The Last Werewolf

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Then she opened her mouth to scream—and recognised me. It was what I’d been waiting for. She froze. She looked into my eyes. She said, “It’s you.”

Meet Jake. A bit on the elderly side (he turns 201 in March), but you’d never suspect it. Nonstop sex and exercise will do that for you—and a diet with lots of animal protein. Jake is a werewolf, and after the unfortunate and violent death of his one contemporary, ...

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Overview

Then she opened her mouth to scream—and recognised me. It was what I’d been waiting for. She froze. She looked into my eyes. She said, “It’s you.”

Meet Jake. A bit on the elderly side (he turns 201 in March), but you’d never suspect it. Nonstop sex and exercise will do that for you—and a diet with lots of animal protein. Jake is a werewolf, and after the unfortunate and violent death of his one contemporary, he is now the last of his species. Although he is physically healthy, Jake is deeply distraught and lonely.

Jake’s depression has carried him to the point where he is actually contemplating suicide—even if it means terminating a legend thousands of years old. It would seem to be easy enough for him to end everything. But for very different reasons there are two dangerous groups pursuing him who will stop at nothing to keep him alive.

Here is a powerful, definitive new version of the werewolf legend—mesmerising and incredibly sexy. In Jake, Glen Duncan has given us a werewolf for the twenty-first century—a man whose deeds can only be described as monstrous but who is in some magical way deeply human.

One of the most original, audacious, and terrifying novels in years.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

Jake Marlowe is the unhappiest 200-year-old werewolf you are ever likely to meet. In fact, Jake is reported to be the world's last surviving werewolf and while he is musing about suicide, others are hunting him down. A rabid anti-occult group has vowed to annihilate him for sport and a group of vampires want to keep him alive for equally selfish reasons: Apparently, a werewolf bite can serve as a sort of sun-block to guard the undead from deadly exposure. As Jake fights to be the captain of his own fate, he gets welcome news: He might not be the only living werewolf after all. An unconventional slant on an archetypal story.

Publishers Weekly
At the start of British author Duncan's fine supernatural thriller, centuries-old lycanthrope Jake Marlowe learns he has become the last known werewolf on earth. Soon Jake is on the run from not only WOCOP, an antioccult agency that wants to hunt him down for sport, but also vampires, who have discovered that a werewolf bite can desensitize them to the ravages of sun exposure. After escaping horrible torments at the hands of both parties, Jake is shocked to discover that he may not be the last wolf standing, and that it's crucial he survive to propagate his species. Duncan (A Day and a Night and a Day) keeps the pages turning with hairbreadth escapes that have Jake globe-trotting for dear life from Europe to the U.S., but the true allure of his tale is the poetic and evocative prose by which Jake relates his transformations, kills, and thoughts.Savvy and exceptionally literate, this is one smart modern werewolf tale. 100,000 first printing. (July)
Library Journal
Yes, this novel by the keen-eyed, edgy Duncan (A Day and a Night and a Day) features the last living werewolf. And, yes, there are vampires here, who crave Jake for reasons that won't be revealed. But don't give this book to Twilight groupies; the frank tone, dark wit, and elegant, sophisticated language will likely do them in. Jake Marlowe knows he's alone in the world because his only friend, Harley, who's tapped into WOCOP (World Organisation for the Control of Occult Phenomena), has learned that the penultimate wulf was just killed. When Jake discovers his singular status, he's ready to die himself; he's lived two centuries with his burden and knows that he's targeted by a WOCOP higher-up whose father he killed and ate. Then something big happens to change Jake's resolve. Duncan does not pretty up Jake, instead making his monthly transformation and desire for sex, blood, and death ("fuckkilleat") unadorned and brutal. But he also makes Jake's drive to survive our own, even as he shows us Jake's—dare one say it—humanity. VERDICT An adult rendering of a legend that's currently running amok, this work is smart, original, and completely absorbing. Highly recommended. [See Prepub Alert, 1/3/11.]—Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal
From the Publisher
“Glorious . . . I can’t help thinking that wry, world-weary Jake Marlowe would make a fabulous dinner companion. Just not during a full moon.”
—Justin Cronin, The New York Times Book Review
 
“Duncan has finally driven a stake through vampire supremacy . . . Cerebral and campy, philosophical and ironic, The Last Werewolf is a novel that’s always licking its bloody lips and winking at us . . . A dark thriller that explodes with enough conspiracies, subterfuges and murders to raise your hackles. Not to mention such hot werewolf sex that you’ll be tempted to wander out under the full moon yourself next month.”
—Ron Charles, The Washington Post
 
“A shocking new take on the werewolf legend . . . Intelligent, fast-moving, creative, and thrilling.”
The Daily Beast
 
“A clever narrative with a memorable antihero at its feral, furry heart.”
—Thom Geier, Entertainment Weekly
 
“Quirky and brilliant—and definitely not for kids.”
Kirkus Reviews
 
“Savvy and exceptionally literate, this is one smart modern werewolf tale. . .  [A] fine supernatural thriller.”
Publishers Weekly
 
“The Last Werewolf is like an updated version of Dracula, only for werewolves, and as rewritten by Bret Easton Ellis . . . In its own blood-crazed and sex-dazed way, The Last Werewolf makes the case for literature.”
—Stephen Poole, The Guardian (UK)
 
“Sexy, funny, blisteringly intelligent . . .  Duncan is the cleverest literary horror merchant since Bram Stoker.”
—Kate Saunders, The Times (London)
 
