Publication: May 2012 from HarperCollins
Rating: 5 ♥ / 5 ♥ – I loved it!
Mackenzie and Amy were best friends. Until Amy was brutally murdered.
Since then, Mac’s life has been turned upside down. Not only is she being haunted by Amy in her dreams, an extremist group called the Trackers has come to Mac’s hometown of Hemlock to hunt down Amy’s suspected 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 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.
It’s no secret that paranormal and dystopia are my genre of choice when it comes to books. But that means I read of lot of them, and it can be hard to find that really unique take on a story that makes you clutch the book in your hands and not let go until you’ve turned the last page and wish like crazy that the sequel was out now. Hemlock by Kathleen Peacock is just such a book – it’s brilliant.
Most important factor in my love for Hemlock is Kathleen’s werewolves. Lupine syndrome is public knowledge, and werewolves could be anywhere. They can shift at will, though they are often slave to strong emotions if they don’t have good control. And their change is rough, body changing and bones moving around. It’s not seamless or instant, and Kathleen’s werewolves can be just as normal as you or I, only they can go furry, or they can succumb to bloodlust and be the scariest thing around. The backstory and off screen story that is hinted at throughout the book is really intriguing. Anyone with lupine syndrome that is identified is sent to a camp where they live in horrible conditions, and the group calling themselves the Trackers hunt down those with the syndrome to send to camps. The werewolves don’t always survive the encounter, though. It’s a huge political set up, and Kathleen only hints at the bigger picture going on outside of the town of Hemlock, where the main character Mac has had her world changed due to werewolves.
Mac is so strong. Her best friend Amy is murdered, Amy’s boyfriend Jason is spiraling out of control, and Kyle’s suddenly looking to be not just a friend anymore, but possibly a boyfriend. Secrets are rampant in this group, and just when you think you may have it figured out, there are nice little twists and turns to keep it all anxious and nail-biting until the end. It’s done in a way where you think you figure it out, then something happens to change your mind, and then you realize you were right after all. Mac gets put through a lot of stuff over the course of Hemlock, but she pulls through it. Like any teenager some of her decisions are a bit rash and may not be the best, but she’s confident and determined to find who killed Amy. She’s up against a lot of opposition and the bad guys are truly bad guys – they made me cringe and fear for Mac, Kyle and Jason. Oh, and Kyle…so much love! Jason grew on me, and honestly, I wanted to smack both of them at different times and tell them to smarten up! I’m surprised Mac didn’t.
Hemlock is a book I had been waiting for since since July of 2010 and it so lived up to my expectations. Engaging writing that pulls you into Mac’s world completely, characters that you can relate with – be happy, sad and terrified with – and some great backstory that has me wishing for book two all combine to make it so that Hemlock is a must to read in one sitting, late into the night when your eyes are blurring but you just can’t put it down.
ARC received from HarperCollins as part of a blog tour in exchange for my honest review. Thank you!