A stunning tale that turns the genre on its head despite literary contortions and acrobatics.
Jacob Marlowe has been a werewolf for one hundred sixty-seven years (a fact he keeps repeating throughout the book) and is about two hundred years old. He has made his mark, accumulated a vast fortune, and has no wish to continue the allotted four hundred years of a werewolf’s life. Marlowe knows the Hunt has killed the rest of his kind. He is the last and he is ready to return to the site of his creation and welcome the Hunters. His friend and familiar, Harley, wants Marlowe to go on living and Marlowe simply wants out. There is nothing left to live for and life feels pointless.
Grainer, the lead Hunter, plans to take Marlowe out personally. Marlowe killed Grainer’s father many years ago and both are ready for the showdown of their lives.
The vampires want Marlowe as well and it will be a race to the finish to see who wins the prize in the end. The difference between vampires and werewolves is all about language. Vampires speak and read and werewolves do neither, except for Jacob Marlowe.
As in The Last Werewolf, Marlowe and Glen Duncan share the same problem, too many words. Add several different writing techniques—lack of punctuation, run-on sentences, stream of consciousness, literary acrobatics—and the result is a mish-mash of styles in an episodic tale that takes a considerable amount of time getting to the point. Duncan’s writing is at times pompous and overwrought as he flexes his literary muscles, much like a bodybuilder posing in front of a mirror.
I considered tossing the book a few times, but Duncan surprised me by throwing a curve and I was off again chasing Marlowe and trying to figure out who was playing whom. As frustrating as the writing is at times, Duncan tells a compelling story and, when he sinks his teeth into it, does so with breathtaking speed.
The Last Werewolf takes the mythology of lycanthropy, throws in vampires, who loathe werewolves as much as werewolves loathe them, becoming physically sick in each other's presence, but need them to conquer their last frontier. The result is an exercise in planned obsolescence and science that fuels a race to the finish, leaving an ending that offers a satisfying sense of hope and promise. Duncan uses the werewolf mythology to good effect, penning a stand-out novel in an overflowing genre rife with copycats and the same-old, same-old.