“Okay, no hyperbole, just an admission: I loved this novel. It’s a howl, a rager, a scream. May The Last Werewolf put a stake through the heart of humorless, overwrought vampire sagas. Two big thumb-claws up!”
—Chris Bohjalian, author of Secrets of Eden, The Double Bind, and Midwives
 
“A brilliantly original thriller, a love story, a witty treatise on male (and female) urges, even an existential musing on what it is to be human. Get one for yourself and one for the Twilight fan in your life.”
—James Medd, The Word  (UK)
 
“Space should be cleared for this violent, sexy thriller . . . The answer to Twilight that adults have been waiting for.”
—Courtney Jones, Booklist
 
“Yes, there are vampires here . . . But don’t give this book to Twilight groupies; the frank tone, dark wit, and elegant, sophisticated language will likely do them in. . . .  Smart, original, and completely absorbing. Highly recommended.”
—­Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal (Starred review)
 
“The best books are blurb defying; they're far too potent for a flimsy net of adjectives ever to capture them. I could say that The Last Werewolf is smart, thrilling, funny, moving, beautifully written, and a joy to read, and this would all be true. But it would also be a woeful understatement of what Glen Duncan has accomplished with his extraordinary novel. The only useful thing I can offer you is a simple admonishment.  Stop reading my words, and start reading his. Trust me: you’ll be happy you did.”
—Scott Smith, author of The Ruins
 
“A magnificent novel. A brutal, indignant, lunatic howl. A sexy, blood-spattered page-turner, beautifully crafted and full of genuine suspense, that tears the thorax out of the horror genre to create something that stands rapturous and majestic and entirely on its own.”
—Nick Cave
Kirkus Reviews

Duncan continues the long tradition of werewolf literature in this harrowing novel of lupine transformation.

In the 21st century the victims of werewolves' bites have been dying rather than transforming, so when the penultimate werewolf is eliminated, Jake Marlowe becomes the last. Jake is on the hit list for WOCOP, the World Organization for the Control of Occult Phenomena, and he expects to be eliminated by Grainer, whose family he had killed and devoured during a full moon a while back. Helping Jake is his friend Harley, whom he had saved from a homophobic attack some 30 years before. Jake realizes the stakes are high when Harley's head is delivered to him...so obviously no help will come from that quarter. We find out that Jake was born in the early 19th century and became a werewolf through a brief and fluky encounter with one while on a trip to Wales. His transformation led him to kill and eat his beloved wife Arabella. (Duncan gives us much more information about werewolves to devour—for example, that their libidos become hyperactive during the time of the full moon.) Although Jake fully expects to be eliminated, he makes every effort to escape from the various, mostly inept hunters WOCOP sends. And then something unprecedented and earth-shattering occurs—his acute sense of smell leads him to find another werewolf, this one a female named Talulla Demetriou. Together they go on the lam, but Grainer continues his pursuit—at least until Ellis, Grainer's protégé, tries to strike a deal with Jake, for Ellis would like to kill Grainer instead. It seems as though having at least one werewolf alive gives Ellis a reason for living.

Duncan's writing is quirky and brilliant—and definitely not for kids.

Justin Cronin
The challenge for any writer working within an established genre, especially a genre with a reputation for high camp, is to bring something new to the table while adhering to tradition. On both points, Duncan…scores high marks…Marlowe…deliver[s] his lengthy confession…with the pounding energy of water shot from a fire hose. Two centuries of undead living have endowed him with a vast pile of cultural capital and a linguistic style that swings gleefully between the wisecracking cynicism of his noir namesake and the syntactical curlicues of Humbert Humbert. Like Nabokov's dandified pedophile, Marlowe imparts the contents of his inner life and his impressions of the world around him in a series of succulent verbal morsels.
—The New York Times
From the Publisher
“Glorious . . . I can’t help thinking that wry, world-weary Jake Marlowe would make a fabulous dinner companion. Just not during a full moon.”
—Justin Cronin, The New York Times Book Review
 
“Duncan has finally driven a stake through vampire supremacy . . . Cerebral and campy, philosophical and ironic, The Last Werewolf is a novel that’s always licking its bloody lips and winking at us . . . A dark thriller that explodes with enough conspiracies, subterfuges and murders to raise your hackles. Not to mention such hot werewolf sex that you’ll be tempted to wander out under the full moon yourself next month.”
—Ron Charles, The Washington Post
 
“A shocking new take on the werewolf legend . . . Intelligent, fast-moving, creative, and thrilling.”
The Daily Beast
 
“A clever narrative with a memorable antihero at its feral, furry heart.”
—Thom Geier, Entertainment Weekly
 
“Quirky and brilliant—and definitely not for kids.”
Kirkus Reviews
 
“Savvy and exceptionally literate, this is one smart modern werewolf tale. . .  [A] fine supernatural thriller.”
Publishers Weekly
 
“The Last Werewolf is like an updated version of Dracula, only for werewolves, and as rewritten by Bret Easton Ellis . . . In its own blood-crazed and sex-dazed way, The Last Werewolf makes the case for literature.”
—Stephen Poole, The Guardian (UK)
 
“Sexy, funny, blisteringly intelligent . . .  Duncan is the cleverest literary horror merchant since Bram Stoker.”
—Kate Saunders, The Times (London)
 
“Okay, no hyperbole, just an admission: I loved this novel. It’s a howl, a rager, a scream. May The Last Werewolf put a stake through the heart of humorless, overwrought vampire sagas. Two big thumb-claws up!”
—Chris Bohjalian, author of Secrets of Eden, The Double Bind, and Midwives
 
