Do you ever find yourself, when watching TV or reading a book, rooting for the bad guy? Magneto from the X-men? Draco Malfoy in Harry Potter? The Joker from Batman? If you’re anything like me, the answer is a resounding ‘yes!’ on some days, and a shameful ‘maayyybe’ on others. I just want to know what would happen if the bad guy got everything he wanted – world domination, his nemesis’ head on a pike, the eradication of all Muggles, etc. I want to know how the main characters (the good guys) would react to this. Would they keep fighting the good fight, or give up? Call it a perversity, or simply a creative way of wanting to prolong the series I love, but the bad guys and their backstories definitely hold a certain allure to me, and a lot of other people.
Well, Glen Duncan is the writer of exceptional villains, in my book, and ever since he wrote the devilishly delicious I, Lucifer in 2003, I’ve been waiting for another fantasy novel written from the perspective of your average independently wealthy, immortal supervillain. Enter Jake Marlowe.
Mr. Duncan certainly delivered, with his tale of the trials and tribulations of your modern-day werewolf, from strategic identity-changes every few decades, to obtaining yourself a human familiar, to finding a human victim each month and reveling in their torture and subsequent consumption. I hasten to add that if you don’t like pornographic or violent scenes in books, nor the tender, philosophical exploration of those gritty topics, then you’d hate this book and won’t have to read any further. But I’m a sucker for that stuff.
I also hasten to add that if you like Twilight, and think this book is similar, get off my website. (Ha ha, just kidding, but this book is nothing like Twilight, aside from the superficial fact that it’s a love story involving mythical creatures and it has vampires in it. To be fair, though, the protagonist despises vampires, says they smell like rotting pig-meat, and believes that they’re impotent.)
So, what is this book really about? It starts with Jake Marlowe, who was infected as an adult sometime in the 1800’s. At the beginning of the book, set in modern day, he feels he has lived long enough, and done enough horrific things, to last him a lifetime. So he just wants to die, and the ‘good guys’ at WOCOP – the World Organisation for the Control of Occult Phenomena – are all too happy to oblige, at first.
The main spanner in the works is that not every part of the WOCOP wants him dead – there are a bunch of rookies who would like to keep their werewolf-hunting job, especially in this economy, thank you very much, so are conspiring towards the Creation of occult phenomena. There are also the vampires (derogatorily called boochies by Mr. Marlowe), who have discovered an interesting side-effect of the werewolf bite, necessitating their desire to prolong the life of the very last werewolf.
Throw a beautiful, perfectly lovely and vicious she-monster into the works and it adds up to be quite a wild ride. Intermingled with these ‘plot’ points (described as such by Mr. Marlowe himself, who has lived long enough to break down and rebuild his own fourth wall at will) are the very visceral, exciting moments of actually being a bloody werewolf. And real werewolves don’t get to hide behind the luxury of devolving into an animalistic state of mind when they transform. Their human minds expand, sharpen, and become one with their wolf form, making every slit throat and ripped out chest-cavity a very haunting experience indeed, when the post-transformation guilt kicks in.
So I would highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good old-fashioned, slightly-sadistic but very human villain just trying to get by in life when it seems everyone is against him.