Book Reviews

[review] Hemlock – Kathleen Peacock

Release Date: May 8, 2012
Publisher: Harper Collins
Age Group: Young Adult
Pages: 400
Format: Hardcover
Source: ARC received from publisher for blog tour

Mackenzie and Amy were best friends. Until Amy was brutally murdered.

Since then, Mac’s life has been turned upside down. She is being haunted by Amy in her dreams, and an extremist group called the Trackers has come to Mac’s hometown of Hemlock to hunt down Amy’s killer: A white werewolf.

Lupine syndrome—also known as the werewolf virus—is on the rise across the country. Many of the infected try to hide their symptoms, but bloodlust is not easy to control. Wanting desperately to put an end to her nightmares, Mac decides to investigate Amy’s murder herself. She discovers secrets lurking in the shadows of Hemlock, secrets about Amy’s boyfriend, Jason, her good pal Kyle, and especially her late best friend. Mac is thrown into a maelstrom of violence and betrayal that puts her life at risk.

Tell Me More: Over the last year, I find that I’ve grown quite dismissive of most paranormal fiction, especially those with vampires and werewolves. The oversaturation of these supernatural beings have turned me into a reluctant reader, and it makes me less likely to recognize the few gems that still appear on bookshelves. Make no mistake, Hemlock is one of the precious few jewels in paranormal YA.

Hesitant as I was during the first few chapters, Kathleen Peacock’s characterization and plot were immediately captivating. Mac is a believable seventeen-year-old heroine–a bit reckless, but smart and observant all the same. She remains the grounding force for the story, which was a refreshing change from stories where everything happens to the heroine. While I had moments of impatience, I attribute that more to my own age rather than Mac being a horrible character. She is very much in control of her life, and Kathleen Peacock gives her a story worth following. Werewolves take the secondary role in this character-centric murder mystery, and while they are interesting, I was far more invested in the human aspect of this story.

Kyle dances on the edge of becoming a stereotypical love interest, but remains on the safe side throughout the story. He is romantic and dangerous and everything teen readers love about the “mysterious loner dude” (copyright Forever Young Adult). But by far, the character I was most interested in was Jason.

His position in the story is tenuous, and as the reader, you come to grasp that Jason isn’t his own person. He’s grown to be whatever the people around him want him to be–Mac and Kyle’s friend, Amy’s boyfriend, his father’s troublesome son. I got the sense that Jason has never really made a choice that was fully his. That changes, of course, but unfortunately, the events in the story don’t work the way he wants them to. In some ways, he reminds me of Marauder Era!Peter Pettigrew from Harry Potter. Mac and Kyle are clearly strong people, but Jason finds himself falling behind. His friends don’t mean to belittle him, but they do, and in that light, I can understand his frustration and helplessness. That inability to do anything useful–at least, in his opinion–leads him to some unsavoury actions and choices. He serves as a wonderful foil for Mac’s own take-charge attitude and provides a much-needed dynamic for their group of friends.

The Final Say: Hemlock will take readers on a heart-stopping ride through mysteries and paranormal surprises with characters that are so real, you can almost hear them breathing beside you.

About Kathleen

Kathleen spent most of her teen years writing short stories. She put her writing dreams on hold while attending college but rediscovered them when office life started leaving her with an allergy to cubicles.

Hemlock, her first novel, will be released on May 8th by Katherine Tegen Books/HarperCollins.

Add Hemlock on Goodreads | Follow Kathleen on Twitter @kathleenpeacock | Visit Kathleen’s website and learn more about the Hemlock trilogy | Pre-order Hemlockfrom The Book Depository

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3 replies »

  1. I’m excited to hear Hemlock is a great paranormal and isn’t just rehashing everything that’s already been done. It’s interesting that the paranormal aspects can kind of take a back seat and that you were more enthralled with the human elements. I always love stories that have great characterization, and this makes me even MORE excited to read Hemlock.

    Thanks for the great review!

  2. Like you I tend to pass over vampire and werewolf books pretty quickly. Not because I don’t love them but because so many of them just aren’t good and I don’t feel as though I can trust them anymore. However, if you say this book is good I am inclined to believe you and I think I will give it a shot. I love to be proven wrong.

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