“A brilliantly original thriller, a love story, a witty treatise on male (and female) urges, even an existential musing on what it is to be human. Get one for yourself and one for the Twilight fan in your life.”
—James Medd, The Word  (UK)
 
“Space should be cleared for this violent, sexy thriller . . . The answer to Twilight that adults have been waiting for.”
—Courtney Jones, Booklist
 
“Yes, there are vampires here . . . But don’t give this book to Twilight groupies; the frank tone, dark wit, and elegant, sophisticated language will likely do them in. . . .  Smart, original, and completely absorbing. Highly recommended.”
—­Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal (Starred review)
 
“The best books are blurb defying; they're far too potent for a flimsy net of adjectives ever to capture them. I could say that The Last Werewolf is smart, thrilling, funny, moving, beautifully written, and a joy to read, and this would all be true. But it would also be a woeful understatement of what Glen Duncan has accomplished with his extraordinary novel. The only useful thing I can offer you is a simple admonishment.  Stop reading my words, and start reading his. Trust me: you’ll be happy you did.”
—Scott Smith, author of The Ruins
 
“A magnificent novel. A brutal, indignant, lunatic howl. A sexy, blood-spattered page-turner, beautifully crafted and full of genuine suspense, that tears the thorax out of the horror genre to create something that stands rapturous and majestic and entirely on its own.”
—Nick Cave
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780307595089
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 7/12/2011
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Glen Duncan is the author of seven previous novels. He was chosen by both Arena and The Times Literary Supplement as one of Britain’s best young novelists. He lives in London.

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Read an Excerpt

The Last Werewolf


By Glen Duncan

Knopf

Copyright © 2011 Glen Duncan
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780307595089

1

“It’s official,” Harley said. “They killed the Berliner two nights ago. You’re the last.” Then after a pause: “I’m sorry.”

Yesterday evening this was. We were in the upstairs library of his Earl’s Court house, him standing at a tense tilt between stone hearth and oxblood couch, me in the window seat with a tumbler of forty-five-year-old Macallan and a Camel Filter, staring out at dark London’s fast-falling snow. The room smelled of tangerines and leather and the fire’s pine logs. Forty-eight hours on I was still sluggish from the Curse. Wolf drains from the wrists and shoulders last. In spite of what I’d just heard I thought: Madeline can give me a massage later, warm jasmine oil and the long-nailed magnolia hands I don’t love and never will.

“What are you going to do?” Harley said.

I sipped, swallowed, glimpsed the peat bog plashing white legs of the kilted clan Macallan as the whisky kindled in my chest. It’s official. You’re the last. I’m sorry. I’d known what he was going to tell me. Now that he had, what? Vague ontological vertigo. Kubrik’s astronaut with the severed umbilicus -spinning away all alone into infinity . . . At a certain point one’s imagination refused. The phrase was: It doesn’t bear thinking about. Manifestly it didn’t.

“Marlowe?”

“This room’s dead to you,” I said. “But there are bibliophiles the world over it would reduce to tears of joy.” No exaggeration. Harley’s collection’s worth a million-six, books he doesn’t go to anymore because he’s entered the phase of having given up reading. If he lives another ten years he’ll enter the next phase—of having gone back to it. Giving up reading seems the height of maturity at first. Like all such heights a false summit. It’s a human thing. I’ve seen it countless times. Two hundred years, you see everything countless times.

“I can’t imagine what this is like for you,” he said.

“Neither can I.”

“We need to plan.”

I didn’t reply. Instead let the silence fill with the alternative to planning. Harley lit a Gauloise and topped us up with an unsteady hand, lilac-veined and liver-spotted these days. At seventy he maintains longish thinning grey hair and a plump nicotined moustache that looks waxed but isn’t. There was a time when his young men called him Buffalo Bill. Now his young men know Buffalo Bill only as the serial killer from The Silence of the Lambs. During periods of psychic weakness he leans on a bone-handled cane, though he’s been told by his doctor it’s ruining his spine.

“The Berliner,” I said. “Grainer killed him?”

“Not Grainer. His Californian protégé, Ellis.”

“Grainer’s saving himself for the main event. He’ll come after me alone.”

Harley sat down on the couch and stared at the floor. I know what scares him: If I die first there’ll be no salving surreality between him and his conscience. Jake Marlowe is a monster, fact. Kills and devours people, fact. Which makes him, Harley, an accessory after the fact, fact. With me alive, walking and talking and doing the lunar shuffle once a month he can live in it as in a decadent dream. Did I mention my best friend’s a werewolf, by the way? Dead, I’ll force a brutal awakening. I helped Marlowe get away with murder. He’ll probably kill himself or go once and for all mad. One of his upper left incisors is full gold, a dental anachronism that suggests semicraziness anyway.

“Next full moon,” he said. “The rest of the Hunt’s been ordered to stand down. It’s Grainer’s party. You know what he’s like.”

Indeed. Eric Grainer is the Hunt’s Big Dick. All upper-echelon members of WOCOP (World Organisation for the Control of Occult Phenomena) are loaded or bankrolled by the loaded for their expertise. Grainer’s expertise is tracking and killing my kind. My kind. Of which, thanks to WOCOP’s assassins and a century of no new howling kids on the block, it turns out I’m the last. I thought of the Berliner, whose name (God being dead, irony still rollickingly alive) was Wolfgang, pictured his last moments: the frost reeling under him, his moonlit muzzle and sweating pelt, the split-second in which his eyes merged dis-belief and fear and horror and sadness and relief—then the white and final light of silver.

“What are you going to do?” Harley repeated.

