If any of you are familiar with the person behind the blog, you are probably aware of this already. For those of you who aren’t: the person behind the blog is very into stories about werewolves in which the main character is not a white straight man. No apologies will be made for this; the blogger is very much a snob about these kinds of things, and is easily bored with reading stories about the same character with different names.
But, I digress. The point is, I’m always on the lookout for werewolf stories that break the mold that werewolf stories tend to stay in. Female werewolves? Awesome. Female werewolves that also don’t swoon about male werewolves? More awesome.
This is how I came to find out about Andronica Llewellyn, the “classy lesbian werewolf from the Eighteenth Century.” And shortly after finding out about Miss Llewellyn, I came to find out about the first volume of her memoirs, Night Music.
The first volume documents her life as the daughter of Welsh nobility in the 1700s, a werewolf separate from others of her kind and forced to rely on her own wit and intelligence. After slaughtering and devouring a multitude of people, causing her father to conclude that a murderer and his mad hound is on the loose, Llewellyn is, for better or for worse, sent off to live in London with her aunt. It is here that she discovers that she is only the latest incarnation of a woman who has lived many lives before her, and will continue to live after her. With her Sisters—fellow lycanthropes that she was previously acquainted with—missing and her mythical Companion nowhere to be seen, it is up to Andronica alone to utilize her own skills and prowess to understand what is happening to her, how to control it, and moreover how to protect the things she loves.
The book is not a particularly long one, clocking in at roughly 272 pages in the standard edition, but the sense of tension rarely lets up through Andronica’s journey from Welsh duchess to London spymaster and lady-in-waiting, making the book difficult to put down. Despite all odds, despite Andronica’s occasional lapses into self-hatred at the death she has caused, you continue to root for her in the hopes that she makes it out of all of this intact. By the end of the first volume, you will find yourself both relieved that she’s more or less intact, and also frustrated at how much and how little you now know—what’s the deal with these crazy male werewolves, anyway? What even is the Sisterhood of the Wolf? Who the hell is Lysandra?
The only time the book lost its sense of tension and pacing was at the tail end (oops). When building tension through the passage of time as Night Music was doing, I wouldn’t advise shrugging off said passage of time in what felt like less than a page. I would’ve felt more tension before the ending had I experienced with the characters the nervous waiting, rather than being told in a paragraph or so that the characters were nervously waiting. Beyond that, the book had a few too many, shall we say, bathroom scenes for my taste—often with more detail (yeah this pun keeps happening) than I really wanted/needed to hear about. Nonetheless, these are relatively minor problems and personal issues in the grand scheme of the entire book, particularly as a first book, and so I can’t really find a great deal of fault in it.
Beyond that, the book was an altogether enjoyable read. I finished it in roughly a day. It is written in appropriate period English without sounding too antiquated, is pleasantly feminist without being overly preachy (I’m looking at you, Lunatic Fringe), and probably had one of the very few lycanthropy/menstruation metaphors that didn’t come across as one long “haha, get it? Time of the month?” joke. Overall, it was genuinely an excellent book, and I will be waiting eagerly to get my paws on the second volume.