The Last Werewolf by Glen Duncan
You’re the last. I’m sorry. The end is coming.
For two centuries Jacob Marlowe has wandered the world, enslaved by his lunatic appetites and tormented by the memory of his first monstrous crime. Now, the last of his kind, he knows he can’t go on. But as Jake counts down to suicide, a violent murder and an extraordinary meeting plunge him straight back into the desperate pursuit of life.
I have to admit that I approached this novel with a certain amount of caution. I read one of the author’s earlier novels – I, Lucifer – a few years ago and didn’t really enjoy it. That said, I am always willing to give a writer the opportunity to win me over so I decided to take a chance and include The Last Werewolf during this month’s werewolf themed shenanigans.
Jacob ‘Jake’ Marlowe is a fascinating character. He has lived as a werewolf for nearly two hundred years and is horrified at the prospect of living the same length of time over again. He has tried to make amends for the terrible things that does when he changes, but it has reached the point when he knows that this is no longer enough. Jake freely admits that he is a monster, and wants nothing more than to end the suffering he inflicts on others when he goes through his monthly transformation.
‘I keep telling myself I’m just an outmoded idea. But you know, you find yourself ripping a child open and swallowing its heart, it’s tough not to be overwhelmed by…the concrete reality of yourself’.
He has seen it all, and done it all, and at the very moment he is committed to ending his life, he glimpses the chance to change everything. This sends the rest of the novel off in a direction I wasn’t expecting.
In the alternate Earth that Glen Duncan has created, supernatural beings exist and are policed by a sinister group called the World Organisation for the Control of Occult Phenomena (WOCOP). The general populace is unaware of WOCOP’s actions and goes about their business blissfully ignorant of this organisation’s shadowy existence.
Another group that plays an important part in Jake’s story are the vampires. They live in secretive highly structured families, and are the natural enemy of the werewolf. There are some nice touches in the description of this relationship. Vampires are obsessed with control, and look down on werewolves due to their bestial nature. For the vampires, unsurprisingly, blood is everything while werewolves give into their more base emotions. Jake’s mantra being F**k ,Kill, Eat.
The wonderfully tantalizing snippets that Duncan drops into the narrative about these two groups touching Jake’s life, left me wanting to know more. For example, the leader of the WOCOP team that is hunting Jake, Grainer, is not really fleshed out in any great depth. I appreciate that this is primarily Jake’s story but it would have been nice to learn more about his arch nemesis.
That small gripe aside, I did enjoy The Last Werewolf a great deal, certainly more than I, Lucifer. Jake spends a lot of the novel detailing his long life and the series of events that have lead him to where he is. The reader gets a genuine sense of his angst and the sorrow that he feels. Despite him being written as an irrefutable monster, I was surprised how much I found myself empathizing with his situation. Duncan has a writing style that lends itself well to describing the uncontrollable hunger that Jake suffers. If you are looking for a modern, adult take on the horror of the werewolf, this is definitely the place to start.