningly, heart-poundingly, world-shatteringly fantastic.
It makes you fall in love with words, with writing, all over again, even more than before. It pulls you in just as the moon drags the wolf through the blood of the human and pulls it out, snarling and wild and alive, seeing the world in a million glinting details you never noticed before. It shatters and rebuilds your perceptual world. It’s exhilarating in its transformative power.
It’s f**king good.
P.S. please also visit the book’s website, www.thelastwerewolf.org, which is a brilliant example of how to promote a book in a rich, multi-dimensional way.