Book Review: Hemlock

Hemlock (Hemlock #1)
Published By: Katherine Tegen Books
Publication Date: May 8, 2012
Page Count: 400
Source: ARC Kindly Provided by Publisher
Audience: Young Adult - Supernatural Mystery, Urban Fantasy

Hemlock was not anything I expected it to be, but everything I wanted to read at the time. I knew this one was about werewolves and I have to admit that made me nervous. The YA market is flooded with supernatural books at the moment and while I love this genre, I am really looking for authors who can make their book stand out in the midst of so many. Kathleen Peacock certainly accomplishes that lofty task with Hemlock. This book is not just a werewolf story - its also a murder mystery. The combination of the supernatural and mystery is an alluring combination that will have readers' frantically flipping pages as they devour this book. 

Kathleen Peacock has delivered an impressive debut novel that is full of friendship, romance, intrigue, and werewolves. I think the main character, Mac, sums up this book with her line, "I don't remember Nancy Drew ever having to deal with werewolf murders" (ARC, page 270). Peacock's writing is solid, the plot is well paced, and her characters are realistic. Mac, Amy, Jason, and Kyle all have some sort of baggage that they bring to the story which interferes with them being able to move smoothly through the plot. I was fascinated by how each one of them learned to handle their flaws. I loved each and every one of them.

Hemlock at its core is a murder mystery. It took me about half the book to start to form a solid theory about the culprit. In the end, I turned out to have the right person, but I didn't have all the facts about why they were at all fault. However, once everything was out in the open, it was easy for me to think back and see where I had missed the little clues along the way. Even though I found the killer element to be predictable, it didn't deter me from enjoying the novel. There are so many things happening in this one that its hard not to get sucked into the moment. Peacock does a beautiful job of putting the reader into the middle of the action.

In addition, I really enjoyed Peacock's take on werewolves. In her universe, werewolves are made from contracting Lupine Syndrome (LS). While the whole idea of supernatural beings existing because of a disease is not a new concept, I did like that Peacock added additional elements. For example, the U.S. population is well aware of the existence of werewolves and those who have LS are required to add their name to the rosters. People on the rosters are taken to camps to keep them separate from the general population. Many sufferers of LS keep their condition a secret so that they can continue living in mainstream society. Those with LS who do not register and go to the camps willingly are hunted down by Trackers. The Trackers are a group of militant vigilantes who believe that the only good werewolf is a dead one. The symbolism of the clash between the wolves and the Trackers is one that can be translated to many issues in modern society. We constantly see a small group that is different being oppressed by the dominant group. While the Trackers are supposed to be the good guys, it becomes obvious to the reader that they are anything but. The whole werewolves vs. Trackers made me think of the Salem Witch Hunts. Everyone in town becomes paranoid and people are often labeled as being infected when they have done nothing wrong and are still 100% human.

The theme of guilt is also one that runs throughout this novel. Each of the three friends left behind - Mac, Kyle, and Jason - blames themselves for Amy's murder. It was interesting to see how their guilt affected their actions around one another and their relationships. As the book progresses, each character gets a chance to come to terms with their guilt. The search for Amy's killer brings about forgiveness and a chance to allow their friend to finally rest in peace.

Hemlock is equal parts werewolf and mystery which makes for an addictive read. I'm already anxious to get more from this world. Kathleen Peacock is certainly an author to watch. Hemlock is certainly a book you need to pick up when it hits the shelves in May.

One Last Gripe: I wanted to know more about the camps. I know they are horrible places, but I wish more had been explained about what happens behind those gates.

My Favorite Thing About This Book: Peacock's writing - her description is superb 

First Sentence: Blood ran down my hands in thin rivers.

Favorite Character: Mac

Least Favorite Character: Alexis

Mackenzie and Amy were best friends. Until Amy was brutally murdered.

Since then, Mac’s life has been turned upside down. She is being haunted by Amy in her dreams, and an extremist group called the Trackers has come to Mac’s hometown of Hemlock to hunt down Amy’s killer: A white werewolf. 

Lupine syndrome—also known as the werewolf virus—is on the rise across the country. Many of the infected try to hide their symptoms, but bloodlust is not easy to control. 

Wanting desperately to put an end to her nightmares, Mac decides to investigate Amy’s murder herself. She discovers secrets lurking in the shadows of Hemlock, secrets about Amy’s boyfriend, Jason, her good pal Kyle, and especially her late best friend. Mac is thrown into a maelstrom of violence and betrayal that puts her life at risk. 

Kathleen Peacock’s thrilling novel is the first in the Hemlock trilogy, a spellbinding urban fantasy series filled with provocative questions about prejudice, trust, lies, and love. 


  1. This sounds so interesting! Definitely going on my wishlist. Great review! :)

    1. Thanks, Nicola! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

  2. Thanks for the review of Hemlock! I've been really excited to read it and it's great hearing that you enjoyed it so much! With a beautiful cover, the supernatural, and mystery aspects too... I'm sure I'll be loving it! :)

    1. I hope you love it too! I'm so excited to read the rest of the trilogy. I agree - the cover is gorgeous.


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