Book Review: Hemlock

By Kathleen Peacock
May 8, 2012
Ages 14 and up
Katherine Tegen Books
Reviewed: e-book (Edelweiss)

Author’s Website
Hardcover | Kindle

Mackenzie and Amy were best friends. Until Amy was brutally murdered.

Since then, Mac’s life has been turned upside down. She is being haunted by Amy in her dreams, and an extremist group called the Trackers has come to Mac’s hometown of Hemlock to hunt down Amy’s killer: A white werewolf.

Lupine syndrome—also known as the werewolf virus—is on the rise across the country. Many of the infected try to hide their symptoms, but bloodlust is not easy to control.

Wanting desperately to put an end to her nightmares, Mac decides to investigate Amy’s murder herself. She discovers secrets lurking in the shadows of Hemlock, secrets about Amy’s boyfriend, Jason, her good pal Kyle, and especially her late best friend. Mac is thrown into a maelstrom of violence and betrayal that puts her life at risk.

Kathleen Peacock’s thrilling novel is the first in the Hemlock trilogy, a spellbinding urban fantasy series filled with provocative questions about prejudice, trust, lies, and love.


HEMLOCK is a surprisingly touching book full of the sort of mystery that will have you guessing until the very last pages. If you find yourself jaded by the sheer number of (and lack of originality in) werewolf books these days, Hemlock may be the book to reel you right back into the genre.

The plot of Hemlock is easily explained by reading the summary above. To say much more than this would spoil the surprises that the author has in store for you. Hemlock is a story about the secrets that people keep and the lives that these secrets ultimately affect. In the town of Hemlock (that the book is named for) everyone is keeping a secret. I love how Kathleen balanced the paranormal elements of the story with a mystery that unravels at a surprisingly fast pace.  Plus, such topics as how the werewolf virus came to be in this world and the segregation that has occurred because of it are explained in vivid detail.

Hemlock takes place in a contemporary alternate world, parallel to our own. The setting alone will make you believe that this story could easily occur today, despite the fantastical werewolf elements. In fact, although they are very much at the forefront of the story, the werewolves seem more like a piece of the puzzle (perhaps the driving element) rather than what the story is actually about. Also, something that may shock you about about the story is the amount of emotion you will experience by reading the details of each of the character’s lives. Kathleen has created a set of characters who are each damaged in their own little (and for some, extreme) ways. Mackenzie, the protagonist, is at once a flawed, realistic and extremely likeable character. Her own personal tragedies are not limited to just the death of her best friend and I admire her strength and her determination, despite her unfortunate loneliness. I also appreciate the fact that, while there was a “love triangle” of sorts, you still feel fairly certain of where Mac’s heart belongs. Yes, even the love triangle is one of the most realistic I have ever read in fiction, as Mac’s feelings are based on realistic thoughts and emotion.

Topics such as alcoholism, prejudice, class lines and more are all explored in Hemlock. In fact, I found myself comparing the characters, Kathleen’s writing style and her subject matter to that of Shine by Lauren Myracle, which is a surprisingly similar (and just as riveting) contemporary novel. That is a complement, since Shine was one of my top reads of 2011.

I have a feeling that Hemlock has securely placed itself among my top reads of 2012.

Plot: 9
Characters: 10
Setting: 10
Style: 9

Grade: 97


About Jenna (Does Books)

Working momma of a little pink princess and reader of all things YA. I'm an artist, writer and avid reader who swears that she's having a hard time letting go of the childish things... Let me read your latest YA book and let's see if it makes the grade!

Posted on May 18, 2012, in Book Review, Four & 1/2 Star and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. This sounds good!!! Mike is going to come hunt you down with all these added TBR’s! 😉 Awesome review!

    • That’s OK. I’m pretty good at self defense. Show him a bit of my “hiiiii yah!” ;D Then he would probably laugh since it will likely tickle more than it will hurt.

  2. Lena Marsteller (@LenaMarsteller)

    That is so great that you enjoy this book!!!!
    I really need to get this one!

  3. I love the fact you said this is a fast paced read for some reason i’ve been stuck with a lot of slow reads lately 😦 anyways great review I’m not the biggest fans of werewolves but this one has me curious.

    • It may definitely be worth taking a look into. It’s strange how little this feels like a “werewolf” book as it does a mystery that simply involves werewolves. Heck, it almost feels more like an alternate “dystopian” type world with werewolves. In all, it’s just a “different” sort of read!

  4. Oh, this sounds so good! Its great to read good reviews about books I’m anticipating {and yearning for the cash to go out and buy them!}

    • Hopefully you get the cash soon! It’s definitely worth the investment! 😉 Or the library… you know, free books that you can borrow are just as good.

  5. I wanted to read this book based solely on the beautiful cover! I haven’t really read any werewolf books, so this one is going to be the first I read and I have heard so many good things about it so far around the blogs 🙂

  1. Pingback: Weekly Roundup (3) + Book Haul! (vlog) « Making the Grade

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