Lively YA+ horror story with unexpected twists! April 23, 2015

The reader is drawn in from the beginning. The first scene is full of fast-paced action and terror as a woman runs for her life, terrified she will get caught and killed by the hairy beasts that are following her through the trees. I love a story that has this much intensity at the start, gripping the reader before they have even begun, and Wherewolves certainly does that!

We are then later introduced to the characters of the class. It is clear early on that Doris and Jeffrey are teased quite a lot by their peers. They are viewed as the class geeks, making them a target for nasty comments and pranks. Their parents and teacher, Sergeant Tim O’Sullivan, make matters even worse for the two as they are pressured into taking part on a survival trip that neither want to go on. This would leave them being surrounded by a whole class of taunters, and who knows how far they’ll go!

Jeffrey and Doris are not the only two to stand out from the rest. Elie is also recognised as different due to his Arabic roots and does receive some racist comments. Some of the main characters take it upon themselves to ensure that Elie doesn’t make it to the trip. The dialogue, jokes, mockery and bullying are certainly areas that anyone who has experienced High School will empathise with, and the strength of the modern-day dialogue will connect young and new adult readers (I would recommend 15ys+).

Once on their camping trip for their survival weekend the story begins to twist. The plot is unpredictable and doesn’t work out quite the way as expected. Is it a paranormal, or is it a teenage horror? Or both? There is the suspicion of the super-human reaction, brought on by a new drug, that has been mentioned on the news not too far from where the group are camping that may explain what is going on. But then again, amid the hills and trees, who knows what lurks about in the darkness just waiting for it’s next kill! Or, could it be that Elie has been pushed too far and decided to retaliate?

As one by one the class students are being killed the tension escalates to a higher level. The reader will have to keep on reading to find out what is happening, and who or what is being so savage. With so many class students to remember I did get a little lost keeping track of some of them as they disperse and run from these terrible beasts. This would be easier to follow if watching the screenplay and visualising them on stage or on screen.

I also felt that when reading the dialogue between the students early on it was very much like reading a script, albeit with a little more description. As a book this made the reader wait a little too long before the action really began to start up again. However, as a screenplay and watching it on stage I would imagine the atmosphere to be electric. The book may benefit in parts to a little more description and atmosphere building to create a more fluid read and even more tension.

That said, the authors do get their message across very clearly. Whilst there may be dangers out there in the world, we are a danger to ourselves. The way in which we treat each other, hold grudges, taunt and attack is sometimes the biggest beast of them all. Wherewolves shows how a group of people, some of whom can’t stand each other, can pull together during times of trouble in order to survive. And a message to the younger reader in particular is to not mistreat others. You never know who the bigger beast will be eventually, and you may need to pull together to beat an even bigger one!

Wherewolves is a lively story throughout, whether it be from the taunting and jeering between the students, or the action and horror. As it draws to an end you can really see the brilliance as everything comes together, and even areas that haven’t been explained earlier are covered later on. It is well worth the read, and I would imagine it would be fantastic to watch!

A copy of Wherewolves was provided by the author, Olga Montes, in return for a fair and honest review.

By Caroline Barker for A Reader’s Review Blog

Wherewolves Review: I loved it !!!!

First of all I want to say I really enjoyed this book. I have been working crazy all over the place shifts these past few weeks so my breaks and what little free time I have at home lately saw my eyes pointed and fixed upon my e-readers screen. This was a great YA read filled with teenaged angst, sexual tension, suspense, thrills, and chills a little for everybody. This book was adapted from a screen play and at times you can definitely tell that. I could almost see the stage directions in my minds eye (that could have been 4 years of loving drama class but who knows) I was engaged and invested from the first paragraph, this book has a lot of action throughout, peppered in with a touch of back story. I wasn’t all surprised about who the Wherewolves where when they appeared but I was interested in how they knew how to make the transformation happen. I won’t elaborate cause I don’t want to spoil it, for anyone who wants to pick up this read but the last few pages had me at a wtf just happened here moment, and like I said I loved it !!!! I could totally see this being a series and one that I would be happy to pick up and continue on with.

