Hemlock by Kathleen Peacock
Reading Level: Young Adult
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Hardcover: 404 pages
Publisher: Harper Collins
Release date: May 8, 2012
Series: Hemlock #1
Source: Personal Shelf
Reviewed by: Stéphanie
Mackenzie and Amy were best friends. Until Amy was brutally murdered.
Since then, Mac’s life has been turned upside down. She is being haunted by Amy in her dreams, and an extremist group called the Trackers has come to Mac’s hometown of Hemlock to hunt down Amy’s killer: A white werewolf.
Lupine syndrome—also known as the werewolf virus—is on the rise across the country. Many of the infected try to hide their symptoms, but bloodlust is not easy to control.
Wanting desperately to put an end to her nightmares, Mac decides to investigate Amy’s murder herself. She discovers secrets lurking in the shadows of Hemlock, secrets about Amy’s boyfriend, Jason, her good pal Kyle, and especially her late best friend. Mac is thrown into a maelstrom of violence and betrayal that puts her life at risk.
Kathleen Peacock’s thrilling novel is the first in the Hemlock trilogy, a spellbinding urban fantasy series filled with provocative questions about prejudice, trust, lies, and love.
I loved, loved this cover when I first saw it. The colours are amazing and the title design is so captivating. And when I realized it was a book about werewolves, I knew I had to read it. I’ve been anticipating this book for a while now and as soon as I received it, I started reading it. And let me tell you, I was not disappointed with Kathleen Peacock’s debut novel.
The werewolf mythology is not new to the publishing world, but I admire the way Kathleen recreated the way we perceive werewolves. In her world, the Lupine Syndrome (LS) is what creates werewolves, after either being scratched or bitten by another werewolf. Nothing new there, but the mass panic and hysteria that ensues after everyone learns of the existence of LS is very original. It’s quite realistic the way the public in the book was quick to judge and more or less removed all human rights to those infected. Shipping them off to seclusion camps that apparently have horrible living conditions reminds me of the concentration camps of the second world war. Those with LS are always living with fear of being discovered, just like the Jews must have felt while they tried to live out their lives in hiding. Prejudice and animosity are very strong themes in this book and I applaud Kathleen for making it so realistic.
Mackenzie, or Mac, is the main character of HEMLOCK, and at the beginning of the novel, she was like any other teenager: scared about the werewolf murder spree that happened months ago and heartbroken about losing her best friend Amy to the killer. Even though Amy was murdered by a werewolf, she was not quick to judge and still believed not all werewolves were killers. She began to believed in equal rights, especially when she learnt that so many people surrounding her had been living with LS in secret. A strong female lead, Mac is not afraid to do what she believes is right, and fights for those she loves.
Branson Derby gave me the chills right from the start. His youth meetings and presence reminded me of cult leaders with their need to be followed and acknowledged. He controlled his followers by making them believe werewolves truly had no rights and that all of the infected were dangerous killers. He ruled his advocates through apprehension and brute strength and the fact that he was able to acquire the help of politicians and the local police made him a figure all werewolves feared. His goal to eradicate all werewolves made him a genocidal antagonist, and as a reader, it was very easy to both hate and fear him.
Kathleen Peacock created a wonderful alternate reality where everyone is aware of the werewolves and where Lupine Syndrome is feared as if it was a deadly disease. Not only is this book about prejudice and werewolves, it’s also about friendship, love, integrity and righteousness. Likable characters and delightful writing made this book a pleasant read. I trully believe this debut will be one of the YA novel to covet this spring/summer season. Young adults (especially members of Team Jacob) will love this book and will strongly anticipate the sequel. The ending promises another book full of intrigue and even more werewolves.