The Last Werewolf by Glen Duncan
Prior to The Last Werewolf by Glen Duncan, my experience with lycanthropic novels consisted of Al Sarrantonio’s Moonbane, a book about werewolves from outer space crash landing on earth in meteorites and conspiring to blow up the moon. However, Lon Chaney Jr.’s Wolfman was my second favorite movie monster as a child (behind The Creature from the Black Lagoon) and I did briefly collect the comic book series Werewolf by Night, so I do have some history of interest in the subject.
This novel begins with Jake Marlowe being told he is the last werewolf in the world, and that the World Organization for the Control of Occult Phenomena (WOCOP) will be turning their full attention toward finding and killing him during the next full moon. Jake, over 200 years old, is initially resigned to his fate, but events quickly become more complicated, conspiring to rekindle his interest in life.
Jake Marlowe is evil in a way that poor Larry Talbot or David Kessler might have become had they learned to live with their curse. His entire persona is shaped around the fact that once every full moon he must murder at least one person in the most gruesome and intimate way possible. When Jake is not hunting and devouring people, a long and brutal life has left him caring for little besides staying off WOCOP’s radar, writing his memoirs, drinking, smoking, and having sex with prostitutes. The rest of the novel’s cast consists of the aforementioned prostitutes, elderly familiars, werewolf hunters, vampires, mad scientists and occult collectors. The least vile of the supporting cast is at best morally challenged, yet like the protagonist, all are engaging and at least to some degree sympathetic.
The novel’s setting is a deep, dark, violent place. The narrative is at times heavy with graphic violence and sex. While the plot sticks close to Jake’s trials, and his philosophical musings about them, we are given many teases and hints of the world in which he lives. Vampires, immortals who amusingly smell of fecal matter and rotting meat, become interested in Jake’s survival. The fabled origin of the werewolves, long thought lost to history, comes into play, and a variety of other abominations, such as demons, receive some passing mention. If I had one major frustration with this novel, it was the feeling I was missing other stories taking place in this world that were at least as interesting as the one I was reading.
The Last Werewolf is a highly engaging, adult read full of supernatural creatures that are in no way dreamy, romantic, or sparkly. Horror fans, used to the blood, should have an excellent time with this novel.