Kathy Kozak

5.0 out of 5 stars A ‘beastial’ adrenalin rush for the mind & body

Wherewolves is a powerful tale of menace and social commentary, with dark humor and clever plotting that keeps the reader knotted in its tight spiral of teen angst mixed with horror film imagery. On the surface it is a teen-in-peril tale, but the writing of the characters, the nature of the peril, and the narrative twists makes it surprising, exciting, and inventive. Characters jump off the page as vivid personifications of troubled teens caught between hormonal change, vice-like parental pressure, and the possibility of chemically induced monsters lurking in the proverbial woods. The best horror stories leave the reader with palpable frissons; this is always the ultimate aim of a good horror story: to strike uncertainty and fear in the reader; but many of these best examples also use the monster to reflect a subtext of social, cultural or political allegory. Wherewolves scores points on both these levels by appeasing the demands of a good horror story (with a bloody finale that is not for the squeamish) but also layering the `monster’ (as a metaphorical `beast within’) to bear the weight of social commentary on a wide range of themes: the deadly consequences of drug use; the dangers of unchecked military psychological & physiological training; the burdensome pressures of unrealistic parental expectation and lack of parental guidance. Wherewolves is a novel that rewards multiple readings, with elements of its plot twists embedded in descriptive details and foreshadowed through dialogue and narrational point of view. The story begins with a bang, in medias res, chaos in the woods, a prey and a victim. The young woman, Dilly is being chased through the woods by something feral, monstrous, dangerous, and animal-like. Like Sally from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, she is rescued by a truck driver, Drew, who battles with her against the unseen force. Once nearing safety, the state troopers arrive on the scene to help Drew and Dilly, but mysteriously, Dilly has disappeared….only to return much later as a key character. Here we see one of the strengths of the writing: the play with appearance and reality, as characters and situations, including the ultimate nature of the beast, end up not being what they appear. Here Dilly appears as a victim, chased by the `monster,’ but with the gain of hindsight, is anything but a victim. The lightning paced opening ends with the force of a blunt object: Drew and the troopers arrive at a diner, where chaos seems to be brewing on the inside; the outside of the diner window covered by the inside shades and thickly splattered blood. A crowd of media and police gather outside, plotting the best way to enter the troubled diner. And then we are left to hang, as the story cuts back in time, methodically churning its way back to the beginning, to Dilly running, and eventually returning to the bloody mayhem inside the tragic diner, in classic A-B-A non-linear structure. At this point the novel spends the next chunk of story time developing the many young protagonists (you may want to write them down to keep track of whose who), and then the story shifts into nervy energy overload when it arrives at the ex-soldier teacher Tim O’Sullivan’s planned weekend survival retreat, designed to `toughen’ the kids up to be military `worthy’. Tim leaves the kids stranded to fend for themselves (as his Dad did to him years earlier) but instead of your usual survival agenda there is something mean, vicious and fascinatingly mysterious lurking in the woods, encircling the teens who themselves are becoming unstable. The reader learns of several twists concerning why Tim leaves and to where (without giving away much, he remains as a distanced observer of a scenario gone horribly wrong). What makes this a particularly inventive take on the werewolf lore is the nature of the beast. The writers manage to have their cake and eat it by offering us the violence and ferociousness of the traditional werewolf, but tinged with a realist edge that strives for social commentary with a lexicon of youthful argot that is a mix of street slang and made-up language, a la `Clockwork Orange’. Wherewolves is a novel to savor quickly the first time, and slowly the second.

PS: I started to read this as a Kindle version but then HAD to switch to the real thing, so bought a hard copy. With the old school nature of the story, and the many references and homages to 1970s & 1980s horror, it seemed like the right thing to do!