All wolf and no gang. Humour darkens. I looked out of the window. The snow was coming down with the implacability of an Old Testament plague. In Earl’s Court Road pedestrians tottered and slid and in the cold swirling angelic freshness felt their childhoods still there and the shock like a snapped stem of not being children anymore. Two nights ago I’d eaten a forty-three-year-old hedge fund specialist. I’ve been in a phase of taking the ones no one wants. My last phase, apparently.

“Nothing,” I said.

“You’ll have to get out of London.”

“What for?”

“We’re not going to have this conversation.”

“It’s time.”

“It’s not time.”

“Harley—”

“You’ve got a duty to live, same as the rest of us.”

“Hardly the same as the rest of you.”

“Nevertheless. You go on living. And don’t give me any poetic bollocks about being tired. It’s bogus. It’s bad script.”

“It’s not bad script,” I said. “I am tired.”

“Been around too long, worn out by history, too full of content, emptily replete—you’ve told me. I don’t believe you. And in any case you don’t give up. You love life because life’s all there is. There’s no God and that’s His only Commandment. Give me your word.”

I was thinking, as the honest part of me had been from the moment Harley had given me the news, You’ll have to tell it now. The untellable tale. You wondered how long a postponement you’d get. Turns out you got a hundred and sixty-seven years. Quite a while to keep a girl waiting.

“Give me your word, Jake.”

“Give you my word what?”

“Give me your word you’re not going to sit there like a cabbage till Grainer tracks you down and kills you.”

When I’d imagined this moment I’d imagined clean relief. Now the moment had arrived there was relief, but it wasn’t clean. The sordid little flame of selfhood shimmied in protest. Not that my self’s what it used to be. These days it deserves a sad smile, as might a twinge of vestigial lust in an old man’s balls. “Shot him, did they?” I asked. “Herr Wolfgang?”

Harley took a fretful drag, then while exhaling through his nostrils mashed the Gauloise in a standing obsidian ashtray. “They didn’t shoot him,” he said. “Ellis cut his head off.”


2

All paradigm shifts answer the amoral craving for novelty. Obama’s election victory did it. So did the Auschwitz footage in its day. Good and evil are irrelevant. Show us the world’s not the way we thought it was and a part of us rejoices. Nothing’s exempt. One’s own death-sentence elicits a mad little hallelujah, and mine ’s egregiously overdue. For ten, twenty, thirty years now I’ve been dragging myself through the motions. How long do werewolves live? Madeline asked recently. According to WOCOP around four hundred years. I don’t know how. Naturally one sets oneself challenges—Sanskrit, Kant, advanced calculus, t’ai chi—but that only addresses the problem of Time. The bigger problem, of Being, just keeps getting bigger. (Vampires, not surprisingly, have an on-off love affair with catatonia.) One by one I’ve exhausted the modes: hedonism, asceticism, spontaneity, refl ection, everything from miserable Socrates to the happy pig. My mechanism’s worn out. I don’t have what it takes. I still have feelings but I’m sick of having them. Which is another feeling I’m sick of having. I just . . . I just don’t want any more life.

Harley crashed from anxiety to morbidity to melancholy but I remained dreamy and light, part voluntary obtuseness, part Zenlike acceptance, part simply an inability to concentrate. You can’t just ignore this, he kept saying. You can’t just fucking roll over. For a while I responded mildly with things like Why not? and Of course I can, but he got so worked up—the bone-handled cane came back into play—I feared for his heart and changed tack. Just let me digest, I told him. Just let me think. Just let me, in fact, get laid, as I’ve arranged to do, as I’m paying for even as we speak. This was true (Madeline waited at a £360-a-night boutique hotel across town) but it wasn’t a happy shift of topic for Harley: prostate surgery three months ago left his libido in a sulk and London’s rent boys bereft of munifi cent patronage. However, it got me out of there. Tearily drunk, he embraced me and insisted I borrow a woollen hat and made me promise to call him in twenty-four hours, whereafter, he kept repeating, all this pathetic sissying cod Hamlet bollocks would have to stop.

It was still snowing when I stepped out into the street. Vehicular traffic was poignantly stupefi ed and Earl’s Court Underground was closed. For a moment I stood adjusting to the air’s fierce innocence. I hadn’t known the Berliner, but what was he if not kin? He’d had a near miss in the Black Forest two years ago, fl ed to the States and gone off-radar in Alaska. If he ’d stayed in the wilderness he might still be alive. (The thought, “wilderness,” stirred the ghost animal, ran cold fingers through the pelt that wasn’t there; mountains like black glass and slivers of snow and the blood-hot howl on ice-flavoured air . . . ) But home pulls. It draws you back to tell you you don’t belong. They got Wolfgang twenty miles from Berlin. Ellis cut his head off. The death of a loved one brutally vivifies everything: clouds, street corners, faces, TV ads. You bear it because others share the grief. Species death leaves no others. You’re alone among all the eerily renewed particulars.

Tongue out to taste the cold falling fl akes I got the fi rst inklings of the weight the world might put on me for the time I had left, the mass of its detail, its relentless plotless insistence. Again, it didn’t bear thinking about. This would be my torture: All that didn’t bear thinking about would devote itself to forcing me to bear thinking about it.

I lit a Camel and hauled myself into focus. Practicalities: Get to Gloucester Road on foot. Circle Line to Farringdon. Ten minutes flailing trek to the Zetter, where Madeline, God bless her mercenary charms, would be waiting. I pulled the woollen cap down snug over my ears and began walking.

