REVIEW: Hemlock Grove by Brian McGreevy

I always read the book first…well, almost always, but Hemlock Grove snuck up on me. I loved the show and as soon as I heart that it was a book first, I knew I had to read it.

The television series is true to the book. Probably because McGreevy wrote and developed much of it. Usually with adaptations, the biggest complaint is that so much is left out. Surprisingly, the television series expanded the plot, adding subplots and details not found in the novel.

The Hemlock Grove of the book is familiar to those like me who have seen the show, and yet it is darker, and somewhat more fantastic. It is not a typical small town, but a place of monsters and magic, mad scientists and werewolves, and even a girl with giant cubes filled with potting soil for shoes.

Beautiful, Gothic language wraps around the reader like vines, pulling us into the story on page one and never letting go. This is a far cry from the slower pace of the television show.

An omniscient first person narrator takes us a layer further, into the complex minds of the characters. The narrator voice is a cross between Stephen King and the Brothers Grimm.

McGreevy revisits the classic movie monsters that horror fans know and love and revamps them. The vampires and werewolves of Hemlock Grove are unique to this story while still paying tribute to the legends that preceded this novel.

My favorite character is Shelly, a modern-day Frankenstein’s monster. While her appearance is more monstrous than the rest of the cast, she is the purest soul.

While Shelly is physically flawed, the rest of the characters are emotionally and mentally flawed. I found that I loved these characters despite their darkness—particularly Roman and Peter, the mismatched pair of high school boys on the hunt for the vargulf, the crazed werewolf they believe is preying on their town.

Hemlock Grove is a breath of fresh air for the genre, which has become stale in the wake of the tween vampire and werewolf craze but I fell in love with this book, not for what it has to say about monsters but, for what the monsters have to say about people.

An enchanting dark fairy tale for grown-ups and one of my new-found favorites.

AUTHOR: Brian McGreevy
RELEASE DATE: March 27, 2012
GENRE: Gothic Horror
LENGTH: 336 pages

Find Hemlock Grove on Amazon and Goodreads.


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