Life is tough. It’s tougher when you’re a werewolf, or so this lumbering yarn, the third installment in Millar’s (Curse of the Wolf Girl, 2010, etc.) Kalix Werewolf series, assures us.
And not just any old werewolf, but a Scottish werewolf in London, living on the fringe, depressed and drugged. Kalix is just 18, but she’s already killed plenty. In fact, at the top of her “Werewolf Improvement Plan” list of resolutions is the notation, “be less violent.” That’s not so easy to do when a secret sect of werewolf hunters, the Avenaris Guild, is after you and yours. (And why secret? Because werewolf hunters have to be, one guesses.) That, plus the fact that Kalix has drawn werewolf blood, too, in what threatens to develop into a lycanthropic civil war. Whatever the case, she’s a force of, well, supernature: “Her speed and power were abnormal, even by the standards of her fellow werewolves. The madness in battle was just part of her general insanity, according to her detractors”—though it could have something to do with the odd circumstances of her birth as well, with which Millar opens this too-long tome. There are some nice hipster/waif touches in his narrative: Kalix digs the 1970s tough-girl group The Runaways, the humans she falls in with are the pimply arty punks from whom great things may emerge, and the London she inhabits is a playground for all kinds of malevolent critters, including one particularly resourceful fairy. Still, even allowing for all the pop-culture slyness (“The Fire Queen...felt herself to be on the defensive ever since Kabachetka had ingratiated herself with the editor of Vogue by sponsoring the ball”) and pomo irony, there’s not much stuffing in this overstuffed book; the action scenes, though suitably bloody, come too few and too far between, and the principal characters are much too talky for the busily disruptive creatures they are.
Fans of Millar’s work, who are legion, won’t object, but newcomers may want to take in their werewolvery by other means.