Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Deadly Hemlock (Hemlock #1), Kathleen Peacock

Title: Deadly Hemlock (Hemlock in US)
Author: Kathleen Peacock (author website | blog)
Release Date: July 5 2012 by Simon & Schuster AUS
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Paranormal
My Rating:1 star2 star3 star4 starhalf star

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.

From Goodreads:
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 Story

In 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 Thoughts

Determined 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 Verdict

Kathleen 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:

  1. Deadly Hemlock (Hemlock in US) (2012)
  2. As yet unamed sequel (Expected 2013)
An enormous thank you to Simon & Schuster Australia for providing a review copy of Deadly Hemlock!

49 comments:

  1. I love the sound of this one. The richness of the world has me excited. I love getting invested in a world like that! Great review, Sarah :)

    Hafsah - IceyBooks

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    1. Thansk so much, Hafsah! I really, REALLY enjoyed this one, and the world ♥

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  2. Great review, Sarah! I wasn't WOWed by this book but it was still an alright, nice read. It'll be interesting what the sequel will be like next year. Looking forward to it.

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    1. Thanks, Erin! Eeeee! Seriously, I kind of want to poke around in your head... in... err... a note creepy way.
      But seriously, I really love that you're never afraid to say what you think of a book, and I LOVE hearing why. I really, REALLY likes this one, but sorry you didn't! Sequel should be VERY interesting.

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  3. Ah! Everyone seems to love this. I'm really looking forward to reading it! Sounds like the book isn't what anyone expects so I'm very curious. Glad you enjoyed it, Sarah! Great review :)

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    1. Liiiiisa! That's because it's GOOD! *BOUNCES*
      Seriously, I SO hope you like it! I think you will... *crosses fingers*

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  4. Yay, I'm glad to see that you liked this one! It's one of the better YA werewolf stories I have read the last year, and I am really excited for the sequel!:)

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    1. YES YES YES! SOOOO excited for the sequel! ♥

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  5. :D Yayzers! So happy to see you really enjoyed this one, Sarah! :3 Ahhh, personally, werewolves are NOT my thing. I tried the Shiver series and multiple other books in the werewolf genre (is that even a genre?!) and it just didn't jive with me. :P Apparently, a LOT of people are raving about this particular book, and the way you make it sound, who wouldn't? I seriously DIE whenever I read a good romance that makes me swoon, and apparently this romance is AWESOME SAUCE. :D

    And eeeep! "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."?! YOU HAVE ME SOLD THERE. I hate it when I can figure out the mystery from the start. >-> It's just... just no.

    Ahhh, lovely lovely LOVELY review, Sarah! You always make your reviews sound so mature and have that air of elegance about it. *---* It's SO cool, I'm like green jelly over here. c: <3

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    1. Geeeeeee, I EFFING LOVED IT ^__^
      Ooooh, you know, I really loved the Shiver books, but I think each their own... I think here... werewolves aren't romanticised... and it's not a book about wolves so much as it is about the fear of them, and it's viewed as a virus and... then again, it is in Shiver, too... I'd be really interested to see if this one worked out for you!

      Seriously, the things you do to my ego. NOT GOOD :P
      *hugs you*
      Thank you Thank you Thank you! ♥

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  6. Awesome review, Sarah! I've been wanting to read this one for awhile now but your review would have sold me even if I hadn't. I love the mix of politics and mystery and romance and paranormal. How exciting!

    -Lauren

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    1. Aw, thanks Lauren! I seriously think it's one of the best paranormals in terms of just... well, quality I've read. Brilliant! ♥

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  7. I have a copy of this and can't work out why I haven't read it yet. It sounds fantastic and everyone seems to love it! Great world-building, wonderful characters and a good romance... my type of book. ;) Lovely review!

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    1. Isn't it odd how that happens sometimes? I've had books wind up being all time favorites, that, for one reason or another, sat dusty on my shelves for MONTHS beforehand. I REALLY hope you like this one, Sam! xx

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  8. This sounds great! Haha, the protag sounds brilliant. ;) I love that there's great world-building in there, otherwise I probably wouldn't enjoy it much. Brilliant review, Sarah! :)

    -Aa'Ishah

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    1. I LOVED this one, Aa'Ishah! Thanks! xx

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  9. Whoa, you changed your layout! I like it!

    I love that Mac is a fascinating lead. Too often in these paranormal/supernatural books, the lead isn't very compelling. It really seems like an engrossing world with great characters. Also yeees to pop culture references.

    Beautiful review. :)

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    1. You are the VERY first person to notice! I kind of just removed the photo banner and added the shadow and nav ribbon thingy :) Thanks, Elena! ♥

      It really was the greater world that did it for me in this one... I mean, you establish a real world, this well imagined, and the characters' movements within it have so much more depth and context, and seriously... I'ma start fangirling. I LOVED this one!

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  10. You liked it too? **Sighs** Alright. ALRIGHT! It's going on my to-read list. Is it possible to crash Goodreads when your to-read list gets too big? Because if it is, I'm sure I'm going to be doing it soon. Lol.

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    1. Oh, Natalie, SERIOUSLY.
      If you like YA paranormal, it's a must-read. It's SO good, and I just... I just ENJOYED it, you know? FABULOUS.

      AND HELL YES TO YOUR GR TBR >___<
      I can't cope with it. SO SO many books, and there's just nowhere near enough time in the day :(

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  11. I enjoyed this book too! It felt so Veronica Mars to me & I loved that show

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    1. YESSSS! I love the whole girl-detective trope! Seriously loved this--so glad you did, too!

