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Sunday, October 11, 2009

'Howling at the Moon' by Karen MACINERNEY

It had been a heck of a day. My mom was in jail for murder. For the first time, I’d seen and been identified by another werewolf – a gorgeous one, to be sure, but still a werewolf. And let’s not forget the cute little poem on my desk, which meant somebody was about to let the cat – or in this case, the wolf – out of the bag. (page 32)

Sophie Garou is a 28-year-old accountant living in Austin, Texas. She’s a normal girl with a fantastic lawyer boyfriend called Heath, a slightly eccentric occult mother, a penchant for Kate Spade handbags and once a month she turns into a werewolf. Sophie’s mother enjoyed a year long Paris rendezvous with a handsome werewolf who had to split once Sophie was born, never to be seen or heard from again. As a result Sophie is totally in the dark about her wolfy side – she drinks wolfsbane to control her changes and limit them to once a month, she could buy stock in Gilette razors and she’s never actually met another werewolf. Until one day she drives by a very scrumptious male werewolf on the street, who holds her gaze and leaves her panting. But she doesn’t get a chance to dwell on sexy fantasies, because her mother has been hauled to jail, accused of poisoning and killing a councilman with her love potion. And on top of all that, someone is sending Sophie wolfsbane and silver bullets.

This book was all pretty so-so for me. It’s not a terribly original Urban Fantasy plotline – urban werewolf tries to retain normalcy and humanity without letting her nearest and dearest see her hairy side. The stakes are heightened by the subplot about her mother being accused of murder and the anonymous care-packages that could blow-the-lid on her secret identity. But Karen MacInerney doesn’t utilize the subplots – and instead has Sophie waddling along, trying to prove her mother’s innocence with gumshoe detective work that ends up dragging.

The other half of the plot is supposed to be the ‘romance’ centered around the mysterious werewolf Sophie spots on the street. But MacInerney let’s that drag into boredom too. Sophie spends more time lusting after Tom than spending any actual time with him. Her lustful fantasies are legitimized by the fact that it’s close to the equinox and her time of the month, so there’s a certain animal magnetism. I can see that the author has tried to make Tom a bit of an enigma; he drops little hints to Sophie about him being packless, a ‘lone wolf’ and a gun for hire in the werewolf community. MacInerney also repeatedly describes Tom’s bulging biceps, golden hair and snug-fitting jeans, in an attempt to justify Sophie’s fascination. But it all falls flat; Tom is interesting and as a reader I wanted to read more about him, but MacInerney wrote so few scenes with him and Sophie interacting that all the lustful build-up was for nothing. I was so sure all of Sophie’s fantasizing about Tom was leading to a heated confrontation – I was thoroughly disappointed when it all came to nothing but two kisses.

I’ll admit extensive reading of the genre has turned me into an Urban Fantasy snob. A UF connoisseur, if you will. ‘Howling at the Moon’ just doesn’t live up to other books in its genre. Carrie Vaughn does it better with her ‘Kitty Norville’ series, and Patricia Briggs does it best with ‘Mercy Thompson’.



  1. Danielle,

    I have not read this series - but I have them on my wish list at paperbackswap. Thanks for your review - now I'm glad I didn't buy them - I'd rather wait and get them from pbs - that way if I don't like it - I'm only out a book credit and not $8. :)


  2. Thanks for the honest review - I hate it when the author hints at so much but doesn't deliver.


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