The Last Werewolf
by Glen Duncan
Review by Gayle Surrette
Knopf Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780307595089
Date: 12 July 2011 List Price $25.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK
The Last Werewolf by Glen Duncan begins just as Jake Marlowe is taking a call from his friend and spy in WOCOP (World Organization for the Control of Occult Phenomena), Harley, telling him that, "It's official. They killed the Berliner two nights ago. You're the last. I'm sorry."
Jake is the last werewolf. Not the last in England. Not the last in Europe. He's the last in the world. He's the only one that WOCOP hasn't killed yet. Jake's 200 years old and ready to die. He knows that they'll wait until the full moon to kill him, they want him in monster form.
Duncan has taken the myth of the werewolf and tweaked it here and there. They only change one night a month. However, they can't lock themselves into a room and keep from killing because the curse or disease or whatever it is wants them to kill. When they do kill and eat their victim, part of the victim remains with them as bits of memory -- Jake has a chorus of his victims with him at all times.
This world also has vampires but they're pretty much the petty, behind the scenes manipulators that you'd expect. They exist because WOCOP made a deal. They police themselves and keep their population down and they get to live.
Told from Jake's point of view, you learn that he's educated and a bit of philosopher, but that doesn't stop him from being a character that you'd be hard pressed to like. Jake's a monster and he knows it and he plays to that as often as he can because it distances himself from what he is. He's managed his life to keep everyone at bay except Harley and that was a mistake.
Jake's been writing in his diaries and storing them. He figures he'll bring them up to date before he's killed and then maybe someday they'll be published. It seems that things are going to be fairly straight forward. Jake tells us his story. WOCOP kills him and we close the book on the last werewolf. But where would be the story in that? As interesting as it is listening to Jake talk about his life and its hardships and whinging on about living too long and being tired of life it wouldn't be enough to keep us going for three hundred pages.
Duncan throws in a few curveballs -- some you'd expect and some you wouldn't. What's WOCOP going to do with all those operatives when Jake's dead? Why hasn't there been a new werewolf in the last 100 years? Why has no werewolf that Jake has ever talked to ever seen a female werewolf? Do they exist? How can he protect Harley? And why do the vampires want to kidnap him?
There's enough twists and turns that it kept me reading even through the kinky sex scenes, though I did tend to flip through them after the first few. There's only so many things you can do and it gets boring after a while -- I prefer the fade to a fireplace and get on with the plot approach.
The book came out in July and has had a lot of buzz that, based on my reading of The Last Werewolf, is well deserved. It explores the ramifications of becoming a monster for one night a month and what it does to you emotionally, physically, and mentally. An amazing twist on a common fantasy trope.