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The boy’s grandfather had always told him family tales of werewolves and the boy initially thought that the old man’s age meant that he was talking in metaphor. Unfortunately, for the boy, the grandfather told the truth and following the death of the grandfather the boy finds himself, on the run, one step ahead of their deeds, wondering which world will claim him...
Mongrels (2016. 297 pages) is a coming of age werewolf novel by Stephen Graham Jones.
It may be an oddity limited to myself, but I found the book very distant, the central narrator a little removed and therefore difficult to empathise with. One part of this comes from the way that the narrator accepts that they may turn into a werewolf as a very matter of fact event, there are some element of anticipation, of willing the change to take place.
Secondly, I quickly realised that the narrator isn’t named, except at one point and your pretty sure the name is a cover. I think not having a name to link to meant that the narrator remained fairly unknowable. For these reasons I found it hard to engage with the book and ultimately cared little for the fates of many of the characters.
Certainly the book is well written and it’s a bold experiment to show what it is like to actually live with a future as yet unset. The narrator has no better idea than does his aunt Libby or uncle Darren whether they will transform and so have to live their lives, always on the run, one step ahead, as a werewolf or if they will have to turn their back on their only family to make a life amongst the humans.
The book does go into great detail into how you would survive as a werewolf in the deep south of the USA; while the detail is appreciated it does remove some of the magic and mystery, replacing it with the mundane.
It’s not a particularly scary book, but it is visceral in its descriptions of death, and there are many of those as the body count builds up. The strength of the book lay in its description of what it is too live as an outsider in a hostile environment.