I received a complimentary copy of this from Netgalley via Knopf Doubleday. This was a very difficult review for me to write. Its hard to write reviews of books that you have conflicted feelings about.
There is something amoral about Glen Duncan’s books, which is not necessarily a bad thing. His last book, The Last Werewolf, was exceedingly cynical to the extent where the book became a very onerous read. Except, each time I tried to read it; there would be intervals of feeling slight awe at the writer’s impressive prose, and the sheer realism of the werewolf’s perspective. Eventually, the book quickly became bloated with some truly nauseating details about the werewolf’s insatiable lust problems. These details were very gratuitous and often became very convoluted at parts. At this point, I find myself once again wrestling with the novel: Do I really enjoy this? Believe me, I’m definitely not a prude, and I can handle sexual content that ultimately serves an artistic purpose. I do think the term “gratuitous” is applicable to both The Last Werewolf and its sequel Tallula Rising. Both books ultimately are very taxing reads that leaves the reader feeling very disenchanted. I never reviewed the first one because I felt deeply ambivalent about the book, and this is even more difficult. There is something markedly absent in Glen Duncan’s writing that keeps me from feeling fully engaged with his stories.
One of the strong points of this book lies again with the prose, which reflects an author who can easily envisage the complexity of the psyche of a werewolf with preternatural senses. Except, reading Tallulla Rising quickly becomes drudgery, once the author begins tackling a rather contrived plot that is not anywhere near as interesting as the paradoxical ruminations of the werewolf characters. In this book, Tallula realistically dwells over the implications of being pregnant with Jake’s baby, her deceased werewolf lover. Both the confused grief surrounding his death, and the anxiety over whether she can emotionally provide for her werewolf offspring combine to provide truly tense, contradictory feelings about the impending birth. It is this deep character development that I feel Glen Duncan is a master at and it was these small pockets of genius that made me wish that the overall plot was not so lackluster. It was these moments that made me say “Wow!” to myself, and it made me keep reading in hopes that these peaks of genius would return.
Nonetheless, most of the book kept me imprisoned in the apathetic zone. I feel like the main werewolf characters are in fact too prodigious that the thin plot cannot sustain them, and the auxiliary characters quickly become mere utilities to help expedite the main character’s journey. Moreover,the sex descriptions are also very tiresome and puerile as well; they don’t seem to serve some ultimate purpose of further developing the characters or plot. Maybe, my main problem with the writing is that I’m not a very big fan of books that are often far too limited by one perspective. I really do need some kinda of balance in order to fully enjoy a novel.
Again, I’m sure there are many fans of this book that are in disagreement: this book just might not be my type of read. I normally like a book with a bit more panache or witticism; I love plots that are equally as complex as the characters themselves. That is a very hard balance for any author to strike. Again, it is very commendable of Glen Duncan to treat werewolves as a literary creature that is worthy of sophistication. This author is definitely a very erudite individual, and some of his insights about the human psyche are similar to that of Dorris Lessing. (I don’t really like Dorris Lessing’s books, but I love her short stories and insights into the human psyche. Her writing is ponderous…) I would cautiously recommend this book by saying that it really is not meant for everyone, but you might find yourself liking it. If you like werewolves, that is really not a good enough reason to really like this book. I don’t normally like recommendations based solely on such petty considerations anyways. Personally, I think there are many stronger werewolf books that have much more interesting plots and less convoluted prose out there. For those who end up enjoying this, I hope you’re able to find something that I didn’t seem to find while reading this. In the end, I find myself desiring to read an Anne Rice book for her excellent plots that always compliment her deeply developed characters. (Both authors are not exactly comparable at all writing style wise ,therefore; its not a very fair comparison) I implore you to read it for yourself, and decide whether this book is for you or not!