Thomas Emson

Trade Paper, 390 pages, $14.95
Review by Sheila Merritt

The notion that “hell has no fury like a woman…” is amplified when applied to a ticked-off female werewolf. In Thomas Emson’s Maneater, a lady lycanthrope named Laura takes her lineage and its legacy by the throat. Determined to avenge the slaughter of her family, she embarks on a violent vendetta. Laura is gory and gorgeous, beauty and the beast, the stuff that dreams (and nightmares) are made of. Male readers will find her extremely attractive, and women readers will admire her for her attributes and attitude.

Laura’s hirsute history goes back centuries. She is the product of the Greenacre clan, werewolves who live on the fringe of society. The other branch of the family, the Templetons, has become wealthy and powerful and shuns the ways of the wolf. This, over time, has negated their abilities to transform and diluted their physical strength. Still, they continue to wage a war with the Greenacres to determine who is top dog. When most of the Greenacres are taken out in an orchestrated massacre, the Templetons delight in the deaths. There’s only one nasty reminder of their bestial past: Laura, a child at the time of the killings. As an adult, she re-discovers her heritage and hungers for revenge. In the course of satiating her appetite, she will fall in love, contribute to the creation of a bunch of nasty male werewolves, and tear apart some dregs of humanity.

Thomas Emson keeps the action going nicely; his chapters are short, and there is a lot of movement in locale and shifts in character focus. His characters are interesting; although many are not particularly likeable. All have motivations that are comprehensible, if not often admirable.

Emson has written before in Welsh; Maneater is his first English language novel. It was published in the United Kingdom before Skarlet (previously reviewed in Hellnotes) but in America, the publishing order is reversed. This is a tighter book than Skarlet; with Maneater Thomas Emson shows his polish and fine tuning skills. He has created in Laura Greenacre a complicated and conflicted anti-heroine, who lingers in the memory after the book is closed. Thankfully, the author has left the door open for a sequel.

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