“Werecats Emergent” by Mark Engels

This is a paranormal novel with an unusual approach to werewolves. Most of these stories glorify the power and beauty of the species, while throwing them enough difficulties to keep the story interesting. These werecats find their genetic malformation a life-threatening handicap, almost uncontrollable. A great deal of the conflict in the story revolves around attempts to use modern medical technique to save, maintain, and perhaps, far down the series, find a cure for the afflicted.

The strength of the story is the characters and their natural interaction.  The best of the conflict comes from the complex plotline, with many different members of the family on different projects, some not completely compatible. Adding to their problems is the tendency of the irresponsible teenage twins to act like…well… irresponsible teenagers.

The reading experience is also boosted by numerous action sequences, some more clearly described than others. The standout scene is not a battle, but a barge load of equipment shaking loose in a monster storm on the Great Lakes, and the crew’s efforts to rescue themselves and their equipment. A minor kick for Canadian readers is the side plot involving the teenagers working out their energies as hockey players.

On the downside, this book shows all the evidence of a beginning writer working without the benefit of a good editor.

One error that I found irritating is overuse of “before” and “after.” The wonders of modern computing allow me to tell you that both prepositions were used more than a hundred times, many of them misuses. Let me explain:

“She stopped short after rounding the corner” may sound normal, but if you look at it carefully from the reader’s point of view, she stops short, then she goes back in time and rounds the corner, then the story continues. “She rounded the corner and stopped short,” is more straightforward.

Also, point of view control is weak, which sometimes makes it difficult to follow the action scenes and know who is doing what. Sentence fragments can be used to create quick, choppy action sequences, but when overused they, too, become irritating.

And the usual problem in the exposition section, extending way too far into the action part of the book: too much background info constantly slowing down the action.

This book is wonderful scenario with a fresh approach and realistic character portrayal, but it is presented in a helter-skelter fashion. With a lot of tightening and polishing, this could be a great series.

3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)

About the Author: Gordon Long

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