Time Warner Paperbacks, 2001, 460pp, £6.99, ISBN 0-7515-3094-8
Are you the sort of person who reads for intellectual stimulation and betterment of self? If so you might as well skip this review. If, on the other hand, you like a rollicking good romp without a scent of pretension then read on…
It has to be said that Bitten’s opening does not bode well: a werewolf changing form and running through the city streets, eventually reaching the outskirts. It’s meant to make you empathise with the differing perspectives of life as a shape-shifter. It doesn’t. But, skip the first chapter and things start to get much better. The story concerns Elena, the only female werewolf in existence, who has left the sanctity of her Pack and is trying to live a normal life in downtown Toronto, if that’s possible. She has a normal job and a normal boyfriend, who has a normal family. Heaven forbid, they even talk about going shopping together. But this idyllic existence cannot continue and she is called back to her Pack to help sort out the mystery of a number of errant werewolves causing problems in the locality and threatening the sanctity of the Pack itself.
If you’ve read the Anita Blake novels (by Laurell K. Hamilton), you’ll have a good idea of what you might expect from Bitten. Our heroine is a sassy, independent woman who just happens to be a supernatural entity – with a perverse need to note the brand and condition of her footwear (Reeboks here trainer fans, none of your Nikes with a blue swoosh). There’s a mystery that needs solving. There’s an unwanted (but we all know she secretly desires him) ex-lover, who turned her into a werewolf – the cad – but wants her back, and has to play for her affections against the sensible boyfriend, who naturally has no idea about her lycanthropic disposition. All the appropriate werewolf myths are confirmed or dispelled and to cap it off, there’s lashings of sex and gore. Hang on, let’s pause for a second; werewolf sex sounds slightly dodgy (or should that be doggy?) and potentially furry too. Fortunately the sex remains strictly human but suitably mongrel in nature.
It’s not the greatest prose in the world, but it’s a fun story that keeps the pages turning at a sprightly rate, surely no bad thing. Give it a go, you might end up a touch smitten with Bitten.