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Review - Hemlock

Thursday, June 21, 2012
Hemlock (Hemlock #1)
by Kathleen Peacock

Publication: May 8, 2012
Pages: 416
Author: Website | Facebook | Twitter
Publisher: Katherine Tegan Books
Buy it: Amazon | KindleB&N | Book Depository

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.

Hemlock is unique both as a paranormal read and in the writing. This is different from other werewolf stories in that it has become an epidemic. Werewolves may be the hunter, but the majority don't want to be a werewolf. They are ostrichized and hunted. Many other books may include a werewolf who wants to be a normal guy, but this book is darker than most. It is clear that there is nothing romantic about being a werewolf or falling in love with one. And especially not being killed by one.

The writing is beautiful and descriptive. Hemlock is a thick book and rather intimidating when you tackle a large pile of books to review after having lost a month due to exams and illness. However, I never felt overwhelmed while reading it. I received an ARC, so there were some rough transitions; for the most part, I was completely sucked into Mac's world. The pacing was spot on. It was slow and riddled with tension when there was danger lurking nearby; it was fast and heart-pounding when there was an attack; and my heart stopped with Mac's when she received a shock. It takes something for me to feel so close to the narrator that I feel like I'm there with her. I never knew what to expect next. There are so many plot twists that I didn't see coming that when I was able to guess something, it felt new and special when it did happen because I didn't know what would happen next.

Mac is one of my favorite heroines of the year. She has strong emotions that she normally hides under a cautiously reserved exterior, afraid of showing the people close to her how much she cares about them. She looks after Jason out of duty for the boyfriend that Amy left behind, but the one she is really interested in is her close friend Kyle, though she insists that they're "only friends." This has been called a love triangle, but I wouldn't call it one when the girl knows who she wants. Mac is someone with whom I can easily relate, despite never having been put in a similar predicament. Having Amy's ghost haunt her dreams was a nice touch. We get to know Amy, who would have otherwise remained a name and a body to us readers, and we know just how guilty Mac feels. The nightmares also help set the plot in motion, as they are one reason that compels Mac to look into Amy's murder.

What really pulls this story together and makes it more than another paranormal romance is the world building. As I mentioned before, Hemlock is dark, much darker than other paranormal books out there. There is cold-blooded murder and politics involved. Werewolves are given harsh treatment even if they mean no harm to humans, resulting in a controversial issue with people taking side: there are those who want a more peaceful approach to werewolves, and there are those who want extreme measures to be taken against them. When the werewolf situation in the town of Hemlock takes a turn for the worse, people must choose sides, and Mac learns more about her friends than she may have wanted to know.

Hemlock explores how change, both good and bad, affects people and what it means to care about someone; it explores different reactions to getting infected and asks if is always possible to see past the exterior and remember who someone is on the inside. Each character has his or her own story to tell. It's a bit weird, but I felt like a proud mama watching the characters grow and take the initiative. I am intrigued by where this story is going and am definitely interested in learning more about the werewolves and ongoing politics on the topic, though I have mixed feelings about Mac's decision at the end, as I hadn't thought of her as one of those girls who'll follow her love to the end of the world. Nevertheless, she is following her heart, and I do want to see her fulfill her mission.

Disclaimer: I received an ARC of this book from the publisher. No payment was received in return for a review. The receipt of the book had no influence on the opinions expressed in my review.
9 comments on "Review - Hemlock"
  1. Wasn't Mac awesomesauce! I love her! I loved this whole book it's one of my favorites of the year. It was just so different for a genre that is everywhere! So happy you enjoyed it too, Kris!

    1. She is! Yeah, Hemlock is different and unique, and it shines in a popular genre. I loved it!

  2. Wonderful review! So excited to start this one. Everyone seems to agree that it's crazy unique and beautiful in a darker sort of way. It looks absolutely fantastic. :D

    1. Thanks, Lexie. It *is* an absolutely fantastic book. Enjoy!

  3. Just love werewolf stories. I keep seeing good things about this one. I'm interested in Mac now after your description of her. Thanks for the review.


    1. It's a wonderful novel with a unique take on werewolves. I think you'll enjoy it.

  4. I'm not a big fan of werewolf stories normally but I'm really intrigued by Hemlock. It sounds stronger than the average paranormal and I can't wait to read this one!

    1. It is. I'm a big paranormal reader, and this has been one of the best paranormal books of the year! Hope you enjoy it!

  5. great review!!! I have been dying to read this book!!


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