Thursday, August 5, 2010

Review: Claire de Lune by Christine Johnson

I read Claire de Lune shortly after reading Sisters Red - talk about two totally different werewolf books. Books like Sisters Red are why I can't swear off the werewolf genre, because you never know when something surprising will pop up. Claire de Lune isn't surprising like Sisters Red, but for a paranormal werewolf romance, I've certainly found worse.

Claire de LuneClaire's sixteenth birthday party is going perfectly - except for the weird rash on the back of her hands and ears that is driving her crazy. Luckily Matthew, Claire's crush, hasn't noticed anything weird about her - and even talked to her during her party!

Until word arrives that there's been a werewolf attack nearby. The party shuts down fast as everyone runs for the safety of their homes.

Werewolves are a fact of life - Matthew's dad even works with the Federal Human Protection Agency, and hopes his research into a cure for werewolves will net him a position with Lyconthropy Researchers International. A lot of his research, however, is bunk.

How does Claire know this? On the night of her 16th birthday, her mother reveals a family secret: they are werewolves, and over the next three months Claire will complete her transformation into a fully grown werewolf - that rash was the first symptom of her transformation.

As Claire is initiated into the all-female local pack, the loup-garou find themselves dealing with another major issue: the rogue werewolf attacking innocent humans. As Matthew's father leads the hunt on the human side, Claire's mother is leading the pack's hunt, and Claire is left in the middle. Her mother tells her she's too young to know everything about her werewolf powers, and she is also expected to keep her newfound knowledge totally to herself - certainly she can't tell Matthew, and keeping such a major secret is putting a strain on their budding relationship. Forbidden or not, Claire is sure she can help the pack track down the rogue wolf - and just maybe trust Matthew enough to let him into her inner secrets.

The basics of the story are strong and interesting - I like Johnson's take on the loup-garou legends and the matriarchal pack structure (all werewolves are female in this world), and the mystery of the lone werewolf had me guessing up until the big reveal. Like in The Body Finder, the tension is ratcheted up as we see brief glimpses from the killer wolf's point of view - usually right before she sinks her teeth into the throat of some hapless human.

Less-strong is the storyline between Claire and her best friend Emily. Emily's sole contribution to the novel is giving Claire and excuse to talk awkwardly and very briefly about her growing relationship with Matthew - the girls literally talk about nothing else.

I also didn't like the relationship between Claire and her mother a lot of the time. I hate parent-child relationships where the parent refuses to tell her child something on the basis that the kid isn't old enough. It's exacerbated here because Claire's mother acknowledges there is a lot for Claire to learn, but puts an apparently arbitrary deadline on when she will actually talk to Claire about it. Until then, Claire should just sit back and be quiet, even as the rogue wolf puts everyone she loves in danger.

I also wish more background had been given about the history of the world. Werewolves are a fact of life in this story - but when did that begin? Have werewolves always been part of the human world, never becoming mere myths as they have in ours? Or is like the dragons in Voices of Dragons that appeared after World War II? It looks like this is going to be a trilogy, like so many paranormal stories are these days, with the sequel Nocturne coming out in May next year, and hopefully we'll get more background then.

Since this is a paranormal romance I should probably comment about that, too, huh? The good news is the romance is one of the strong points in the novel. It's nothing groundbreaking, but Claire and Matthew have a fairly normal relationship - as normal as you can have when one partner is secretly a werewolf, at least. It's nice to see this normalcy contrasted with the craziness that Claire's life is quickly becoming.

1 comment:

Mel said...

Great review! I loved this book because it was a bit different. But you make some very good points about the history of the world not being well constructed. Thank you.

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