Here be Dragons

Synopsis:

A young woman, Cheyenne Clark, is heli-hiking in an underpopulated area of the northern part of Canada, apparently looking for some traces of a strange animal. Although she is well prepared for such rough conditions still she gets lost, falls into a river and almost drowns. Half alive, with most of her possessions either destroyed or gone, she tries to find a shelter, not an easy thing in the Canadian wilderness. When the night falls the animal she was tracking finds her. And scratches her leg with its fangs.

From that point the life of Cheyenne changes dramatically – yes, she becomes a werewolf herself, no surprises here taking into account the title. Now she must face not only the werewolf who turned her against her will into a monster (well, he hasn’t planned that much either) and now wants to kill her for her own good but also her associates who hadn’t taken such a turn of events into account. Or perhaps they had. Anyway they are as dangerous to her as to her prey now, having some silver bullets at their disposal and a lot of experience under their belt…

What side will her boyfriend take – a man who has been actively hunting a werewolf half his life? What will Cheyenne do with her little furry problem- will she be able to accept her new, very limited life? Or maybe a silver bullet in the head will seem a far nicer solution?

What I liked:

Although I managed to cram the whole story into a very short synopsis it doesn’t mean that the book is short or simplistic. Quite the opposite in fact. And I enjoyed it immensely.

First of all the narration is full of surprises. Werewolf’s life was made a tad more difficult than usually in PNR books– here such a creature must change into a monster whenever the Moon rises, no matter what phase, so practically most of the nights. The characters’ stories are also a bit more complicated – no easy falling in love, plenty of problems, no slick solutions. As soon as you think you know everything there is to be known about the trio of main heroes: Cheyenne, her boyfriend, Bobby Fenech, and Montgomery Powell, the werewolf who turned Chey into a monster, the author adds some more info making you scratch your head and wonder. I did like it very much – scratching, thinking and reading :-).

The characters are well-rounded indeed and their actions – always psychologically viable and fully justified…of course when you get the whole picture. So no sooner than by the end of the book. I really sympathized with Cheyenne and Powell (but for different reasons) and even enjoyed a more rough, cruel and blood-dripping image of a werewolf. If you are (like yours truly) dead tired and bored stiff with those fluffy, pinky, cloying romances featuring unvaryingly handsome and well-muscled guys who just happen to have a bit more beast inside than an average human being but otherwise are simply loving and cuddly try this one. I am sure you will find it refreshingly scary.

I also liked the ending but I must mention there is a lot of violence in this one. Although the scenes are not overly graphic, they do sound real enough to make you cringe. It has a point, though, a very good point, showing that a monster is as monster does. Add to it some political background (like the real reason why the Canadian government were so interested in seeing all werewolves dead) and you get a surprisingly intricate and original story. One you would like to continue (yes, it is a series as far as I know).

What I didn’t like:

There was just one minor detail – I really couldn’t figure out what the role of Dzo was. If you haven’t read the book – Dzo is a magical entity, a musquash/muskrat spirit, looking like any human male (with some quirks but who doesn’t have them, after all) but being anything but human. First difference – he can hang out with shape-shifters without being considered by them a prey, even when they change their form. He follows Powell and helps him from time to time but we are not told why or to what end. Just because both are lonely? Secondly Dzo claims he has been living for not mere years or centuries but rather millenia – allegedly he saw Neandertals (yes, the author apparently believes in evolution) and Paleo-Indians, inhabiting Canada. Thirdly he is a vegetarian…but actually I am surprised he has to eat anything. He also can appear and disappear at will, having strong affiliation with running water. Perhaps after reading the second installment this character will be made clearer to me.

Final verdict:

Definitely a kind of paranormal story I like and appreciate: honest, perhaps a bit closer to some classic fairy tales about werewolves ( I really sometimes saw Chey as the Little Red Ridding Hood of a kind) but also gritty and real. I am really looking forward to the second part, entitled Overwinter!

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