Release: May 8, 2012
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.
Kathleen Peacock gives us a fun and exciting werewolf tale complete with a likable heroine and an appealing love triangle.
Hemlock begins with the funeral of Amy Walsh, daughter of a U.S. Senator and one of several victims in a string of werewolf attacks in the town of Hemlock. Fast forward five months, and we enter chapter one in the mind of Amy's best friend, Mac. The story is told from her point of view, as she and other friends of Amy's continue to try and heal after her death. After some new attacks from what might be the same werewolf that killed Amy and the others, Mac decides to do some snooping to try and solve the crimes and find the person responsible.
As YA plots go, its a pretty standard one, however it doesn't seem like werewolves have been that prevalent in YA lately. As someone who is a fan of shifters (duh, see blog name...) I was pretty excited to get some werewolf action mixed in with my YA. Mac is a pretty good heroine, not annoying and whiny, and she seems to make good decisions. She's had a tough upbringing - no mom, wayward father ran off, and lives with her twenty-something cousin. One might even expect her to be more screwed up than she is, especially since she has nightmares about Amy's death almost every night, but all in all Mac has a pretty good head on her shoulders. She does have an issue with letting people get too close to her, especially guys. Enter one really great love triangle.
In one corner we have Kyle, the slightly emo, always been her best best friend, never thought of her as an actual girl type. He and Mac have a great friendship and even though its obvious to us that there is something there, the two numskulls take quite a while to figure it out themselves. In fact, they only really start growing closer after the revelation of a big secret Kyle has been holding onto. I love the secret he reveals and I thought it added more to his character. He is the obvious better choice for Mac, despite one minor detail
In the other corner we have Jason, totally messed up bad boy from a rich and entitled family, and he was Amy's boyfriend before she died. Mac continues to help him out when he needs it and sees the good in him that no one else does, but he doesn't exactly make it easy. Jason has decided to join the dangerous Trackers, a group of well-organized, militant types who are trained to hunt (and kill) werewolves. More on them later. Mac and Jason are at odds about this choice and Jason's decisions throughout the story are seriously less than stellar. Of course I'm rooting for him...didn't I mention he's the bad boy?
Now, more on those Trackers. People who are infected with Lupine Syndrome are supposed to report themselves to the government, who then haul them off to live the remainder of their life in an internment camp. You contract Lupine Syndrome by being bitten or scratched by a werewolf in wolf form. Those who don't report themselves are hunted by the Trackers. They are brusque, brutal, and hate werewolves (think the KKK, but after people with Lupine Syndrome).
I wish there was a little more info about the werewolves themselves, more background and world building where they are involved. There wasn't really a lot of that, and I had some questions about what they could and could not do that were left unanswered. That extra information could have really bumped this one up to five stars. There were some twists and turns that I actually didn't see coming, and there were secrets being revealed about each character nonstop! At one point in the story Mac is convinced she doesn't really know anyone in her town. This was one of my favorite aspects of the plot. That, and the fact that the identity of the "bad guy" totally caught me by surprise! The ending was also left wide open and I'm hungrily awaiting the sequel!
Recommended for: fans of YA love triangles, werewolves, well-written characters, surprises, and cleverly named streets.