Rich characterization and sharp writing turn just another werewolf tale into something special.

The One You Feed

From the Shadow Tales series , Vol. 1

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.

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-5007-2447-4

Page Count: 388

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: June 7, 2016

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Debut novel by hip-hop rap artist Sister Souljah, whose No Disrespect (1994), which mixes sexual history with political diatribe, is popular in schools country-wide. In its way, this is a tour de force of black English and underworld slang, as finely tuned to its heroine’s voice as Alice Walker’s The Color Purple. The subject matter, though, has a certain flashiness, like a black Godfather family saga, and the heroine’s eventual fall develops only glancingly from her character. Born to a 14-year-old mother during one of New York’s worst snowstorms, Winter Santiaga is the teenaged daughter of Ricky Santiaga, Brooklyn’s top drug dealer, who lives like an Arab prince and treats his wife and four daughters like a queen and her princesses. Winter lost her virginity at 12 and now focuses unwaveringly on varieties of adolescent self-indulgence: sex and sugar-daddies, clothes, and getting her own way. She uses school only as a stepping-stone for getting out of the house—after all, nobody’s paying her to go there. But if there’s no money in it, why go? Meanwhile, Daddy decides it’s time to move out of Brooklyn to truly fancy digs on Long Island, though this places him in the discomfiting position of not being absolutely hands-on with his dealers; and sure enough the rise of some young Turks leads to his arrest. Then he does something really stupid: he murders his wife’s two weak brothers in jail with him on Riker’s Island and gets two consecutive life sentences. Winter’s then on her own, especially with Bullet, who may have replaced her dad as top hood, though when she selfishly fails to help her pregnant buddy Simone, there’s worse—much worse—to come. Thinness aside: riveting stuff, with language so frank it curls your hair. (Author tour)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-671-02578-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Pocket

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1999

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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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