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  12. Fantastic review, as always! I really enjoyed Hemlock. I was most amazed by the frightening realistic political portrayal of a society ruled by fear. Can't wait for book two.

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    1. Thanks Andrea! "I was most amazed by the frightening realistic political portrayal of a society ruled by fear." THIS! EXACTLY!

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  13. OMG YESSSSS! YESSSSS!!! I completely agree with everything you said in your review, Sarah! At first, I really liked the idea of Jason and Amy but then as the book goes, I definitely rooted for Kyle and Amy! Kyle was AMAZING and *sobs* THE ENDING! ME NEED SEQUEL NOW!

    Anyway, awesome review AS ALWAYS, Sarah! ♥

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    1. KYYYYYYLE! I mean, as you get further into it, the romance just becomes so... right... and once he kind of stops keeping his secrets and shares himself with her? YESSSS.
      BUT OFMG. I wanted to smack him for dating the batshit crazy chick. EVERYTHING could have been avoided if he'd just spoken up about the way he bloody well felt! *hits him on head with saucepan*

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  14. EEEEEEEEEEEE! This one sounds good. I haven't heard of it before now. But you scare me with the heartbreaking ending. You know I hate those.

    I am such a wimp!

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    1. I think... I mean, there's hope in this one, in the same way there is in... say... the end of Halfway to the Grave... but it's not as crushing as that. I think you'll like it :D

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  15. This sounds GOOD (especially since you were babbling on about how amazing it is and that your in awe of it)! I'm looking forward to meet Mac as she sounds intriguing... :) And it seems that EVERYONE is loving this one, so I'm hoping that when I read it I will too! Fab review, lovely!

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  16. Awesome review, Sarah! You have me all excited to read this now, it sounds amazing! Really looking forward to digging into it myself. Cheers for the review!

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  17. A girl who can hotwire a car?? Awesome! I am so there. I'm usually pretty dense with things like symbolism so I hope it'll be one I can "get" I have to say I completely a werewolf girl in the paranormal stakes!

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  18. Um, you had me at Mac being able to HOTWIRE A CAR. Well no, you had me way before then, but she sounds COOL. And independent and STRONG. I love how you describe her and I LOVE how you paint a picture of the society in Hemlock, Kathleen has clearly dug DEEP and explored every layer. It sounds RICH, in the politics, mystery, structure and the characters, friendships and... slow-burn romance? My FAVOURITE kind!

    I AM SO EFFING EXCITED TO START MY COPY. I'M BUMPING IT UP ON MY TBR TO: VERY SOON. AMDJSFDNJGDZING REVIEW, SARAH!

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    1. SERIOUSLY... OK, so I may grabbing out, like, smaller parts of her character, but OMFG I LOVED THIS BOOK SO MUCHHHHH. And the world. THE W O R L D. THAT is what makes this book so unbeffinglievablymazing.

      And the romance. THE ROMANCE. BRODIE. IT'S SO SWEET. AND HEART-ACHY *sighs*

      *fangirls some more*
      *runs off to plot timetravel so I can have the sequel now now now*

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  19. Oh crap my dear!!
    I have no CLUE why I havent read this book yet T_T... plus the author is Canadian. Shame on Me!! However, now Im totally sold! I love your review and I rejoice for having such a consistent new paranormal read with rich world building and characters. My dear, Im SO gonna read this one this summer! hell yeah!

    thnx for sharing!
    take care over there ^_^ muah!!!

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    1. Oh, Natalia, it's GREAT! And I SO didn't know it was a Canadian! I really think (AND HOPE) you'll like it! &hearts'

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    2. Oh holy cow.. Im SO gonna break my piggy to get this one! aaaaaaaah!!

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  20. Sarah! I think I have to stop reading your reviews or something, because I always end up saying, "omgiwantitineeditrightnow" and my bank account hates me.
    But...fabulous heroine and slow-burn romance and fantastic world-building and those themes and pop-culture references. ALEX WANTS.
    But I'm with Jennifer - heartbreaking ending? Oh noes!

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    1. Ahahaha! Oh goodness, I know that feeling ALL too well. Shall we talk about a certain someone's top ten of all? Hmmmm? I DIE.

      But seriously, I LOVED this one! ♥

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  21. Fab review, Sarah! I really like the sound of Mac and I keep picturing her as Mac from VMars! I also really like the idea of the werewolf thing being a virus and part of our world. This sounds like a book I need to read, STAT!

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    1. AAAH! NOW YOU'VE SAID MAC I CAN'T GET HER OUT OF MY HEAD! The actress who plays her just turned up in True Blood--I was so excited :D

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  22. Wow! Awesome review Sarah! I haven't read this yet but you make me wanna as soon as possible--I wanna learn about this world!

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    1. Thanks so much, Rach! I hope you love ♥

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  23. That's it, I'm buying Hemlock this weekend. I've seen too many great reviews on it and yours sealed the deal for me. ♥

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    1. SQUEEEEEEEE! JENN! I don't think you'll be dissapointed--it's GOOD!

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    2. I totally bought it immediately after I posted this LOL!

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  24. You already know I like this review, but I thought I'd remind you: I like this review :)

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    1. Hehehe, and we've already clarified it was the wrong review, but thanks XD

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  25. What a great review! I need to read this, really soon! You made it sound really good!

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  26. Great review Sarah! This sounds like a great book and I have been hearing amazing things about it! :D

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