Hemlock Grove refers to the town in Pennsylvania where things are anything but ordinary - including its citizens. Most recently there has been a series of brutal murders in the area, which many believe to be the work of Peter Rumancek, a Gypsy who just moved to town with his mother. The rumor around town that Peter is a werewolf is actually true, and despite this fact, Peter is befriended by Roman Godfrey, heir to the richest estate in town. Together, the two try to figure out who the killer so they can stop him/her.
Easily the most engaging element in Hemlock Grove is the wonderful cast of characters that McGreevy has created. I'm always up for anything weird, grotesque, or macabre and there is plenty of all of these types of people in this story. But though they are all definitely not normal, at their core all these characters and their relationships are just like everyone else's. They deal with love and betrayal and desire - just maybe not in the ways you or I would. With an omniscient viewpoint, we get to hear about all these strange stories from many different characters, though Roman and Peter are the two mains.
The Godfrey family is the oddest bunch of all with son Roman, his sister Shelley, and their mother Olivia. I honestly still have no idea what is up with Shelley. She is described as monstrous, with some strange medical malady, but I couldn't tell you what it was if you held a gun to my head. Something to do with the Ouroboros project at the Godfrey's biotech facility, I think, but it's never really that clear. Still, Shelley is a kind person on the inside, and I absolutely loved her relationship with Roman and his protectiveness of her. Roman has a bit of mind control power that comes from his being a vampire (or almost a vampire), and interestingly, he doesn't even know he's a vampire. He sometimes uses this mind control for good and sometimes uses it for evil. There is one really horrific scene with Roman and another person that I thought was going to make me absolutely hate him for the rest of the novel, but somehow McGreevy makes it work for his character. Olivia was definitely my favorite, perhaps moreso because I know she's played by Famke Janssen in the show, and I freaking love that woman. Anyway, Olivia is the overbearing matriarch of the Godfrey clan, portrayed as pretty much a bitch. I had a feeling though that she had some weird and mysteriously tragic past that made her that way. I was happy to read at the end that I was right, and in fact her secret ends up being so much bigger than I would have thought. It brings this whole macabre tale to a wonderful and surprising ending that you hopefully will not see coming.
|Author Brian McGreevy|
McGreevy's writing style is definitely unique. The humor is wonderfully dry and sometimes comes out of nowhere, making you laugh out loud when you least expect to. My only complaint about Hemlock Grove is that it is not really written for the layman. This is a book about weird people doing weird things and the style definitely reflects that, and also the tone and mood of the story, but sometimes things get very confusing and hard to follow. I often found myself rereading several sentences throughout the novel to make sure I got the right meaning. Much of this was from McGreevy's use of run-on sentences, a style choice that was obviously intended, and sometimes it worked by adding to the humor in the piece, and sometimes just got on my nerves a little bit.
No small style choice could make me forget how much I loved this book. Hemlock Grove is unbelievably creative and so different from the norm in either werewolf or vampire stories. It is a more than welcome breath of fresh air that is more character-driven than action-driven, but with these delicious characters, that is just fine with me. McGreevy's twisted wit and tone make Hemlock Grove and definite must-read for any genre fan looking for something completely unlike anything they've read before.