Tallullah Rising. Glen Duncan

Finally the holidays have kicked in enough for me to want to read something non-work related and completely indulgent. Which is, after all, what reading should be about. I chose to renew my acquaintance with the werewolves and vampires in Glen Duncan's follow up to the wonderful 'Last Werewolf'. The story begins with Tallulah in one hell of a predicament, Jake is dead and she is due to have her baby any day now. She has taken herself off, with her familiar, Cloquet, to the Alaskan wilds. The full moon is on its way just to complicate things and then, it all happens. She gives birth to two babies/werewolves but the vampires have arrived to take the child they believe she is carrying ( the whole twin thing was as new to Tallulah as to them, thank goodness). They steal away with her boy and then she gives birth to a girl. There are several moments of chase, capture, escape and capture again but they do not become too predictable despite the pattern in retrospect. Duncan does not give the twi-hard vampire fans anything to see here. This is an adult novel that is as comfortable with its philosophical musings on life, death and otherness as it is dropping gouts of viscera and sex on its readers. That said, it certainly takes you on an adventure filled ride around the globe and there are enough plot twists to keep you not only interested, but highly involved.

It is not labelled horror/literature by reviewers without good reason. The writing is tight and controlled with many a literary reference and an intelligent backstory. It moves easily from modern London and America to a sort of James Bond with supernaturals but resists being trite for all that.

I will await the next one, it has been left with enough of a cliffhanger to be certain that one is forthcoming.

Fans of Justin Cronin's work would do well to read Duncan's writing too.



The Last Werewolf. Glen Duncan


This has been quietly waiting on my shelves for me to get around to it in between school novels, weighty tomes for my Masters and books that I promised students I would read. Finally, I got there. Jacob Marlowe is an urbane and intelligent voice and it was easy to listen to his story. He relates the tale of his life, flitting between the action at the moment (getting shot at by a WOCOP agent) and back to his beginnings (being ‘created’ by a werewolf running away from said WOCOP) and the intervening years; the sad tale of his first love, told as dispassionately as only a werewolf could. We begin Jacob’s tale near the end and this technique keeps the pace up. The plot has enough unseen twists to keep most genre fans happy and it differs from other supernatural tales in its style and voice, the aforementioned urbanity staying charming throughout, even when relating depraved debauchery. I did find the ending a bit disappointing in that I was able to guess much of it before it happened, a shame really as up until the last quarter I felt outwitted by the novel, which I like. However, having said that, I would still recommend it. The self awareness of the voice of Jacob was touching and sad at times, even while chronicling his own inability to maintain a moral focus. His ability to analyze his fate and embrace his own monstrosity was fascinating and oddly allowed me to sympathize with him.
This is definitely not for anyone enamoured of the Twilight genre. It remains strictly adults only and it’s gore and sex may put off some readers but for me it was an interesting exploration of the idea of survival and morality, relationships and modern life.