The Last Werewolf by Glen Duncan

“For one second of clarity, I felt it all. The speed and bulk of him, the scourging claws, the meat stink of his breath, the ice of the bite and a single glimpse of the beautiful eyes - then he sprang away into the darkness and I lay winded, one arm in the rushing stream, my shirt gathering the weight of my own blood."

That was Jake Marlowe’s first moment of realizing he had just been attacked by a werewolf.

Published earlier this year, The Last Werewolf is Glen Duncan’s eighth novel and his attempt to bring classic werewolf folklore into the modern literary age. As the current story begins, 167 years have gone by since Jake involuntarily became a werewolf, and he is now the last of his kind known to be in existence.

Depressed by loneliness and bored with life after more than 200 years, Jake decides he will die during the next full moon and prepares for his fate...until his best friend and protector is murdered and he also begins to wonder, “Am I really the last werewolf in existence?”

Presented as a serious horror story, but sprinkled generously with dark humor, The Last Werewolf is well thought out and does a remarkable job of bringing werewolf folklore into the 21st century. At the beginning of one chapter, you find yourself chuckling when Jake says, “Reader, I ate him. About three hours after resolving I wouldn’t.” You understand that Jake just killed and ate a human being, yet somehow you still laugh at the blunt, sharp humor that bites at you in this section and throughout the book.

Duncan began visualizing the idea for The Last Werewolf at the end of 2008 while attending a New Year’s Eve party. His prior seven novels had received decent critical acclaim, but never any big awards or huge success, so, as said in an interview, he “vowed to try something different: a page-turner with a werewolf and none of my usual philosophical angst or moral inquiry.”

Ultimately, if you like an old-fashioned British horror story combined with a modern American twist, you will enjoy Duncan’s literary werewolf creation, which includes Jake’s encounters with vampires and the WOCOP (World Organization for the Control of Occult Phenomena), a group working to rid the world of all paranormal or occult-related phenomena. What’s really fun is that Duncan succeeds at making these seemingly ridiculous plot lines and characters feel genuine and possible.

There are some aspects of the book, however, that not everyone may like. The Last Werewolf is filled with unabashed, unapologetic sex - which werewolves seem to enjoy, a lot. It is also not a warm, fuzzy-feeling book with lovable characters, making it a bit hard to “invest in” at the very beginning. Plus, the pages drip with classic gothic gore, which may turn some stomachs.

However, if this book does sound like something you would enjoy, know that, according to Duncan, The Last Werewolf is the first release in a werewolf trilogy, with the next book hopefully coming out next year. And perhaps the second installment of the story will address one of the big questions left unanswered in the first novel: does a mysterious book really exist that explains the history of werewolves and all of their secrets? Guess we’ll have to keep reading to find out!

Video: Glen Duncan discusses and reads from The Last Werewolf

About the Author

Amy Morris

Amy Morris is a librarian technical assistant at the Westport Branch. She earned a B.A. in English, with an emphasis in creative writing, from Avila University. Besides reading and writing, Amy enjoys traveling, art, being creative, and spending time with her family.