Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Barking by Tom Holt

This standalone novel by Tom Holt twists the werewolf-vampire trope into a humorous story about belonging and the magic of chartered accountancy. An old childhood friend inserts himself into the life of our protagonist. Is being a dull junior lawyer doing estate law different from being the junior monster in a werewolf pack?
No, he argued with himself, it’s not the magnificent heightened senses and superpowers and all that stuff. It’s not even the changing into an animal, because that’s great. It’s them: Luke, Pete, the bloody Ferris Gang. I was right to leave them and wrong to come back. If only I can get away from them for good; New Mexico— 
But that wouldn’t be possible, would it? Your wolf is first and foremost a pack animal. He’s part of a group. He belongs. Now, belonging is a wonderful thing, as opposed to being isolated and lonely and nobody in the world giving a damn. But like everything else, it depends. Above all, it depends on who you belong to.
This is a fun and surprising take on werewolves. Comparing and contrasting the pack mentality with being a lawyer, and a dull estate lawyer in particular, in a law firm turns out to be a great source for humor.
Biscuits: he remembered them, vaguely. They belonged to a world where people were people, rather than werewolves, zombies, vampires or unicorns; a place he might once have taken for granted, but never again. The events of the last two days suddenly rushed up around him, like flood water, and he huddled in his chair, his face in his hands, as though his memories were a cloud of buzzing flies.
Holt apposes mundane office life with the fantastic to make the fantastic both mundane and silly. The problems of werewolf life include maintaining pack order, not chewing the furniture, getting drinks in down at the pub, and not snacking on cats.
A quiet room somewhere with no windows, a calculator and a pencil, and that’d be the end of Bowden Allshapes. A few calculations, some straightforward addition, the two bottom lines would balance and that’d be it. Accountancy as a lethal weapon; death by double entry. And then he’d be free.
The central conflict of the book revolves around trying to balance the numbers in a set of books. It is less a werewolf story than it is about identity and finding where you belong... and the magic of accounting. Plus there's a unicorn.

Finished 12/11/2016 8:02 AM