Aspen Times Weekly book reivew: ‘The Last Werewolf’

by Tristan Mahaffey on behalf of the Aspen Writers’ Foundation

“…I make no apology and ask no forgiveness. I’m a man. I’m a monster. A cocktail of contraries.”

Such are the musings of world-weary Jake Marlowe: millionaire, misanthrope, scotch aficionado, centenarian and ruthless werewolf. To Jake, his long life and the endless repetition of history has left him mordant and apathetic. His friend and familiar, Harley, cannot shake him from his torpor. Even when he informs Jake that his only other contemporary was just hunted and beheaded leaving him the last member of an ancient world mythology, Jake can only feel resignation to his circumstance. At the age of 200 with a 400-year lifespan, he is experiencing a profound mid-life crisis that he is unable to free himself of, shackled as he is to the Sisyphean pattern of a world as predictable as the moon and its phases.

His life story chronicled and in safe stewardship, Jake is ready to succumb to the werewolf hunters perennially pursuing him. And this would be fine, if it didn’t interfere with the intentions of the hunters in question: Grainer, the Hunt’s vendetta-fueled elite agent, who won’t be satisfied unless Jake suffers; and a group of vampires who, for reasons unknown, will stop at nothing to keep him alive.

With “The Last Werewolf,” author Glen Duncan gives us something we sorely lacked: a monster story for adults. It would be a mistake to confuse Duncan’s brainy, unapologetically graphic prose with any of the work of his contemporary monster novelists. Here there are real monsters, with no love triangles and sparkling undead to fanaticize the tween masses. The characters are shockingly violent and fraught with all of the more unpleasant characteristics of mankind. Yet through it all, the monsters remain ceaselessly likeable. So much so you might find yourself questioning the voracity of your own morals. As Duncan says, “The first horror is there’s horror. The second is you accommodate it.” And accommodate it I did! During a time saturated with vampire books, shows and movies, it is refreshing to have a book that not only places werewolves in the spotlight but threatens to dethrone their immortal counterparts. Here is a novel that will have you discarding our favorite (but overwrought) True Blood protagonists and their static storylines in favor of Duncan’s rich, enrapturing werewolf world.

The perfect autumnal read, pick up a copy and read it while the mood of October is still upon you. No book I can think of is better suited for a quiet moonlit night in front of the fireplace with a warm beverage, or as our lycanthropic friend would prefer, a few fingers’ worth of scotch.