Note: There are necessarily spoilers for Book One in this series, The Last Werewolf, but none for this book, the sequel.
Talulla is a female werewolf who survived the murder of her werewolf lover Jake, killed by WOCOP, an anti-supernatural organization. WOCOP is still in the picture, but under new leadership and more outrageous than ever. The operatives of WOCOP seemed almost rational in Book One; in Book Two, the members are too deranged to be believable.
Talulla was left with a surprise by Jake – she is pregnant. Quite soon into the story, she bears twins, and one of them is kidnapped by vampires who believe that werewolf blood will allow them to walk in the light. [The belief that walking in the sun will be enabled by ingesting the blood of another non-human species is now a pretty common trope in vampire fiction. “True Blood” watchers, for example, know that in the Charlaine Harris-inspired fantasy world, vampires think faery blood will accomplish this goal.]
For the rest of the story, Talulla is trying to get her first child back; worrying about not eating the second one; and you know – the usual motherhood concerns. She is, moreover, always in the thrall of werewolf animal lust – not just during the full moon, but all the time. [Unfamiliar with the concept of TMI, she never misses a chance to share her fantasies with the readers.] But all this sex-drive business makes her feel guilty; lust and motherhood are not supposed to go together. [Someone has been soaking up too much of that virgin/whore propaganda!]
If all of this sounds silly or offensive, it comes out less so in the hands of Glen Duncan, but only just.
Discussion: I was highly impressed with the Duncan’s literary representation of genre fiction in The Last Werewolf (see my review, here). His fleshing out of the werewolf metaphor, interesting take on existential ennui, clever phrase construction, and numerous literary allusions elevated that first effort, in my mind, to something special.
This second book disappointed me, however. This time, many of the literary and cultural allusions seemed gratuitous or even silly. The references to the beastliness of the werewolf sounded more like porn than commentary on our animal natures. And the plot struck me as closer to that of a late-late-Saturday night “C” movie than to the sophisticated tale Duncan wove in Book One. The repeated scenes of putative calm interrupted by attacks from armed predators lacked only commercial breaks between onslaughts. In fact, I almost didn’t finish it (but as it happened, I was on the road and out of books!).
Evaluation: I would still recommend Book One (The Last Werewolf), but wouldn’t necessary endorse Book Two, Talulla Rising.
Published by Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House, 2012