Author: Kathleen Peacock (author website | blog)
Release Date: July 5 2012 by Simon & Schuster AUS
Age Group: Young Adult
Supernatural fan? No, not the TV show, the fuzzy and fanged kind. You’re in for a treat—Deadly Hemlock, or simply 'Hemlock' as Americans will know it, may just be the best you read this year. Kathleen Peacock offers it all: The supernatural, a spine-chilling murder-mystery and the kind of romance that makes your heart skip a beat. Been there, done that? Yes, but Peacock does it well.
Mackenzie and Amy were best friends. Until Amy was brutally murdered.
Since then, Mac’s life has been turned upside down. She is being haunted by Amy in her dreams, and an extremist group called the Trackers has come to Mac’s hometown of Hemlock to hunt down Amy’s killer: A white werewolf.
Lupine syndrome—also known as the werewolf virus—is on the rise across the country. Many of the infected try to hide their symptoms, but bloodlust is not easy to control.
Wanting desperately to put an end to her nightmares, Mac decides to investigate Amy’s murder herself. She discovers secrets lurking in the shadows of Hemlock, secrets about Amy’s boyfriend, Jason, her good pal Kyle, and especially her late best friend. Mac is thrown into a maelstrom of violence and betrayal that puts her life at risk.
Kathleen Peacock’s thrilling novel is the first in the Hemlock trilogy, a spellbinding urban fantasy series filled with provocative questions about prejudice, trust, lies, and love.
The StoryIn an America shaken by the discovery that werewolves do, in fact, exist, there is a political war taking place. Those infected with Lupine Syndrome have no civil rights. At the first sign of infection, they are required to register, and are promptly shipped off to government-run Nazi-Germany-style concentration camps. Fear and suspicion run just beneath the surface, and when a police-backed neo-Nazi-turned-werewolf-hunter organisation, the Trackers, arrive in the town of Hemlock, things turn truly ugly.
It’s the arrival of the Trackers that prove a catalyst for change. Mac has tried to move on since her best friend was murdered by a werewolf, but as the violent werewolf-hunters arrive in town to investigate a new death, Mac’s world falls apart all over again. Innately distrustful of Trackers, and haunted by the ghost of her dead friend—though whether Amy is truly a spirit, or a mental projection is left delightfully ambiguous—Mac decides to takes matters into her own hands and find the killer. What she finds instead is a complicated web of lies, political power-games and secrets.
My ThoughtsDetermined to uncover the truth of her best friends’ brutal death, and force the Trackers to leave town, our heroine, Mac, is a truly fascinating lead. Peacock achieves a faultless balance between physical limitation and keen intelligence. Mac certainly gets herself in too deep, but she’s not your typical damsel in distress. Able to hotwire a car and jimmy a lock since she was a pre-teen, she’s resilient and resourceful, stubborn and fiercely protective of those she loves. And she does love: It would be amiss of me to continue without touching on the bittersweet, slow-burn romance that develops between Mac and one of her closest friends: There’s earnestness and realism to the relationship and it’s a delight watching something grow from a very real and genuine friendship.
And it’s not just the friendships and romance that are such a delight. There’s a rich world of characters in Hemlock. From friends and family to acquaintances and colleagues, the extensive cast is never confusing, but adds layers of depth to Mac’s world. But where Deadly Hemlock truly shines is its depth of world building and attention to the bigger picture. Using the small town of Hemlock as a paradigm, Peacock presents a country being overtaken by fear, paranoia and hatred. She examines bigotry, human nature and radicalism in a way one would expect to find in a dystopian fantasy, not a sleepy-town paranormal. A government bending to the will of extremist voices, the media spreading fear faster the Lupine virus itself, and knee-jerk political reactions all feel eerily familiar, and add to Deadly Hemlock’s pervasive sense of unrest and unease. There's a bleakness and hopelessness to Mac’s story at times, but it's unsurprising in a story dealing with grief and death, and the loss of young, promising life. What are surprising are the pop-culture references, from music to film, and, as Peacock herself shares, literature, spattering its pages and adding moments of delightful humour.
The wonderful characters, the frightening politics, all lead to the heart of Deadly Hemlock: the puzzle of Amy’s murder. It’s rare to find such a tense, tightly plotted mystery, yet Peacock kept me guessing with ‘whos’ and ‘whys’ never quite falling into place till the breathless, heartbreaking end.
The VerdictKathleen Peacock’s debut is a remarkable creature indeed. With an extraordinary depth of world building, she brings something exciting and new to her genre. Filled with dangerous secrets and vicious lies, every inch of the town of Hemlock feels real and comes alive, reating a depth that elevates Deadly Hemlock beyond simple supernatural love-story to something richer, vaster and rendering it utterly engrossing. Paranormal fans, rejoice! Chilling, riveting, and beautifully imagined, Deadly Hemlock is an unmissable debut.
Books in This Series:
- Deadly Hemlock (Hemlock in US) (2012)
- As yet unamed sequel (Expected 2013)