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.
Luckily, I ended up enjoying the werewolf aspects of this novel quite a lot… perhaps more than any other werewolf novel I’ve read. Definitely enough that I’m excited to continue with the next installment and maybe enough that I’ll give some other werewolf books a chance.
In Hemlock, werewolves are public knowledge… and most of the public isn’t a fan. The disease that afflicts those who shift into wolves is known as lupine syndrome and is remarkably easy to spread. In a supposed effort to slow and eliminate the spread of the disease, those infected are sent to camps reminiscent of internment camps. The public, and the reader, are only given a vague impression of what goes on in these camps, but I’m hoping that this idea will be further explored in the second book.
The novel centers on Mackenzie, a girl dealing with her best friend’s murder by a werewolf. Amy’s death was one of four among a series of attacks and the person, or wolf, behind the gruesome murders is still free. Mac can’t stop dreaming about Amy and believes the only way to stop her from haunting her sleep is to find out what happened the night her boyfriend found her torn apart in an alley. It doesn’t take long for Mac to discover that people – and werewolves – are not at all what they seem…
Add to the mix that Amy is the daughter of a Senator. Making what might have been a small story into a media frenzy… especially when the Senator, a previous supporter of werewolf rights, completely reverses his stance, going so far as to invite an extremist group known as Trackers into the small town of Hemlock. The Trackers are there under the guise of looking into Amy’s death… and crack down on local werewolves. The law stands aside as the Trackers overwhelm Hemlock, recruiting local teens and going to whatever means necessary to root out those hiding their abilities. It doesn’t take long for Jason, one of Mac’s best friends, Amy’s boyfriend – and the one that found her dead – is lured in by the extremist group by the idea of violent retribution.
Though I thoroughly enjoyed the paranormal parts of this novel, there were some other aspects that seemed forced to me. As much as it pains me to say it, I wasn’t invested in Hemlock’s romantic plot lines. The love interests were all right, but neither really popped for me. I really liked them as characters and can’t wait to see how they develop in subsequent novels, but I couldn’t bring myself to care who Mac ended up. I’m very hopeful that I’ll see some kind of spark or more chemistry in the next book, but, as of right now, I was a bit bored every time there was a romance related scene. I just wanted to learn more about the werewolves and the murders and skip the love scenes.
Despite the fact that the romance missed the mark for me, I really did enjoy Hemlock. The mystery was intense, the paranormal aspects well developed, and discussion of how the public was handling (or not handling) the spread of lupine syndrome was extremely interesting. It appears there will be a change of scenery for book two, and, I won’t lie, I wish I had it in my hands right now!