Thursday, March 20, 2014

By Blood We Live by Glen Duncan

By Blood We Live By Blood We Live is the last in Glen Duncan's trilogy of werewolf stories.  The series began in The Last Werewolf in which the World Organization for the Control of Occult Phenomena (WOCOP) is so good at hunting down monsters that eat people there is but one werewolf left - Jake Marlowe.  While werewolves are not immortal they do live for an awful long time and world weary Jake has seen a lot and done a lot, and is ready to let go of this life. Then all of sudden Jake isn't the last werewolf.  Talulla arrives and Jake's world gets a little brighter.  Their meeting eventually leads to their twins Zoe and Lorcan.

Seconds after giving birth, Lorcan is ripped away from Talulla.  In Talulla Rising the novel's namesake chases after her son's kidnappers in an effort to get him back.  While Talulla doesn't have time for the sort of melancholic, existential crisis Jake goes through in the first book, there are questions about how one raises children who by their very nature have to learn how to commit murder efficiently and safely (safe for them, not their victims) on a monthly basis.  Questions about life, death, and humanity play against a backdrop of action packed with copious amounts of blood and gore.

This trilogy started in an interesting way but got weaker with each book.  The Last Werewolf had some beautiful writing in places and presented a new take on the werewolf genre.  Written from a woman's perspective, I felt Tallula was less successful than its predecessor but was still well worth the read.  By Blood We Live is written from multiple perspectives making for an uneven narrative. 

The bigger problem I had with this and that was there didn't seem to be any overarching goal or problem to be solved.  Not that every story needs this but in the first book there is a steady march towards Jake's demise, and then when Talulla arrives, the question becomes will Jake survive.  The story continues in the second book with Talulla trying to rescue her son and get her children to safety.  To be honest, beyond the daily struggle to survive - in the case of werewolves this means finding ways to satisfy the beast's hunger while evading humans who want to kill them (not without good reason) - I'm not entirely clear what the third book was about or why it matters.  There was something about a cure, a prophesy, the reincarnation of an old lover, and militant angels who have made it their mission to hunt down and kill werewolves.  The story never came together for me and it lacked the interesting introspection of the first two books.  This would have been okay if this series were just a horror series about monsters and blood, but the series started out as something more.  I found myself skimming through the last 100 pages because I just wanted to finish already and move on to something else.  Thankfully, now I can.

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