Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Lonely Werewolf Girl

This is one of those books that I kept hearing such great things about, but for some reason the library where I work didn't own any copies.  It sat on my list for a long time, and then I started reading all kinds of great things about the sequel, Curse of the Wolf Girl.

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."

14 comments:

  1. I am sooooo happy you liked this! I haven't read this particular one but I received the sequel for review and I adored it. It took a while to get into the groove of the story and remember all the characters, but I knew from the start that I want to get Lonely Werewolf Girl.

    And I like that you also mentioned that it's a story about a family who happen to be werewolves. Because it's NOT a werewolf book, it's a book about people who happen to be weres. I loved that about the book as well.

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  2. I knew you'd like this :D Curse of the Wolf Girl is just as much of a delight. You and Cat are spot on... there's really books about people.

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  3. Oh yes, isn't it nice when a book you've requested specially turns out to be popular! I love it. I had the same experience with Scott Pilgrim. Always feel a little relieved.

    This one, I will look for. Not sure we have a copy either, but I will have to find out.

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  4. I've got a book by Millar on my TBR pile (not this one; The Good Fairies of New York), and while everything I've heard from everybody suggests that I will totally love it, I for some reason keep putting it off. I suspect once I do read it, I'll immediately be out after this book, though. :)

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  5. Yay, glad you liked this! Some of Martin Millar's earlier books are less strong than this one, but they're all so sweet. And the sequel is wonderful and really good.

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  6. Cat - Wow, is unusual for you to read a sequel without reading the first book - I wonder what you'll think of this one? I hope you can get to it soon. :-) I agree about it not being a "werewolf book." The werewolf part is important, but there is so much more that would really appeal to readers who don't normally do supernatural fiction, so I'd hate to see them miss this one.

    Nymeth - All the best books are, really, aren't they? I'm so glad you enjoyed the sequel. We'll see how long I can hold out before I break down and read it. I like knowing that it's out there, waiting for me, you know?

    Kiirstin - Good call on Scott Pilgrim! I'm trying to get my library to buy his book Lost at Sea - I had to ILL it. I can't remember if you've read that one. I think you'd love it. And this one, too.

    Fyrefly - My library doesn't own Good Fairies...yet. I'll see what I can do about that! I will be looking forward to hearing your thoughts when you get around to it. If it's half as good as this one, you'll love it!

    Jenny - I'm excited about the sequel, and his other books as well. I will also be doing my best to spread the word about this author - I never would have heard of him if it hadn't been for the blog reviews!

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  7. Oh Darla my dear!!! I'm SO glad that you read this one and loved it :D God I still miss this book so much and it's characters. And I still think about it ALL the time! It's just one of my very favorite books and it sticks with you. Malveria has become one of my all time favorite characters in literature I think :p Wasn't she fabulous?

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  8. Chris - Oh, I adore Malveria! What wouldn't you give to be a fly on the wall during one of her shopping trips with Vex? Too, too, funny. Definitely a woman I'd want on my side. I am just so glad there is a sequel waiting for me, or I'd be totally depressed to say goodbye to everyone in that book. Thanks for your review that egged me on to read it!

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  9. Definitely read Lost at Sea and loved it so much I think it might still qualify as one of my favourite books of all time. Just perfect, really, in so many ways.

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  10. Kiirstin - I'm not surprised you loved Lost at Sea! What's not to love? I have put it on my wish list on Amazon - I think I really need to own it, to have it on my shelf so I can pick it up whenever I want. I rarely buy books these days, but I'll make an exception for this one!

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  11. I have had this out from the library a couple times and still haven't read it! I will have to try again this year because I know I am probably going to like it when I get around to it!

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  12. Kailana - I have the feeling that once you start this one, you'll be committed to quickly reading through to the end! I'll be interested to hear what you think of it - I'm predicting that you will enjoy it. :)

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  13. I really liked his take on fairies in New York and really must read this. Hopefully this year it'll make it to the top of the pile as the follow up sounds just as good.

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  14. Rhinoa - My library doesn't own Good Fairies - I guess I'll have to give them a nudge and see if it works as well as it did this time. I'll be interested to hear what you think when you get to this one. Most people seem to like it even better than Fairies!

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