Camwolf by JL Merrow

Posted by Mrs Giggles on May 2, 2011 in 2 Oogies, Book Reviews, Genre: Fantasy & Sci-fi / 0 Comments

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Camwolf by JL Merrow
Camwolf by JL Merrow

Samhain Publishing, $5.50, ISBN 978-1-60928-456-5
Paranormal Romance, 2011

Camwolf actually has werewolves that turn during the full moon, imagine that. This one is a quaint romance set in a setting that can’t be even more English if it comes with Geri Halliwell dressed in nothing but the Union Jack: Cambridge. Dr Nick Sewell is a “natural scientist” who lectures at the All Saints College. When he’s not reminiscing about accents and doing other top-lofty intellectual stuff, he is making eyes at that hot gay student, Julian Lauder. Ah, but Nick is a werewolf, not that it matters because it’s revealed in the official synopsis that Julian is also a werewolf. Some plot about a mean, bad wolf on the prowl adds some semblance of plot amidst such lofty oh-so English prose such as this:

There were about a dozen die-hard members who came here every week come hell or high water, and a shifting population of usually five or six more, depending on how close they were getting to exams. Tonight was rather crowded, it being only a few weeks into Michaelmas term. There was a variety of accents, ranging from flawless Hochdeutsch to broad Schwitzerdütsch. And, of course, faltering attempts at joining in with a hideous English inflection from a few whom Nick knew from experience wouldn’t outlast the first evening.

Julian, of course, was very much at the Hochdeutsch end of the scale, and seemed to be completely fluent. Not so very surprising, with a surname like Lauder, Nick supposed. He thought he could detect just a trace of a Southern softening of the final consonants. Nick rather liked South German accents. He had one himself, he was reliably informed. At the moment, Julian had his end of the table in fits over his cruelly accurate impersonation of one of the English lecturers – Nick marvelling at how the boy managed to capture the old man’s dithering speech patterns so precisely whilst speaking an entirely different language. He looked the very picture of arrogant youth, but Nick was convinced there was more to him than that. Perhaps Nick was deluding himself, but he’d been watching the boy. In an entirely non-stalkerish way, of course. When Julian was alone – which was rather more often than one might have expected of one so outwardly attractive and entertaining — his face took on a much more open, vulnerable expression.

Yo, dude, I think I’ve developed a hoity-toity posh English accent just from reading the above two paragraphs. By the time I reach the last page, I’m deadly certain that I can pass myself off as Judi Dench when I speak.

That’s my problem with Camwolf. The story is fine. The characters are okay, if tad stereotypical. But the story feels way overblown, overwritten with too much navel gazing about small little details, to the point that for a long stretch of time, very little seems to be happening and then… bang! We have some rushed scenes, and next thing I know, it’s the end. The problem is due to a bit of pacing problem and a bit more of too many words being used to describe trivial details. Sure, one can argue that such attention to details provides atmosphere and brings the setting to life. In this case though, all those words don’t come together to give me a better mental image of the setting or the characters. In fact, for a long time I wonder whether this is a contemporary story or a historical story because the setting is actually vague. Here’s a college, here are some hot guys, and since we’re in England, let’s have some buggery… but what else? The characters are familiar stereotypes and the plot is very slow moving. So what are all those words for?

Too much navel-gazing and self-indulgent rambling, not enough focus. Camwolf would have been a better read if the author had gone straight to the point instead of drowning her scenes in minutiae.

Cantankerous muffin who loves boys that sparkle, unicorns, money, chocolates, and fantastical stories.

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