Harley had said: Grainer wants the monster not the man. You’ve got time. I didn’t doubt he was right. There were twenty-seven days to the next full moon and thanks to the interference Harley had been running WOCOP still had me in Paris. Which knowledge sustained me for a few minutes despite the growing conviction—this is paranoia, you’re doing this to yourself—that I was being followed.

Then, turning into Cromwell Road, the denial allowance was spent and there was nothing between me and the livid fact: I was being followed.

This is paranoia, I began again, but the mantra had lost its magic. Pressing on me from behind was warm insinuation where should have been uninterrupted cold: surveillance. Snow and buildings molecularly swelled in urgent confi rmation: They’ve found you. It’s already begun.

Adrenaline isn’t interested in ennui. Adrenaline fl oods, regardless, in my state not just the human fi bres but lupine leftovers too, those creature dregs that hadn’t fully conceded transformation. Phantom wolf energies and their Homo sapiens correlates wriggled and belched in my scalp, shoulders, wrists, knees. My bladder tingled as in the too fast pitch down from a Ferris wheel’s summit. The absurdity was being unable, shin-deep in snow, to quicken my pace. Harley had tried to press a Smith & Wesson automatic on me before I’d left but I’d laughed it away. Stop being a granny. I imagined him watching now on CCTV saying, Yes, Harley the granny. I hope you’re happy, Marlowe, you fucking idiot.

I tossed the cigarette and shoved my hands into my overcoat pockets. Harley had to be warned. If the Hunt was tailing me then they knew where I’d just been. The Earl’s Court house wasn’t in his name (masqueraded instead as what it was perfectly equipped to be, an elite rare book dealership) and had hitherto been safe. But if WOCOP had uncovered it then Harley—for nearly fi fty years my double agent, my fix-it, my familiar, my friend—might already be dead.

If, then . . . If, then . . . This, aside from the business of monthly transformation, the inestimable drag of Being a Werewolf, is what I’m sick of, the endless logistics. There ’s a reason humans peg-out around eighty: prose fatigue. It looks like organ failure or cancer or stroke but it’s really just the inability to carry on clambering through the assault course of mundane cause and effect. If we ask Sheila then we can’t ask Ron. If I have the kippers now then it’s quiche for tea. Four score years is about all the ifs and thens you can take. Dementia’s the sane realisation you just can’t be doing with all that anymore.

My face was hot and tender. The snow’s recording studio hush made small sounds distinct: someone opening a can of beer; a burp; a purse snapping shut. Across the road three drunk young men hysterically scuffled with one another. A cabbie wrapped in a tartan blanket stood by his vehicle ’s open door complaining into a mobile. Outside Flamingo two hotdog-eating bouncers in Cossack hats presided over a line of shivering clubbers. Nothing like the blood and meat of the young. You can taste the audacity of hope. Post-Curse these thoughts still shoot up like the inappropriate erections of adolescence. I crossed over, joined the end of the queue, with Buddhist detachment registered the thudding succulence of the three underdressed girls in front of me, and dialled Harley on the secure mobile. He answered after three rings.

“Someone’s following me,” I said. “You need to get out of there. It’s compromised.”

The expected delay. He’d been drunk-dozing with the phone in his hand, set to vibrate. I could picture him, creased, struggling up from the couch, hair aloft with static, fumbling for the Gauloise. “Harley? Are you listening? The house isn’t safe. Get out and go under.”

“Are you sure?”

“I’m sure. Don’t waste time.”

“But I mean they don’t know you’re here. They absolutely do not. I’ve seen the intel updates myself. For fuck’s sake I wrote most of them. Jake?” Impossible in the falling snow to get a lock on my footpad. If he ’d seen me cross he’d have got into a doorway. There was a dark-haired artfully stubbled fashion-model type in a trench coat across the road ostensibly arrested by a text message, but if that was him then he was either an idiot or he wanted me to see him. No other obvious candidate.

“Jake?”

“Yeah. Look, don’t fuck about, Harley. Is there somewhere you can go?”

I heard him exhale, saw the aging linen-suited frame sag. It was upon him, suddenly, what it would mean if his WOCOP cover was blown. Seventy’s too old to start running. Over the phone ’s drift of not silence I could sense him visualising it, the hotel rooms, the bribes, the aliases, the death of trust. No life for an old man. “Well, I can go to Founders, I suppose, assuming no one shoots me between here and Child’s Street.” Founders was the Foundation, Harley’s satirically exclusive club, sub-Jeeves butlers and state-of-the-art escorts, priceless antiques and cutting-edge entertainment technology, massage therapists, a resident Tarot reader and a three-Michelin-starred chef. Membership required wealth but forbade fame; celebrity drew attention, and this was a place for the rich to vice quietly. According to Harley fewer than a hundred people knew of its existence. “Why don’t you let me check fi rst?” he said. “Let me get into WOCOP and—”

“Give me your word you’ll take the gun and go.”

He knew I was right, just didn’t want it. Not now, so un prepared. I pictured him looking around the room. All the books. So many things were ending, without warning.

“All right,” he said. “Fuck.”

“Call me when you get to the club.”

It did occur to me to similarly avail myself of Flamingo, since there it was. No Hunter would risk so public a hit. From the outside the night club was an unmarked dark brick front and a metal door that might have served a bank vault. Above it one tiny pink neon fl amingo none but the cognoscenti would divine. In the movie version I’d go in and sneak out of a toilet window or meet a girl and start a problematic love affair that would somehow save my life at the expense of hers. In reality I’d go in, spend four hours being watched by my assassin without figuring out who it was then find myself back on the street.

