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Monday, October 3, 2011

Things Get Hairy: New Book Series — Wereworld

Courtesy Penguin Books
Wereworld, Book I: Rise of the Wolf
by Curtis Jobling

Here we have one of those books that adult readers may feel a bit sheepish about reading in public. Just look at that cover. No arty lupine silhouettes here, like on the passably sophisticated covers of Maggie Stiefvater’s brooding teenage werewolf stories. This is full-on, in-your-face lycanthrope action — the kind of illustration that, at age ten, would have had me trembling in anticipation of the complete and total awesomeness that obviously waited within those pages. As an adult, however… well, let’s just say I might get some odd looks. Especially since Fifth-Grade Me was right: Wereworld is a blast — and I probably had a stupidly giddy grin on my face while reading it.

Quite surprisingly, the story comes from Curtis Jobling, who up until now has been best known as the designer behind preschool TV’s favorite plow whisperer, Bob the Builder. Whatever you may know about Bob doesn't apply here, though. Jobling has revealed his feral alter-ego to present us with a fantasy-horror-action mash-up that takes place in a pseudo-medieval world where the ruling nobility are all shape-shifters. The tale's hero, Drew, is the last of the werewolves, a clan thought to have been killed off by the despotic werelion king. Yes, this world has all sorts of werecreatures — werebears, wereboars, even wereotters. Following Drew’s quest to uncover his heritage and eventually begin a rebellion against the tyrant (I love that the traditionally noble lions are the worst of the lot here), the book moves at a breakneck pace from one battle/chase/escape scene to another, but with very nice character development woven into the action.

Granted, Wereworld caters to a very specific taste. There’s some seriously bloody violence (throat-rippings and the like) and a surprising amount of pantslessness (well, they are werewolves after all). This is sword-and-sorcery epic and creepy monster-tale woven into one. It might be a tad much for some readers, but I was certainly left — please forgive me for this — howling for more.

Best for: Anyone who gets excited (either openly or secretly) by that cover; Lord of the Rings fans disappointed by the lack of lycanthropes in the series; people who would have liked to see Remus Lupin get his own spin-off; anyone curious to see how the Bob the Builder guy handles bloody maulings

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