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Sunday, March 13, 2016

'Who's Afraid?' by Maria Lewis


From the BLURB:

Meet Tommi Grayson: she's all bark . . . and all bite

'It was like my wolf had been there all along, waiting for me to tap its hand and step into the ring . . .'

Tommi Grayson's never exactly been a normal girl. Bright blue hair, a mysterious past and barely controlled rage issues have a way of making a woman stand out. Yet she's never come close to guessing who she really is . . .

When her mother dies, a shattered Tommi decides to track down her estranged father. Leaving Scotland for a remote corner of New Zealand, she discovers the truth of her heritage - and it's a whole lot more than merely human.

Barely escaping with her life, now Tommi must return to her her friends, pretending everything is normal, while all too aware of the dangers lurking outside - and within. Worse still, something has followed her home . . .

With the clock ticking, can Tommi learn to control her new powers in time to save the ones she loves?

Mixing elements of fantasy, mystery and romance, Who's Afraid? is a must-read tale about one woman who takes on the world, one bite at a time

Who’s Afraid?’ is the debut urban fantasy novel from Australian author, Maria Lewis.

Holy guacamole, Wolverine – I loved this book. I loved it from that clever title (echoes of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Gettit?!) right to the last page that sent me on a frantic internet search to see when a sequel would be coming (Who’s Afraid Too? – no release date yet, but I’m already salivating at the very notion!). I loved this book so much that I’m actually reviewing this after re-reading it … because it came out in January, but it’s taken me this long to really collect my thoughts and direct my enthusiasm into a halfway coherent review.

First and foremost – there was always a high chance I would love this book because werewolf stories are kinda my bag, baby. I mean – Alpha Reader is an ode to the werewolf stories that sparked my love of all things urban fantasy and paranormal romance way back when… which also means I have a pretty high-standard when it comes to my werewolf books: Patricia Briggs, Anne Bishop, Kelley Armstrong, and Charlaine Harris are the pinnacles of my werewolfish love and I’m here to tell you – Maria Lewis is now up there with them.

What made this book even better for me was getting to read the werewolf legend in a New Zealand setting – a departure from the typical North America of modernised urban fantasy, or its European gothic origins. Lewis actually ties heroine – Tommi Grayson’s – discovery of her werewolf origins to the discovery of her estranged Maori father, which had smart echoes of Mercy Thompson’s Native American shapeshifter origins for me. But Tommi hasn’t just discovered she’s a werewolf, she’s also discovered a family she never knew she had – a highly dysfunctional and dangerous family (and that’s before they grow teeth and claws!) The family element makes for a tight twist on what’s almost a coming-of-age narrative, adding a layer of psychological warfare to the werewolf origin story.

While an important chunk of the story takes place in New Zealand (and I look forward to how Maori elements present in future instalments) Tommi actually lives in Scotland, and manages to escape home – largely thanks to a mysterious guardian looking out for Tommi, a man named Lorcan. If I had any complaints about this book they’re minimal and understandable – this being the first in a series (a series that has real longevity, I can already read) means there are times when world-building comes close to info-dumping, often communicated through Lorcan’s character. But this is urban fantasy and I’m always pretty lenient for the sake of learning about this new world – especially when it’s a world as intriguing as the one Lewis has created.

Look, going into this book you should know that Lewis knows her stuff – she’s a bit of a paranormal, pop-culture connoisseur (and you should definitely follow her on Twitter btw) and she totally delivers the type of book I can only assume she herself wanted to read. The werewolf element is complex and horror-filled, there’s romance set to simmer and a gutsy, flawed heroine you’ll definitely want to follow into sequel …

One of the most anticipated urban fantasies of recent years, Maria Lewis' 'Who's Afraid' and heroine Tommi absolutely live up to the hype. New Zealand werewolves, complicated family history, romance, danger and a new paranormal world to fall in love with. It's 'Underworld' meets 'Animal Kingdom', in a taut psychological family drama, made all the more intense and captivating for the fact that this family has more than metaphorical claws and teeth.

5/5

1 comment:

  1. Love your review! I keep seeing this on bookshelves and wondering if I should give it a go. I guess now I will!

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