Author: Brian McGreevy
Published: March 2012, FSG Originals
Format: Print Copy received for review, FSB
An exhilarating reinvention of the gothic novel, inspired by the iconic characters of our greatest myths and nightmares.
The body of a young girl is found mangled and murdered in the woods of Hemlock Grove, Pennsylvania, in the shadow of the abandoned Godfrey Steel mill. A manhunt ensues—though the authorities aren’t sure if it’s a man they should be looking for.
Some suspect an escapee from the White Tower, a foreboding biotech facility owned by the Godfrey family—their personal fortune and the local economy having moved on from Pittsburgh steel—where, if rumors are true, biological experiments of the most unethical kind take place. Others turn to Peter Rumancek, a Gypsy trailer-trash kid who has told impressionable high school classmates that he’s a werewolf. Or perhaps it’s Roman, the son of the late JR Godfrey, who rules the adolescent social scene with the casual arrogance of a cold-blooded aristocrat, his superior status unquestioned despite his decidedly freakish sister, Shelley, whose monstrous medical conditions belie a sweet intelligence, and his otherworldly control freak of a mother, Olivia.
At once a riveting mystery and a fascinating revelation of the grotesque and the darkness in us all, Hemlock Grove has the architecture and energy to become a classic in its own right—and Brian McGreevy the talent and ambition to enthrall us for years to come.
Recently I was introduced to the world of Hemlock Grove. Have you heard of it? Odds are, if you have, it might be because of the Netflix show. But I was lucky enough to get ahold of the book, written by Brian McGreevy – and I fell in love with this world. I haven’t watched the show yet – but I totally restarted my Netflix membership so that I can start writing it after I post my review!!
So for those who might not know the premise, it’s about a young man named Peter, who happens to be a werewolf. But not any werewolf, he’s a gypsy werewolf. I totally loved that little bit of extra oddity. Peter has this offbeat vibe about him. He’s laid back, yet intense. He’s kind of a bad boy (hello, werewolf), but he’s also a good guy. Peter is a total dichotomy, and I absolutely love when a character is like that. He’s dangerous, and I love it. Peter just, for the most part, rolls with the situation…. Well, until girls start showing up dead (and torn apart) and people start looking toward him as a suspect.
Peter befriends this other guy, Roman. Roman… he’s a tough nut to crack. He’s upir, which is pretty much a vampire. But there is more to him than just his vampiric side. I think there is a touch of demon or witch, something that isn’t really named. Roman is a mystery. He’s got some supernatural powers that are pretty fucking wicked. He can pretty much bend the world to his will, and that makes him a very dangerous adversary – or a terrific friend. He’s got some very erotic tendencies and maybe you’d even call them fetishes. What it boils down to is that he is young, powerful, dangerous and very sexy. Roman also is a Godfrey, and they are like Hemlock Grove royalty. You can’t touch them.
This book has an entire cast of characters that I could go on and on about. Like Roman’s mother, Olivia, who is a bit of a lunatic in my opinion. She’s powerful, mysterious, and she would make a fab poker player. She definitely knows how to wait everything out, to see how it plays out, and then BAM, plays her cards and you’re left sitting there like you got hit by an anvil. She’s definitely a creepy and amazing woman!
So back to the plotline. Girls are dying in horrific ways. First suspicions point towards Peter, both because he’s a gypsy and because someone is opening their mouth about his hairier side. The Godfreys aren’t homefree on this front either. With power comes trouble. Everyone is tied up in this story in one way or another, and it’s hard to tell who is pulling the strings – and who only THINKS they are pulling the strings.
Hemlock Grove is a mindfuck in the very best of ways. It’s reminiscent of so many things, like Twin Peaks, Steven King, and it’s own brand of horror. Brian McGreevy definitely has his own style of writing, and it sent me to the dictionary more than once. There were times I felt the writing was a bit too prose-y. It definitely leapt off the page in a flourish. At times I found myself having to read a passage over again, to see if I was right in what I thought had happened. It’s definitely old world horror meets new world horror, with issues of class, supernatural creatures, the law, and good old fashioned familial drama. Add in a bunch of horny teenagers, and you’ve got yourself one hell of a story. This book is unlike ANY book I’ve read, so don’t even bother trying to compare it to some other books that might involve teens and the supernatural. It’s apples and oranges. This book definitely feels more like an adult themed read, some issues are quite touchy. But I love a book that pushes the boundaries and tests the limits, and that definitely happens in Hemlock Grove. Now for me, I have to go watch season one and catch up on season 2, which just started July 11. But I can tell you one thing – I am already a superfan. Read the book, and you will really see why. This is definitely not just something to rely on visually, you want to get the whole story to fully feel like you’re immersed into Hemlock Grove and all of it’s creepy sexy residents.