I still hadn’t fully absorbed the terrible possibility that I might actually be a werewolf. I kept stumbling over that word; it made no sense to me. How could I be a werewolf? Werewolves didn’t exist.
When Tobias Richard Vandevelde wakes up in a hospital with no memory of the night before, his horrified mother tells him that he was found unconscious. At Featherdale Wildlife Park. In a dingo pen. He assumes that his two best friends are somehow responsible, until the mysterious Reuben turns up, claiming that Toby has a rare and dangerous “condition.” Next thing he knows, Toby finds himself involved with a strange bunch of sickly insomniacs who seem convinced that he needs their help. It’s not until he’s kidnapped and imprisoned that he starts to believe them—and to understand what being a paranormal monster really means.
Catherine Jinks creates a supernatural world that is more realistic than fantastic. Our thirteen year old narrator Toby relates to us that being a werewolf is impossible for the first half of the novel, and in the second half, despite not going under any transformations, he gets tied up in the negative side of werewolves: exploitation.
While he takes the first half of the book to believe his symptoms prove him a werewolf, and not an epileptic; after the paper makes him famous for being found naked in a dingo pen, due to his newfound notoriety he is surrounded by people convinced he is a werewolf. A supernatural group wants to protect him from his next transformation, and a group of “doggers” capture him to dog fight other kidnapped werewolves, potentially shipping him to America.
Making Toby 13 was a great choice for this book. He and his friends are initially excited by the pranks possible by teasing the people claiming he’s supernatural, and then what his powers might give him. We have 200 pages of Toby suspecting Reuben might be right, but that he’d rather trick the man, and turn him into the police. When Toby is kidnapped, he quickly accepts his condition, and sees Reuben in a different light.
The last 50 pages felt a little rushed, and the dramatic reveal seemed ridiculously fast. The foreshadowing was there, but between Toby’s mother’s disbelief and Toby’s quick acceptance, it felt a little disjointed. I believe if I’d read the prequel, The Reformed Vampire Support Group, the rapid appearance of new and returning characters would have felt more natural.
I recommend this to anyone who enjoys Heather Brewer’s Chronicles of Vladimir Tod, or other stories of non-glamorous supernaturals.
e-book ARC provided by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt