Oct 15, 2008

Lonely Werewolf Girl by Martin Millar

Kalix McRinnalch, a seventeen-year-old werewolf who belongs to a very powerful Scottish werewolf clan, has ran away to London after attacking her father, and is now being perused. Kalix is a troubled and lonely werewolf girl. She has absolutely no friends, and she lost her lover, Gawain, after their relationship led to his banishment. And on top of everything else, Kalix has to struggle with the werewolf equivalent of an eating disorder and with her addiction to laudanum.

Moonglow and Daniel, two human university students, rescue Kalix when she’s being chased by one of her brothers and some of his minions, who intend to kill her and/or drag her back to the family’s castle in Scotland. And though it’s not wise for humans to get involved in the affairs of werewolves, they are too kind to refuse to help Kalix (though she has no problems refusing their help), and end up being caught in the middle of a dangerous feud.

Meanwhile, Kalix’s older sister, a werewolf sorceress named Thrix, is also in London, where she is a successful fashion designer. Her biggest costumer is Malveria, a Fire Elemental Queen. Kalix’s other siblings are Markux and Sarapen, who not only want her dead for attacking their father, but begin to want each other dead as they fight for leadership of the Clan.

So what we have are fashion designers, aspiring bands in Camden Town, students, Scottish werewolf clans, elemental and fairy queens, troubled teenagers, doomed love affairs, violence and intrigue, and a group of people trying to understand one another. If this sounds complicated, don’t worry. It isn’t. Yes, there’s a fairly large cast of characters and quite a few parallel storylines, but they go together perfectly and the result is a book that is an absolute joy to read.

Lonely Werewolf Girl is absolutely hilarious. I just love Martin Millar’s sense of humour. Malveria, the Fire Elemental Queen with a penchant for pretty outfits, is one of the funniest characters I have ever encountered. And I’d explain why, but there’s no way I’d be able to do her justice, and “Dismal niece!” taken out of context isn’t half as funny as it is in the book.

But Lonely Werewolf Girl is as dark, sweet, tender and heartbreaking as it is funny. It’s a story about dysfunctional families, love, disappointments, and above all, friendship – the ability to cooperate and to trust one another.

There were bits in the books where I could really identify with Kalix. Because of certain things that happened in her life, she has a lot of trouble trusting others. Even though Moonglow and Daniel show her nothing but kindness, it’s hard for her to believe that somebody could actually be nice to her simply because they like her. And at the smallest sign, she automatically assumes she’s not welcome and retreats into her shell. In the book it’s easy to see how fallacious Kalix’s thought processes are, but it’s just as easy to see how to her they feel absolutely real, and how real the distress and anxiety they cause her is. Thoughts of this kind do have a way of seeming real when they go through our minds, even if an outside observer could immediately tell us they’re absurd.

The characters – Moonglow, Daniel, Kalix, and everyone, really, even the most quirky ones – are so completely human. And the way they interact and relate to one another is a big part of what makes this book so special. Martin Millar has a way of being sweet without ever even coming close to being sappy. And he often manages to be funny and moving in the same sentence. There were several passages in Lonely Werewolf Girl that brought tears to my eyes even as they made me laugh.

The ending was absolutely perfect. It was not miraculous, but it was hopeful and sweet. Certain wrongs cannot be made right, and what was lost cannot be regained. It takes time for relationships to mend, for wounds to heal, and sometimes not even time can repair the damage that was done. But at the same time, people carry on with their lives. They take pleasure in small things, understand that small things are perhaps not that small, and realize that they’re alive, that there are people who can be trusted, that there are things that can be done.

I know I’m not doing this book justice, so I’ll have to ask you to trust me that it’s an absolutely brilliant book, wise and funny and hopeful and sad. I loved it at least as much as The Good Fairies of New York. Maybe more, because Lonely Werewolf Girl is longer and therefore there is more of it to love. And despite its length, I was incredibly sad when I finished it, simply because I wanted to keep on reading it indefinitely. I miss the characters terribly already. This is a book I know I’ll return to again and again.

Even cats love Lonely Werewolf Girl, and you know that cats are always right.

Martin Millar is officially a genius. I need to read the rest of his books.

Other Blog Reviews:
Jenny's Books
You Can Never Have Too Many Books


  1. This is not good. Why? Because I keep on piling on books on my wish list (because I can't pile on my TBR?) all thanks to you. Hrrmmmph! LOL.

    That's a great review, Nymeth. :D

  2. Gah! I've got to read this. It's been on my shelves for what feels like forever!

  3. I don't think I've heard of this book. Thanks faor the great review, Nymeth! Now I'll have to look out for it (couldn't resist the werewolf theme too, hehe).

  4. Well it sounds complicated but also kind of interesting!!! Great find!

  5. Yours is the second great review I've read of this book. Werewolves is a topic (genre?) I've never gotten into, but since I just dipped my feet into vampire stories, I might as well try this, too! Whenever I can dig out from the TBR pile, that is.

