A teen’s shocked to learn that not only is a werewolf running loose in town, but it may be his best friend, in this debut novel and start of a supernatural series.
Toby Hoffman’s been a heavy-hearted recluse since losing his mom in a car accident when the young man was behind the wheel. Silver Falls, Oregon, may have a bright spot, however, with 16-year-old Rachel Chochopi as Toby’s new neighbor. Rachel’s friendly but despises bullies, convincing Toby’s best friend, Nate Schaffer, at school to defy browbeating Mike Mulligan and not give the jock his homework. Mike and his goons later retaliate against Nate, chasing him in the woods and leaving him trapped in a cavern. Luckily, a worried Toby and Rachel find Nate relatively unscathed in a torn, bloody shirt—but the stains aren’t his blood. There’s also a mutilated body out there, just like the one Toby’s sheriff dad, Walter, investigated earlier. Rachel’s uncle, Bimisi, wants her to return to the Umatilla Indian Reservation, fearing a legendary shaman is hunting the “white intruders.” Toby’s more concerned about Nate, positive his buddy’s new heightened senses—hearing, for example—and strength are indicative of a lycanthropic state. Not surprisingly, parents, including the sheriff, are reluctant to believe a werewolf’s responsible for a string of savage murders, so Toby and Rachel may have to stop the creature themselves. The brisk novel retains a straightforward plot by going the traditional route: a wolf-attack survivor inevitably becomes a lycanthrope, while silver bullets offer the best defense. Drummond aims for young adults, though there are dark moments. A few characters blurt obscenities, and gory parts abound—there’s definitely a lost limb or two. But it’s more exhilarating than horrific thanks to a speedy tempo and humor both subtle (potential wolf Nate loves monster-hunting games) and gleefully unsubtle (Wolfy’s Diner?). Drummond’s prose is likewise crisp and witty, with Nate watching a “pink lemonade dawn,” followed by “one of his sporadic, hypochondria-induced Internet searches.” The ending teases a sequel, but one that could expand Toby’s world, as well as the series, in curious new directions.
Rich characterization and sharp writing turn just another werewolf tale into something special.