Tuesday, January 11, 2011
Exasperated that we still had no copies, I finally sent in a suggestion that we purchase it, which I don't do as often as I used to because these days I am typically told no, we no longer have the budget. But in this case my library came through. We only ordered a few copies for our many branches, but at least we have some now! And when my copy came in and I saw the blurb from Neil Gaiman on the cover that said, "I [don't] understand why Martin Millar isn't as celebrated as Kurt Vonnegut, as rich as Terry Pratchett, as famous as Douglas Adams. I've been a fan of his work for almost twenty years," I was doubly glad that collection management had agreed to purchase it. I felt vindicated when I checked on the books (I get a proprietary feeling about the ones I suggest we buy) and saw that not only was every copy checked out, but there was also a waiting list!
I admit I was a little surprised when I saw what a chunkster this book is - it's over 550 pages! But I have to say, the closer I drew to the end of the novel, the longer I wished it could be. It's that good.
I hesitate to say too much, because it is best to let this one unfold and pull you in all on its own. It is about a huge Scottish family who happen to be werewolves. The fact that they are werewolves is intrinsic to the plot, but it is just one aspect of the book. Fantasy lovers will enjoy this supernatural element, to be sure - but even those who typically read and enjoy more realistic fiction will be pulled into this amazing story as well, because it involves so very much more - family dynamics, friendship, coming of age, politics, music - all told with such compassion and humor.
The central figure is Kalix, a teenage werewolf from a seriously dysfunctional family. She is on the run from them, having committed a crime (and while it is never spelled out why she did what she did, it becomes fairly obvious and makes the reader feel even more compassion for her, particularly in the beginning when she is not terribly likable). She is hiding in London, with a price on her head, but it is difficult for her to bring herself to care very much, as she suffers from a debilitating depression. When all seems lost for her, she is helped by two unsuspecting humans, Moonglow and Daniel, who rescue her and then become involved in her life - which puts their own in peril - not to mention turning the lives of everyone involved upside down in various amusing ways.
The plot grows complex and involves many diverging storylines, each featuring characters who are interesting and funny. These storylines are skillfully woven together to tell a riveting, at times heartbreaking, at times hilarious tale. The characters are quirky and odd, but always so very human and real. I was so sad when this book ended - as satisfying as the conclusion was - and I am very much looking forward to reading the sequel - as well as everything else this man has ever written. I highly recommend this one - tight writing, excellent pacing, amazing characters, and a storyline that will surprise and delight.
Lonely Werewolf Girl by Martin Millar (Soft Skull Press, 2007)
Also reviewed at:
Jenny's Books: " Martin Millar is a delight. I want to give Martin Millar a hug because his books please me so much."
Stuff as Dreams: " I could just spend days talking about all of the other wonderful characters in this book. All of the different connections, all of the different storylines being told."
Things Mean a Lot: "...despite its length, I was incredibly sad when I finished it, simply because I wanted to keep on reading it indefinitely. I miss the characters terribly already. This is a book I know I’ll return to again and again."