  6. Ooooh, I want it! I'm seriously considering adding The Good Fairies of New York to my read-a-thon pile. I saw it was on Debi's too! Maybe we can read it together :)

  7. Cool review, I enjoyed it :)

    I am here to remind you about the Read-a-thon taking place on Oct 18th. It just 2 days away, and I really hope that you have prepared for it... and are all ready to get -reading!

    Thanks for participating!

    For Read-a-thon
    My BLOG

  8. I sometimes feel as if you get to read all the fun books all the time, which is not fair. Great review :)

  9. I am so glad to hear that this one is so enjoyable. I have, but have yet to read, Good Faeries, and this one looked so inviting the first time I saw it on the shelf. This is one I will certainly pick up at some point. Great review Nymeth.

    Love the cat picture. It looks like it is trying to peek inside to get a glimpse at what the story is about.

  10. "I know I’m not doing this book justice"...I find this incredibly hard to believe! You made this book sound beyond magical! I don't think I've ever been more sold on a book from a review as I am with this one!
    I've never read anything by Millar before, but that first sentence from The Good Fairies has to my favorite first sentence ever!

    Can I ask you a quick question...do you think this book would be appropriate for Annie? It just really sounds like something she'd love as well.

  11. Another author who's completely new to me. You make this book sound wonderful and I've added it to my 'keep an eye out for' list.

    I'm just catching up with my blogroll after being busy with a visitor for over a week. I just wanted to say, about your previous 'Interlude' post, that I love your blog exactly the way it is and hope you're not thinking of changing it. Where else would I go for all the latest Pratchett news and reviews. :-)

  12. I've not really gotten into any of the werewolf stories that are out there but this one really sounds like fun. Thank you for such a great review. I'm adding it to my list :)

  13. Alice: lol :P Deep down, you know it IS good :P

    Andi: yes you do!

    Melody, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

    Ladytink: it started to sound complicated to me when I was trying to describe it :P But the book is structured so well that it being complicated didn't even occur to me as I read it.

    Jeane: I think this is probably the first werewolf book that I've ever read. Not because I dislike werewolves, but because I had never changed to pick one up before. But you know, I think even people who hate werewolves could enjoy this book. Because the point really is the characters' relationships and feelings and interactions, and they are all so human.

    Chris: Yes, you and Debi totally should read Good Fairies together! I saw on her blog that you really liked the first line from it...you know you want to read the rest!

    Veena, hi :P It was me who e-mailed you earlier, but I forgot to let you know what my blog was. Thanks again for your help and for doing such a great job reminding people!

    Violet: Not all the time, but a lot of it, I guess :P Thanks, and I hope you enjoy this one!

    Carl: I hope you enjoy both this and Good Fairies! And isn't the cat great? Plus he looks a lot like one of mine, which made it extra cool for me.

    Debi: That IS a great first sentence. And like I was telling Chris, you know you want to read the rest :P As for Annie, hmm...the book has a good amount of violence, substance abuse and a few sex scenes (none explicit, though, just implied). I'm not sure if any of it would be more than Annie could handle, but I think Good Fairies might be better for someone her age. It's been a while since I read that one, though, so there might be things I'm not remembering.

    Cath, I really think you'll enjoy Martin Millar. And don't worry, no plans for changing my blog :P And thank you for your kind words. That post was mostly me thinking aloud about whether or not it'd be a good idea to try and post something different inbetween the book review. I was a bit cranky that day and I ended up making it sound much more dramatic than I intended :P

    Iliana: I actually haven't read any other werewolf stories either, but I can still guarantee that this is absolutely unique! I hope you enjoy it when you get to it :)

  14. Interesting that you mention how hilarious this book is--I wouldn't have thought that from the cover or your initial description. Sounds like a lot of fun--and I love a book that can be so many things at one time (wise funny hopeful sad).

  15. Trish: I know, I wouldn't have expected it to be funny either if it wasn't by Martin Millar. But he can make any subject funny. I just love his sense of humour.

  16. This sounds interesting, especially since I have an odd fascination for werewolves! :p

    & Thanks for stopping by with a read-a-thon reminder! :)

  17. Phantom inkheart, you're welcome! I hope you enjoy Lonely Werewolf Girl when you get to it.

  18. Do you have any idea how many times I have picked this up at the bookstore, but returned it to the shelf? I was just very unsure of how it would be, maybe it was the cover, which I feel strangely about.
    But anyways, I now am regretting not getting it! Your review makes it sound so, so much better than the actual back of the book description.
    Thank you for the wonderful review, and making me see that I simply cannot miss out on Lonely Werewolf Girl :)

  19. Ooh, I've been meaning to get this but I'm waiting for the second or so reprints after Millar mentioned that a lot of typos occurred with the first printing :P

  20. I'm so glad you liked it! I have Suzy, Led Zeppelin, and Me on my bookshelf, and I'm just testing myself to see how long I can delay gratification before I break down and read it. (It'll be better if I've waited for it.) Wonderful Martin Millar!

  21. Great review! This isn't something I'd normally read, but I think it would be worthwhile to check it out. Thanks for the recommendation!


  22. I got my library to purchase this one and finally got to read it! It was so wonderful, and while initially I was a little put off by the length, oh, I was so sorry when it ended. I now have to read everything else this man has written!


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