Wednesday, October 27, 2010
A werewolf addicted to laudanum, a usurper for the throne, some high fashion, drunken pop stars and arm ripping with abandon. Seriously.
Martin Millar successfully returns to the world of werewolves, mayhem and fashion crises in Curse of the Wolf Girl, a sequel to his earlier title, Lonely Werewolf Girl. Readers must -- must -- read the books in order to have a clue what is going on, but with that caveat, you can sit back and enjoy the ongoing trials and tribulations of the MacRinnach werewolf clan with glee. There is also a lot here about remedial college, comic books, opera, pop music, and how to get your fashion line reviewed by very popular couture bloggers. That all these disparate storylines are cohesively held together is something any writer would find difficult to accomplish, but Millar does it, and he provides a very powerful narrative that never strays from its thriller roots.
And guys don’t let the fashion bits scare you -- this is a werewolf story where people get their arms torn off with abandon, promise.
Wolf Girl takes up soon after the events of the previous title. The MacRinnach clan is now led by surviving son Markus, who is happy to assume the mantle of werewolf leadership, but struggling to find a woman who understands his predilection for occasionally dressing in female clothing. His younger sister, 17-year-old Kalix, is living in London with her human friends as well as Fire Elemental Vex, who is the bubbliest teenage girl imaginable, if you accept that she is not human. Vex is well on her way to being adopted by Queen Malveria and thus become heir to a Fire Elemental throne -- which currently has no other heirs (a bone of contention among Malveria’s court). The queen is not too worried about heirs, as she would rather busy herself with matters of fashion, a subject her friend Thrix is only too happy to endlessly discuss with her. Thrix, sister to Markus and Kalix, is hoping to become a famous designer, and wishes that MacRinnach clan politics would leave her alone so she could focus on what really matters -- her business. Cousin Dominil becomes concerned about the increasingly bold activities of werewolf hunters in London and turns to Thrix, who is not only a werewolf but also wields some powerful magical ability, to fight back. Thrix isn’t so sure this is a good idea, but Markus is, unofficially, all for it. Dominil, desperate to have something to do that doesn’t involve monitoring alcoholic ninny werewolf cousins Butix and Delix and their pop band (think Paris Hilton, and you have these two pegged) is all too happy to go to war and just start killing the hunters. (Dominil has a few anger issues - but that's kind of a good thing for a werewolf.) Soon enough there is an unexpected werewolf casualty, and everything then blows up -- in a big way.
Oh -- plus, there are werewolves seeking revenge for the events in the last book; Malveria’s hold on her throne is under serious threat; and a lot of action is propelled by the desire of many people for a certain pair of high fashion boots -- and how preoccupied you can become about obtaining them. And Kalix and Dominil are both addicted to laudanum. And Kaylix and Vex are going to get cutoff financially if they don’t do well in school, which is way easier said then done. And then there’s Decembrius who is a werewolf who gets visions and likes Kaylix. And there’s a comic book and Hello Kitty and the opera.
Basically we are talking the biggest pop culture/horror mash-up imaginable. With werewolves who actually kill when they aren't arguing with each other. (Don't even think about making a Jacob/Twilight comparison to this book. I refuse to allow such heresy.)
So what happens? The point of view changes many times, the plot threads come fast and furious, and yet very carefully everything converges at once. It is funny as hell, smart and snappy, pushy and bold in all the right ways, and downright outlandish. Yet this is also a sweet title about friendship, a romantic comedy in more ways then one, and it’s about an incredibly dysfunctional family that nonetheless tries to pull it together. Plus there are bad guys with silver bullets and there are encounters with tooth and claw and there are moments -- more than one -- where Kaylix or Dominil or or kick some full on major ass. We’re talking girl power in a serious way -- not silly,stupid whiny crap but hardcore-serious, kill-you-dead-for-trying-to-kill-me, kind of way. Plus the guys don’t do half bad either. Fun, that’s what Curse of the Wolf Girl is, major, major fun. I just enjoyed the hell out of this book and I think you would too.
Cross posted (with some changes) from my October Bookslut column.