I moved away from the queue. A warm beam of consciousness followed me. One glance at the glamour boy in the trench coat revealed him pocketing his mobile and setting off in my wake, but I couldn’t convince myself it was him. The ether spoke of greater refi nement. I looked at my watch: 12:16. Last train from Gloucester Road wouldn’t be later than 12:30. Even at this pace I should make it. If not I’d check in at the Cavendish and forgo Madeline, though, since I’d given her carte blanche with room service over at the Zetter, I’d most likely be bankrupt by morning.

These, you’ll say, were not the calculations of a being worn out by history, too full of content, emptily replete. Granted. But it’s one thing to know death’s twenty-seven days away, quite another to know it might be making your acquaintance any second now. To be murdered here, in human shape, would be gross, precipitate and—despite there being no such thing as justice—unjust. Besides, the person tracking me couldn’t be Grainer. As Harley said, his lordship prized the wulf not the wer, and the thought of being despatched by anyone less than the Hunt’s finest was repugnant. And this was to say nothing of my one diarist’s duty still undischarged: If I was snuffed out here and now who would tell the untellable tale? The whole disease of your life written but for that last lesion of the heart, its malignancy and muse. God’s gone, Meaning too, and yet aesthetic fraudulence still has the power to shame.

All of which, my cynic said, as I stopped under a street lamp to light another Camel, was decent enough, unless it was just a fancy rationalisation for the sudden and desperate desire not to die.

At which point a silenced bullet hit the street lamp’s concrete three inches above my head.

Continues...

Excerpted from The Last Werewolf by Glen Duncan Copyright © 2011 by Glen Duncan. Excerpted by permission of Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Reading Group Guide

1. Werewolves have a long literary lineage, in folk tales and works of fiction, and they loom large in popular culture. In what ways does The Last Werewolf remain faithful to the genre and at the same time bring something new to it? In what ways is it innovative?

2. Once a month, Jake murders and eats an innocent human being (or mostly innocent—hedge fund manger is borderline). And yet he is a tremendously likable character. How does Duncan make him so appealing despite his being a monster?

3. Why is Jake so disillusioned with life as the novel begins? Why is he willing to let himself be killed? What makes him want to live again?

4. Jacqueline Delon tells Jake: “Werewolves are not a subject for academe...but you know what the professors would be saying if they were. ‘Monsters die out when the collective imagination no longer needs them. Species death like this is nothing more than a shift in the aggregate psychic agenda." Why would human beings need to create monsters? What psychic function do monsters such as werewolves and vampires serve? Is Delon correct in concluding that “The beast is redundant. It’s been us all along”?

5. Why does Jake murder and devour his wife and their unborn child as his first kill? How does he punish himself for that crime?

6. Throughout his narrative, Jake references Shakespeare, Charlotte Bronte, Matthew Arnold, Nabakov, Susan Sontag, Ovid, and many other writers. What does his literary sophistication and general worldliness add to his character?

7. Is “the Hunger” as Jake calls it—the irresistible need to kill and eat a live human being—a metaphor? Does it have some larger meaning, or is it simply what werewolves are condemned to do?

8. What makes Glenn Duncan’s prose style so distinctive and engaging? What are some of the novel’s most arresting passages or scenes?

9. Why does Jake keep a journal? What function does telling his story serve for him? Is Jacqueline Delon right when she says: “What is this—what are these journals—if not the compulsion to tell the truth of what you are? And what is the compulsion to tell the truth if not a moral compulsion?” Is Jake, in the end, a moral being?

10. Why do Ellis, Poulsom, and the vampires all want Jake to live? Why does Grainer want him dead?

11. The Last Werewolf is a tremendously sensual novel. After making love in a Manhattan hotel, Jake and Talulla lie on the bed, “warm as a pot of sunlit honey." What are some of the novel’s most erotically charged passages? What are some other examples of the sensuousness of Duncan’s prose?

12. Why would variations on the ironic statement, You live because you have to. There is no God and this is his only Commandment appear like a refrain throughout the novel? What is Jake’s attitude toward God and irony?

13. The Last Werewolf is a supernatural thriller, a witty and often biting cultural commentary, a confession narrative, and a love story. What does the love story, Jake’s relationship with Talulla, add to the novel? Why is it important, both in terms of the plot and in terms of Jake’s emotional development? How does being with Tululla change him?

14. In talking about Quinn’s journal and why he tried to find it, Jake tells Talulla: “It’s the same old shit. The desire to know whence we came in the hope it’ll shed light on why we’re here and where we’re going. The desire for life to mean something more than random subatomic babble." Why might a werewolf be especially concerned with the origin and meaning of his life? Does Jake really feel it’s foolish to want answers to those questions?

15. What is the irony of America’s Next Top Model playing in background as Jake and Tululla devour music producer Drew Hillard? Where else does Jake make references to pop culture? In what ways does the novel present a critique of pop culture while at the same time participating in it?

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 134 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(42)

4 Star

(40)

3 Star

(25)

2 Star

(20)

1 Star

(7)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 134 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 15, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    A MUST READ for any myth or lore lover!

    I am a huge skeptic when it comes to reading new fiction, especially when it has to do with werewolves and vampires. It seems that nowadays authors enjoy tweaking the lore surrounding these mythical creatures to fit their own agendas. Some of it is alright, but usually the end result is disappointing. So I opened this novel with an open mind but a skeptics outlook. I have to say I absolutely loved it! It was a book that kept me thoroughly intrigued and the choice of a narrative journalistic style writing was interesting. I have since had three of my friends read it, as well as my boyfriend (who isn't much of a fiction reader), and they all loved it. It is a novel that does an alright job as a stand alone book, there weren't a ton of loose ends, and I was content with the ending of the book. However, if Duncan chooses to write a sequel The Last Werewolf left enough room that the sequel should be a great read as well. Two thumbs up from this reader!

