Rating: 4 of 5
Synopsis: “A spellbinding and darkly humorous coming-of-age story about an unusual boy, whose family lives on the fringe of society and struggles to survive in a hostile world that shuns and fears them.” (source)
My thoughts: I was compelled to read this book thanks to an article/ interview posted on Cemetery Dance Online. During the interview, Jones mentioned WHEN ANIMALS DREAM; I thought, hey, this dude may be alright, so I picked up Mongrels.
A coming-of-age tale with werewolves seemed like a perfect idea to me, and Jones delivers. Seriously, I was hooked from sentence one: “My grandfather used to tell me he was a werewolf.”
I adored the unnamed narrator’s Grandpa from the get-go. And it wasn’t until I finished the story and started thinking about my “review” that I realized the narrator was never named; I felt like I knew him so completely. Crafty, sneaky author. While I did not enjoy the grisly details involving owls and bunnies and dogs, those added another layer of realism to the werewolves’ behavior. I simply looked away from those poor animals’ death scenes and read on.
I couldn’t stop reading either. Their dysfunctional little family was messed up, sure, but man there was a lot of heart there. Loyal and protective, accepting of one another. Hell, if one were to overlook their criminal tendencies and, you know, the occasional murdering, it’d be hard not to want family members like them to have your back.
There was also an interesting mix of new and old folklore surrounding the werewolves in Mongrels. I won’t go into specifics, because it’s more fun to let them unfold as you read, but I will say the whole story had a freshness that I’ve missed in horror recently. Plus, like I already mentioned, it had heart and, ultimately, I think that depth was what allowed me to overlook its minor imperfections.
Highly recommended especially if you devour everything werewolf.
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(Review cross-posted on LibraryThing and Goodreads.)
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