Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Hemlock Grove or, The Wise Wolf, by Brian McGreevy

(pb; 2012)

From the inside flap:

"The body of a young girl is found mangled and murdered in the woods of Hemlock Grove, Pennsylvania, in the shadow of the abandoned Godfrey steel mill.  A manhunt ensues - though the authorities aren't sure if it's a man they should be looking for.

"Some suspect an escapee from White Tower, a foreboding biotech facility owned by the Godfrey family - their personal fortune and the local economy having moved on from Pittsburgh steel - where, if the rumors are true, biological experiments of the most unethical kind take place.  Others turn to Peter Rumancek, a Gypsy trailer-trash kid who has told an impressionable high school classmate that he's a werewolf.  Or maybe it's Roman, the son of the late JR Godfrey, who rules the adolescent social scene with the casual arrogance of a cold-blooded aristocrat, his superior status unquestioned despite his decidedly freakish sister, Shelley, whose monstrous medical conditions belie a sweet intelligence, and his otherworldly control freak of a mother, Olivia."


Hemlock Grove is a mostly well-written and entertaining hodgepodge of Frankensteinian experimentation, small town life and lycanthropy.  McGreevy has a clear love of striking phrases and scenes, as well as a love of language itself.   The characters are simultaneously familiar and engaging.

I use the phrase "mostly well-written" to describe Hemlock because of the author's occasional ill-advised point of view changes in the middle of scenes - he goes from third person omniscient to a different first-person present tense without section breaks and without warning (and often for only a line or two); these abrupt shifts jarred me out of this otherwise solid story. 

McGreevy easily has the potential to pen an excellent novel, but this isn't that novel - though, with a few choice edits, it could have been.  Borrow this from the library.


The resulting Netflix series began airing on April 19, 2013.  Eli Roth serves as an executive producer on the show.

Landon Liboiron plays Peter Rumancek.  Bill Skarsgård  plays Roman Godfrey.  Penelope Mitchell plays Letha Godfrey.   Famke Janssen plays Olivia Godfrey.  Lilli Taylor plays Lynda Rumancek.  Freya Tingley plays Christina Wendell.  Kaniehtiio Horn plays Destiny Rumancek. 

Dougray Scott plays Norman Godfrey.  Joel de la Fuenta plays Dr. Jonathan Pryce.    Ted Dykstra plays Francis Pullman.  Laurie Fortier plays Marie Godfrey. 

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