    11 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 22, 2011

    Wouldn't recommend

    I didn't care for they way the writer jumps around.Hard to tell if these are his thoughts now, in the past, or is someone else giving a opinion.Not my kind of book.I don't believe I will buy from this author again

    6 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 16, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    A winner

    Two centuries old Jake Marlowe is depressed in spite of the fact his physical health is good, he gets all the sex he craves and his high red meat diet is perfect for his metabolism as human fresh flesh is a delight. His despondency is caused by learning from his only friend Harley, who hacked into the World Organization for the Control of Occult Phenomena (WOCOP) database that the other remaining werewolf was just killed.

    Jake considers suicide though that would make his species extinct. Meanwhile the vampires hunt him for a purpose that only a bloodsucker would comprehend; while a high ranking WOCOP official stalks him seeking vengeance for Jake dining on his father. Being hunted is not new to The Last Werewolf, but when backed to a cage wall the predator takes over as Jake hunts the hunters.

    Jake is a fantastic intelligent and witty protagonist obsessed with the duo needs of sex and eat as he rarely psychologically moves above the Physiological lowest level of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs; except when his life is at stake he climbs to the next level of personal Safety. The biographical fiction story line is driven by the title character who turns beastly when he hungers for sex or food; preferably together.

    Harriet Klausner

    6 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 6, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Not a literary work of art

    This book is a graphic horror novel. I didn't find it that new or clever. However, it's not just a formula, spit out by anyone. The writer has his own voice, certainly, and that is appreciated and kept me entertained.

    Most of the novel is written from a male point of view. It is really violent and graphic and very male. I didn't feel the author could then shift to a female perspective. The female characters were all heavily imbued with male traits, so much so it did not ring true. Either that or they were caricatured and one dimensional add ons. This was disappointing and made it feel flat and one note.

    I would say reading it was like riding a roller coaster that had some really thrilling drops, but too many teeth clacking turns and head banging loops. When it ends, you don't want to get back on.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 24, 2011

    In the end, disappointing

    This was ultimately a disappointing read.

    I'm not a prude by any means, but the author's use of profanity and sexual descriptions bordered on the obscene. It felt like he was using the terminology he chose simply for shock value.

    In a similar vein was his vocabulary. Occasionally, in a non-fiction book, I'll have to look something up (great feature in Nook, btw). In this novel, the philosophical and existential werewolf narrator seems to enjoy regaling the reader, since this is purportedly his journal we are reading, with obscure terminology and references.

    The story is essentially the tale of 201 year old Jake Marlowe, the last surviving werewolf (or not) who is being hunted both by vampires who are in a mutually despising relationship with the werewolves, and WOCOP, an agency whose funding is not made clear that to control occult phenomena. By control, they mean eliminate, at least as far as werewolves go. It seemed vampires got a pass on their attention.

    Along the way, he meets Tullula, another werewolf, thus making him no longer the last werewolf, with suggestions there may be yet more werewolves unknown to wither WOCOP, the vampires or Jake Marlowe.

    The denouement came as both a bit of a surprise but with what amounts to a lead in for a continuation of the story.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 26, 2011

    I wanted so much more.

    This felt more like a first draft than a completed novel. There is stuff to like here, but you have to wade through a ton of navel-gazing to get to the story, and once you are there it thrills, stalls, stops, starts back up but finally disappoints.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 7, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Werewolves. They are stinky, vulgar and probably the most under-

    Werewolves. They are stinky, vulgar and probably the most under-celebrated monster of the horror world. Our poor perception of these mythical beasts tends to ride in tandem with our unadulterated love for their sexier, glamorized, undead foes. Well, Glen Duncan is here to change all that. Meet Jake Marlowe—he’s the hero (and I say that in the loosest sense of the word) at the center of Duncan’s novel, The Last Werewolf. Jake is a 200 year old werewolf with a voracious libido. He loves good scotch, chain-smoking and philosophical musings. He’s also the last of his kind. When a secret paranormal organization seeks to exterminate him, he struggles to figure out his place in the world. Does he continue on with this violent, lonely existence or attempt to find some peace by giving up his life? Written in journal-format, we’re given an insider’s peek at Jake’s moral dilemmas, random musings and darkest secrets.

    The Last Werewolf is not what you’d expect for a book about werewolves. Just take a look at the author and I think it becomes clearly evident we’ve exited the realm of the ordinary. No, seriously. Take a look at his photo on the back of the book.Now you see why this story has so much potential. And yes, I'm saying that I do judge a book by its cover, so to speak. But I digress. Duncan’s crafted an interesting dichotomy where the fiction sits somewhere in between horror and idealism. Make no mistake, folks, cultured as he is, our protagonist Jake isn’t a very nice guy. He has rampant sex with hookers and murders people in the most gruesome of ways. That is where the “horror” comes in to play. I mean, sure—a werewolf’s gotta do what a werewolf’s gotta do—but Jake’s so much more than that. We’re taken inside the mind of a man who’s at the end of his rope. It’s a story about the internal struggle to come to terms with the monster inside and make sense of how to keep on living when everything and everyone he loves is stripped away. It puts ethics to the test by asking, how does the human deal with moral accountability when the wolf comes out to play? In other words, it delves into some serious psychological stuff.

