Reviewed by Melissa Bostaph
Written by Martin Millar
Published by Soft Skull Press
Granted, every genre book requires you suspend your disbelief to some extent but when, three pages in, one of the characters in Martin Millar’s Lonely Werewolf Girl exclaims “Prepare to die, cursed Enchantress” I cringed. There was no way I was going to make it through another 555 pages of this silly stuff…
On the surface, the story sounds fantastical and sort of groan worthy. Lonely Werewolf Girl is, primarily, the story of 18-year-old Khalix MacRinnalch. Khalix is the youngest daughter of the Thane, making her royalty among her clan of Scottish werewolves. But she’s been on the run in London since she attacked her father for banishing her lover Gawain and nearly killed him. Her oldest brother Sarapen wants to kill her to avenge the brutal assault. Her mother and brother Markus want to wrestle control of the clan from Sarapen. Her older sister Thrix wants nothing to do with her family. All she wants is to run her fashion house. She’s the aforementioned Enchantress, and it’s her close friend – a fire elemental named Queen Malveria – who’s threatening her life … over a pair of shoes. And that’s just the tip of the crazy iceberg.
There’s Daniel and Moonglow, the human university students who try and befriend the morose Khalix; Markus, who likes to wear women’s clothing; Beauty and Delicious, the crazy drunken cousins who want to be musicians but can’t remain sober enough to play; and Agrivex, Queen Malveria’s adopted ward who’s obsessed with clunky boots. And explaining this all to you sounds much like that first impression I got from Malveria’s laugh inducing opening line. It’s almost enough to sound like this book is worth skipping.
Trust me when I say, you’d be making a mistake if you do. The story is involved and theatrical, almost like a fantasy soap opera. The characters are all so endearingly well written. While I started off rolling my eyes, I ended up completely engrossed and glued to the page, unable to wait to see what happened next. Would Khalix and Gawain be happily reunited? Will icy Dominil be able to whip Beauty and Delicious into shape in time for their gig? Who will win the battle for the Thaneship… Markus or Sarapen? And will Queen Malveria have her fashion triumph over the loathsome Princess Kabachetka at Sorceress Livia’s 500th birthday celebration?
There’s a quote on the back of the book from Neil Gaiman about how he doesn’t get why Millar isn’t “as rich as Terry Pratchett, as famous as Douglas Adams”, and I can absolutely understand why he refers to those two authors. Millar’s writing style reminds me very much of them both, although with a touch of the gothic novel. It’s almost like “Dark Shadows” and Long Dark Tea-time of the Soul had a torrid affair and Lonely Werewolf Girl was the progeny of their bizarre union.
This book has everything you could want; great characters, exciting adventures, star-crossed loves, bloody battles between fierce werewolves, sex, drugs, rock and roll, intrigue, espionage, murder and a healthy dose of humor. It’s incredibly ambitious to try and encompass all of these things in one book, but Millar does it with style and flair. As I turned the last page, I found myself wishing the journey wasn’t coming to and end, and I’d be surprised if readers didn’t feel the same. Hopefully, we’ll get further tales of the MacRinnalch clan to satiate us. But until then, pick up Lonely Werewolf Girl and give in to the craziness.
4 1/2 out of 5
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