Review: Hemlock by Kathleen Peacock

Publication Date: May 8th, 2012
Format: Hardback, 404 pages
Katherine Tegen Books
RATING: 4 out of 5 Stars
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.

Reeling from the recent gruesome death of her best friend, Mac is struggling to find peace. As Amy’s ghost haunt her dreams, her remaining circle of friends seemed to be growing apart. Jason, Amy’s boyfriend is on a downward spiral, while Kyle, Mac’s best friend harbors secrets that involve his clingy ex. But the terror of the citizens of Hemlock is also far from over as wolf attacks persist.  A group of radical werewolves hunters moved in, bringing in extreme views and questionable methods enough to rival the terrors incited by the werewolves themselves. Suddenly, Mac is thrust right in the thick of it all as she tries to save Jason from himself and Kyle from his secrets.

Just when I had my fill of werewolves, Hemlock proves that once again, I really shouldn’t say, NEVER again to the call of these mythical creatures. Kathleen Peacock’s initial offering to her Hemlock trilogy was a fantastic set-up to what promises to be an addictive series. Admittedly, this book has been on my radar since I got wind of it. And let me tell you, I wasn’t disappointed.

From a cast of fascinating, well-developed characters, sweet and mostly angst-ridden romance, Hemlock is a novel that had me completely obsessed. For once in my ever-loving life, I actually looked forward to what promises to be a difficult love triangle among the three characters. I say difficult, because I was truthfully torn between the two male leads in the book. And while I’m pervasively into bad boys, Kyle’s sweet disposition had me re-thinking all the reasons why I loved misunderstood bad boys to begin with. But Jason’s brooding, angry outlook in life reels me back in, soaking in all his dark glory. I predict that this love triangle will give me future headaches and not for the usual reasons that I abhor this type of romance. Kathleen Peacock achieved the impossible; she had me checking all my prejudices about werewolves and the dreadful love triangles at the door.

I must admit that I don’t readily accept a reality where mythical creatures exist. I question the whys and the hows – the genesis of the world in the book, if I may. But I was quite satisfied with the premise that it all began with a disease – the lupine syndrome. I liked the ambience that Kathleen conceived in Hemlock. The rabid wolves have the serial killers quality that had me imagining a city on a lockdown at the first sign of trouble. I also loved that not all werewolves were created equal; there were some who constantly battled themselves to fight off the monster within.

The eventual killer in the book was a surprise! I never saw it coming for sure. It almost broke my heart when the culprit was revealed.

The only problem I had with this book is the heroine’s predisposition to face the problems head on, all by her brave self. Yes, it’s a characteristic typical of a hero/heroine in a novel but at times, I couldn’t help but question her state of mind. Sometimes, her justification for not asking someone’s help bordered on stupidity. One thing’s for sure, her courage goes deep and more often, beyond her capacity. But I guess that’s rarely a bad thing, isn’t it? Regardless, I absolutely loved MacKenzie – a refreshing character lacking in fear, fiercely loyal, and an overall admirable heroine.

VERDICT: Mystery, suspense, action, and a realistic, addictive romance guaranteed to torment, Hemlock is a fantastic debut tackling a tired paranormal myth. But don’t fret, this book has some twists that will sure to surprise you.

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