Hemlock Grove, Or, The Wise Wolf

Hemlock Grove, Or, The Wise Wolf

Book - 2012
Average Rating:
6
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An exhilarating reinvention of the gothic novel, inspired by the iconic characters of our greatest myths and nightmares.

The body of a young girl is found mangled and murdered in the woods of Hemlock Grove, Pennsylvania, in the shadow of the abandoned Godfrey Steel mill. A manhunt ensues--though the authorities aren't sure if it's a man they should be looking for.

Some suspect an escapee from the White Tower, a foreboding biotech facility owned by the Godfrey family--their personal fortune and the local economy having moved on from Pittsburgh steel--where, if rumors are true, biological experiments of the most unethical kind take place. Others turn to Peter Rumancek, a Gypsy trailer-trash kid who has told impressionable high school classmates that he's a werewolf. Or perhaps it's Roman, the son of the late JR Godfrey, who rules the adolescent social scene with the casual arrogance of a cold-blooded aristocrat, his superior status unquestioned despite his decidedly freakish sister, Shelley, whose monstrous medical conditions belie a sweet intelligence, and his otherworldly control freak of a mother, Olivia.

At once a riveting mystery and a fascinating revelation of the grotesque and the darkness in us all, Hemlock Grove has the architecture and energy to become a classic in its own right--and Brian McGreevy the talent and ambition to enthrall us for years to come.

Publisher: New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, c2012.
ISBN: 9780374532918
0374532915
Characteristics: 319 p. ;,19 cm.

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FindingJane Jul 10, 2017

This book is a confused mess of adolescent ennui, adult ineffectuality, murder mystery and horror story. It largely fails at all of these elements. The narrative is not helped by a cool, distant tone that fails to bring home any awe about its central mystery. Also, the writing occasionally features what seems like stream of consciousness writing in which dialogue can trip into a spoken sentence without the accompanying punctuation. This is apparently the author’s writing style; it works for some but not for me. I’m vaguely reminded of a Faulkner novel I tried to read but had to discard for lack of coherence.

Girls are being ripped into pieces by some kind of animal. The authorities can’t tell which kind of animal (although they refuse to admit ignorance to the general populace) and rumors start to run rife. In spite of this, the parents and teenagers don’t seem too concerned. That lackadaisical attitude is not helped by no-name cops who see harassment as a deterrent and can be mesmerized at will by Roman Godfrey. “These are not the droids you’re looking for…”

There’s an actual werewolf but his change, while graphically written, rouses less fascination than watching a man change into his drag. The onlooker to this miracle sees it as being entirely natural, about as wondrous as a squirrel climbing a tree. His question about whether he can pet the revealed lycanthrope reveals just how meaningless the whole business is.

All of this is mixed up with something called Ouroboros, symbolized as a snake eating its own tail. I remember it as a prominent symbol in the cancelled tv series “Millenium” starring Lance Henrikson, an “X-File” episode “Never Again” in which Scully gets it as a tattoo, an episode of “The Pretender” (it symbolized a cult of modern-day cannibals) and a “Red Dwarf” installment wherein Dave Lister finds out his former love interest Kristine Kochanski is his mother and he’s his own father. All of these were a lot more interesting than whatever clandestine activity is occurring in Hemlock Grove. Whatever it is, it’s never adequately explained; it’s either some secret lab experiment gone wrong, a mad scientist dabbling in the forbidden or completely unrelated to the main drama.

There’s a finally meandering explanation by Olivia Godfrey that reveals a twisted ancestral tie. But it’s a rambling coda that doesn’t shed light on anything so much as shines it right in your eyes.

I adore books. But some novels just make you want to chuck them and turn on the tube. Here’s hoping the series based on this book is a more engrossing than this is.

BakerStreetIrregular Jun 15, 2015

A great read, although I was glad I'd watched season 1 of the show first - I felt like it made some of the chapters easier to visualize.

d
deirdre17
Aug 31, 2013

The book is only the plot synopsis, and you need the wiki to get any depth. The neflix may be a better choice for story telling. That said, this guy has razor moments that shocked me with the insight and beauty of his writing. Basically, though, this book is just a horror house ride with real shocks and beauty. Ultimately unsatisfying due to lazy writing and scant work on details and depth. .

2
22950006357453
Apr 22, 2013

there has to be a sequel

DesPlainesReaders Aug 24, 2012

This is an ambitious first novel: producing a few ideas for the reader to digest even after the book is finished. It is certainly an enjoyably updated view of how monsters would exist in our current world. ~wearespartacus/notTom

f
fatzane
Jul 28, 2012

Literary writting, interesting story. Excited to see it released on Netflix.

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