Book Reviews

Review: “Hemlock,” Kathleen Peacock

July 23, 2012

I received this book for free from Simon & Schuster Australia in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: “Hemlock,” Kathleen PeacockHemlockby Kathleen Peacock
Series: Hemlock #1
Published by Simon & Schuster on July, 2012
Genres: Mystery, Urban Fantasy, Werewolves / Shifters
Pages: 416
Source: Simon & Schuster Australia

Mackenzie and Amy were best friends. 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 boy-friend, 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 has managed to rejuvenate the werewolf YA genre with her debut, Hemlock! A fast-paced and interesting story that had me turning pages well into the night.

This book was part of my 2012 Debut Author Challenge
I was so happy when I received a copy of Hemlock from Simon & Schuster, Australia (called ‘Deadly Hemlock‘ here in Australia and the UK). I want to start with the obvious: that is, I prefer the simplified ‘Hemlock’ title and US cover to its UK/AU counterpart. It’s for this reason that I’ve used both the US title and cover for this review; and because I feel most of my blog readers will recognise Hemlock and the story inside it by this name and cover. I wanted to avoid confusion as much as possible when reviewing this book.

I’d heard great things about Hemlock and it didn’t disappoint. My blog has been rather dead lately due to me starting a new job and finishing off University exams for the past semester and I’m sad to say that I haven’t picked up a book since my last review. Sure, the books have been coming in and I’ve been filing them away on my shelves, but I hadn’t actually had the motivation to pick any of them up and READ until Hemlock fell onto my doorstep.

It goes without saying that the story immediately drew me in. I wasn’t worried, but evidently the werewolf YA genre is slowly dying and I DID wonder what new things Kathleen Peacock’s debut could offer me. The answer is simple: a lot of things.

I loved how the story started with no obvious love-interest connections to Mackenzie (Mac), our leading lady. What we get is a cast of characters that have known each other for quite some time – none of that ‘new, mysterious brooding boy’ that is ‘immediately drawn’ to our heroine. Whenever I’m able to dive into already established characters and relationships is when I’m a very happy reader!

Certain aspects of this story reminded me of Veronica Mars. Not the obvious investigation side; but the fact that there were four close friends (two male, two female) who suddenly suffer a great loss and are struggling to keep their relationship in tact. Secrets about their existing relationship come out throughout the story, and Mac, Kyle and Jason must make a decision to either part ways or mend things as best as they possibly can.

The forming relationship between Mac and Kyle was great – probably my favourite part of Hemlock. I LOVED that Kyle had an existing romantic relationship with Heather Yoshida prior to he and Mac hooking up. I think it added a great dimension to their relationship and prevented he and Mac from getting together too ‘easily’. I don’t want to give too much away for those who are yet to read it, but it also tied in the supernatural element quite nicely.

The whole saga with the trackers and the political stance on the werewolf virus was great. It really shaped the world of Hemlock into one that was well-rounded and quite layered.

It’s also quite safe to say that I would have given this book a full five-stars if not for the last quarter of the book.

I’m not saying it was bad – not at all – it just wasn’t ON PAR with the rest of the book for me. I found the ‘final showdown’ (as I like to call it) rather lacking and so easy. I DID see the killer a mile off and it gives me a headache when the villains like to spew up the reasoning behind their motives and divulge their whole plan to their victim. The confrontation between Jason and Kyle was cliche – Mac knew it too – as well as the revelation about the break-up between Amy and Jason. These small things brought Hemlock down a notch for me, but I still enjoyed it a lot as a whole.

There is going to be a sequel… I’m not too sure how I feel about that. I mean, I adored the book, but if the ending had of been tweaked and such, I think it could have done quite well as a standalone. Still, I will be reading the next installment and I’m eager to see what more Kathleen Peacock has in store.

Recommended to: If you love werewolves but haven’t managed to find a great series/standalone on them for quite some time, give Hemlock a shot! A great way to kickstart your love for the genre again!

About Kathleen Peacock

Kathleen Peacock spent her teen years crushing on authors and writing short stories about vampires. She put her writing dreams on hold while attending art school, but tripped over them when office life left her feeling restless. Kathleen is Canadian and likely to perish in the first wave of the zombie apocalypse.

1 Comment

  • Reply Erin W July 23, 2012 at 5:16 pm

    I wasn’t a huge fan of this book, though it was still a pretty good read. Great review!

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