Mandy reviews: Catherine Jinks—"The Abused Werewolf Rescue Group"
Tobias Richard Vandevelde wakes up in a hospital bed with no recollection of how he got there, or what happened the night before. He’s horrified to learn (and so is his mother) that he was found stark naked in the dingo pen at the local wildlife park. Toby immediately blames his best friends, Fergus and Amin for setting up some sort of nasty prank, but it soon becomes clear they know nothing about it.
Things begin to get weirder after the doctors can find no good reason for Toby’s memory loss (maybe Epilepsy? Drugs? Some other kind of rare condition?) and the police are also more than a little suspicious of the teenager who claims there’s nothing wrong with him – well, not that he’s aware of, anyway. Things soon leap from just plain weird to totally bizarre when Catholic priest Father Ramon Alvarez turns up on Toby’s doorstep with the mean and scruffy looking Rueben. They seem to know things about Toby they shouldn’t – his hair grows abnormally fast, his sense of smell is almost unhuman, his reflexes are super-speedy and, most astonishingly – for Toby is adopted – he is the youngest of seven sons. Then the bizarre turns insane. The priest claims Toby is a Werewolf… and so is Rueben.
Of course, Toby and his mother know there’s no such thing as Werewolves. Their visitors are thrown out of the house and threatened with a phone call to the police. But Toby is left with a nagging feeling. What if his strange guests are right? It would explain the dingo pen thing. And the haircut problem. Toby decides to find out a little more information on his own, meeting up with Rueben and his friends. That’s when the real trouble begins…
If The Abused Werewolf Rescue Group were a movie, it would be one of those where you spend the whole time with your hands over your face, peeking through the slits in your fingers. Every step Toby takes, you just know he’s going to find himself in more trouble. The story moves along lightning-fast once it gets going and there are plenty of laugh-out-loud moments. Set in both suburban Sydney and the harsh Australian Outback, Catherine Jinks paints a great picture of Australian life, be it a little on the supernatural side. Toby is a very likeable, everyday teenager; it’s easy to go along with him in his initial disbelief of his new identity, as well as understand why he eventually comes to terms with it (and that’s without a big-bad-full-moon-change scene).
The Abused Werewolf Rescue Group is a companion book to The Reformed Vampire Support Group, also by Catherine Jinks. I have to admit, I haven’t yet read about the Vampires in Jinks’s world, and they do make a few appearances here. I was a little concerned I’d find it hard to follow without reading the first book, but the stories really are separate entities and The Abused Werewolf Rescue Group stands up well on its own. It was refreshing to read a supernatural novel with a teenaged main character who wasn’t filled with lovey-dovey angst, self-loathing or a parent with issues. Instead, I found a hysterical tale full of bumbling, dangerous characters and suspenseful drama that wouldn’t let me stop reading.
Catherine Jinks – The Abused Werewolf Rescue Group
September 27th, 2010 by Allen and Unwin Children.
Paperback – 380 pages.
ISBN – 9781742373638