We meet Jake Marlowe in a fairly fragile state. First off, he is a werewolf, and has been one for an incredibly long time (think the “how long have you been seventeen?” line from Twilight without the cringe-factor). He has just been informed by his close friend and confidant Harley that he is in fact the last werewolf alive on the planet, and the leader of the World Organisation for the Control of Occult Phenomena (WOCOP) is hell-bent on ridding the world of werewolves once and for all at the next full moon. Tired, drained and fed up of living, Jake willingly accepts his impending demise, much to Harley’s dismay. Jake’s inner thoughts on the seemingly pointless and futile nature of his existence are moments of literary brilliance from Duncan – his poignant yet witty reflections are haunting and refreshing, and one would almost feel sorry for Jake, if he wasn’t having loads of fabulous sex on the side.
One of my favourite comments on the novel comes from The Guardian, saying “… let’s see how much sex and violence you can take. The answer is an awful lot, when it’s done artfully”. It’s so true. Through strategically placed journal entries, readers learn how Jake came to be a slave to the lunar cycle, and how he has coped over the years with his mounting body count. There is lots of sex and lots of action. Killing and eating are two crucial elements to Jake’s survival, and both actions are described in excruciating detail, and with a certain degree of elegance and beauty are not too much to handle. The sex scenes are no Mills and Boon delight. In both human and ‘wulf’ form, the sex is intense, powerful, and not too quietly animalistic. And again, it’s not overkill. It’s not too much. One can tactfully read these scenes in public places, and unless a passer-by has read the novel, no one will know what’s happening.
So Jake is depressed, suicidal and preparing for death. But a series of events are set into place that force Jake to re-evaluate everything he thought he knew about his existence. Through a chance encounter at a train station, Jake’s quest for meaning in this world he describes as “in an opaque plastic bubble of television and booze” is reinvigorated. The novel covers some deep psychological themes and presents an intelligent and witty supernatural novel in an age when utter crap sits next to it on the shelves. Booksellers, if you read this, do not sort The Last Werewolf into supernatural fiction. At the very least, it deserves to be in fiction, and at the very best literary fiction, because in its own blood and sex-crazed way, it is one of the most well written novels I’ve ever read.
I’ll have to be honest with you, I was reading this book for a long time. I’d heard some incredibly promising things about it and was incredibly excited to read it, but it took a good while to get completely into it. Not to say that it didn’t eventually happen, and I was hanging on the edge of Duncan’s every word, but don’t be surprised if The Last Werewolf doesn’t grab you from the onset. If it does, then disregard these last few lines.