    My first initial impressions of this book weren’t all that great, if I’m being honest. I found the writing to be a bit tedious and wordy. But once I got past the blatant “oh-woe-is-me” monotony of the first few chapters, it transformed (much like Jake, himself) into something much more poignant and exciting, something not unlike a James Bond film, actually. It gets gritty, dark and in places, kind of campy. There are secret organizations, beautiful women, guns, cars and cliffhangers galore. But that’s also what keeps it from being too bogged down with intensity. That and amusing quips like “Reader, I ate him.” You can’t help but root for a guy like that, even if he is a "bad one." Character development isn’t Duncan’s only strength though. He holds our suspension of disbelief and brings the magic of transformation to life in his detailed descriptions of Jake’s physical and mental change. This is a real-world example of the old writer’s adage “show, don’t tell,” one that I’ve really come to appreciate. We’re given a clear sense of Jake’s world, both pre and post infection. Yep. There's even a bit of sci-fi sprinkled in there. Duncan flips the script on what we know about vampires, werewolves and the supernatural world and I have to say, it’s a refreshing change for the horror genre.

    I know it sounds like there’s a lot going on and there is, but it's good stuff if you can just push through it. If you’re looking for “light reading” then this definitely isn’t the book for you, but for those enjoy a great piece of literature full of substance, you've found a sure winner. Duncan has done a superb job of creating an interesting albeit morally ambiguous protagonist. Jake Marlowe is someone I’d love chat with over a fancy dinner; ya know, provided there’s not a full moon that night. He’s cultured, wry, morose and deeply jaded, and despite all his tragic set-backs, we come to see that he’s still a man underneath all that monster. So I leave you with this, dear Reader: “In the meantime there’s the Curse to get through. Tonight’s the full moon, and the Hunger doesn’t care what you’ve been through or what your fears are or where you’ll be next week. There’s a comfort in it, the purity of its demand, its imperviousness to reason or remorse. The hunger, in its vicious simplicity, teaches you how to be a werewolf.” And wouldn't you know--that's something I've always wanted to know.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 8, 2012

    One of the most interesting and well written fictions I've read.

    One of the most interesting and well written fictions I've read. Duncan has an unique style and amazing ability to tell a story. I can't say enough good things about the plot or his style. I never would have heard of this book if I hadn't been stuck in rush hour Chicago traffic channel surfing over the radio and found an NPR interview with Duncan about this book. Read this book!

    I strongly disagree with the points made by many people rating this lower than a 3. I started writing counter arguements until I realized this is not the forum for that. I think there are a lot of nuiances they missed or didn't understand. If you enjoy a good story, read this book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 18, 2014

    Good read

    The best book i have read in a long time

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 15, 2014

    Interesting but...

    The book was interesting enough to read in its entirety. However after a few too many references in the non-existence of God, I couldn't wait for the end. I have to admit the presumed origin of lycanthropy was interesting (despite being simply wrong on many levels) but the way the author went about it, it would have been better if he didn't dismiss that or leave it without end. Not a total waste of money or time but if you have any inking of doubt, then don't get this book.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 13, 2014

    A great story with great characters. story development and insig

    A great story with great characters. story development and insightful ideas about the life of an immortal. Recommend reading all three novels.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 2, 2014

    One of those books you have to finish to the end, sexy, comical,

    One of those books you have to finish to the end, sexy, comical, viciously insightful, brilliant and Gothic springs to mind to describe
    this novel. The writer is very perceptive in his brutal use of language yet is able to detach himself from mortality and humanity, a
    rarity amongst writer. I like the way the writer depicts himself as the werewolf and is able to put forward in his writing how the werewolf feels as both
    man and animal. 

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 3, 2014

    The last werewolf is tired of being a werewolf and all that it e

    The last werewolf is tired of being a werewolf and all that it entails. He is being followed and has to be alert against his enemies. In his human form his life is good. In werewolf form not so good. I struggled with some of the violent scenes, although presumably typical werewolf behaviour. There were some clever and unexpected twists, particularly at the end.

    I received a free copy from NetGalley in return for an honest review.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 9, 2013

    Not for everyone

    Found it a little hard to follow

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 25, 2013

    Rules

    1. You must act as a pack, work together, talk to everyone, no one should be ignored. 2. If you wish to have a mate it must be approved by both Alphas. 3. If you wish to be Alpha or Beta you must wait till they have not been on for at least 3 days (unless they have said they will be gone in advance for vacation or a camp, etc) 4. No fighting unless there is a threat to the pack (no fighting with each other) you will be kicked out if you are caught (you may train though) 5. You must be active you may be kicked out if you are absent for awhile (the amount of time depends on your rank, the higher your rank the more you need to be on) 6. Must follow the rules (duh) you will be kicked out if you break them, you will get one warning. That is all for now. ~Arya

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 23, 2013

    The writing style itself was smooth and well done, but I felt so

    The writing style itself was smooth and well done, but I felt sorely disappointed about the content of the story overall. The setting was interesting enough, but the main characters fell short. They were poorly developed and disappointingly two-dimensional, and the plot "twists" were predictable and eye-rolling. At the end of the book I put it down feeling cheated, that I had wasted my time on a book with a meandering plot and no point to it.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 26, 2012

    Well written

    Well written and flows nicely but fome pearsonally i just did not get into the story

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 23, 2012

    Adult horror with intelligence

    I am not a horror reader, but ended up reading this after reading a favorable NY Times Book Review. It has an interesting story told in a literary style; not some Twilight teenage romance.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 26, 2012

    If you want to sleep

    It was real hard to get into alot of discription, not enough action

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 16, 2012

    Not twilight

    Much more for the adult reader. Graphic, both in violence and sexual nature. Interesting story, and i will be getting the next book for sure.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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