Mackenzie and Amy were best friends. Until Amy was brutally murdered.
Since then, Mac’s life has been turned upside down. She is being haunted by Amy in her dreams, and an extremist group called the Trackers has come to Mac’s hometown of Hemlock to hunt down Amy’s killer: A white werewolf.
Lupine syndrome—also known as the werewolf virus—is on the rise across the country. Many of the infected try to hide their symptoms, but bloodlust is not easy to control.
Wanting desperately to put an end to her nightmares, Mac decides to investigate Amy’s murder herself. She discovers secrets lurking in the shadows of Hemlock, secrets about Amy’s boyfriend, Jason, her good pal Kyle, and especially her late best friend. Mac is thrown into a maelstrom of violence and betrayal that puts her life at risk.
Kathleen Peacock’s thrilling novel is the first in the Hemlock trilogy, a spellbinding urban fantasy series filled with provocative questions about prejudice, trust, lies, and love.
Hemlock has many strengths but one of the most fascinating aspects of it is the atmosphere that infuses the narrative intermittently and fragments the novel in a way that, instead of making the novel choppy, makes it flow smoother. Peacock’s imagery is very strong but there is subtlety to it that I liked very much. This subtlety is most apparent in scenes when Mackenzie is conversing with Amy in one of her dreams. The stillness of the setting coupled with the Amy’s ghostly visage that has a mixture of cruelty and vulnerability to it is superbly transmitted through Peacock’s writing.
Moving into the review proper, let me discuss the aspects of the novel itself. Even though it is constructed as a paranormal romance, at the heart of it, the novel is a whodunit. A crime story that has a reveal that I, for once, did not predict. Mackenzie is an easy protagonist to empathize with. Her fierceness where her friends are concerned sound sincere and work in her favour. There is a love triangle but for once, I did not have much trouble working with it as Mac does not lead on one of the guys. This is not to imply that there is no ambiguity in her feelings in the beginning because there is but for the most part, Mac’s romantic feelings are very clear and I appreciated that.
That said, there were still some issues that I had with the novel. The first was that the mythology, the werewolf-ery is not very well explored. That might be because Peacock is saving that for the next book (which very well might be the case) but I would have liked a lot more information on what being a werewolf entails. The other is the presence of the multiple Mean Girls. I wish authors would realize that perpetuating this mean girl trope works to create divides in girls and while I’m not from the school of naïve thought that teaches all girls share a common sisterhood, I do believe that the portrayal of such characters lead to normalizing them. So yeah, no bueno.
These issues aside, I really did enjoy the novel. I thought it was well constructed, paced and characterized. The trackers were frightening and gave a glimpse to the depths humanity can sink to defend itself. I recommend this to anyone who likes a good murder mystery populated by werewolves, crazy people and spunky heroines.