CM . . .
. Volume XX Number 1. . . .September 6, 2013
The Night Has Claws. (The Magdeburg Trilogy, Book Two).
Halifax, NS: Fierce Ink Press, 2013.
269 pp., trade pbk., Kindle & eBook, $11.99 (pbk.), $7.99 (Kindle), $7.99 (eBook),.
ISBN 978-0-9917937-5-4 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-927746-01-1 (Kindle), ISBN 978-1-927746-02-8 (eBook).
Grades 8-10 / Ages 13-15.
Review by Ann Ketcheson.
Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.
“When she speaks, her words are tinged with a hint of bitterness. “You don’t get it, Connor. The bitten can’t live with humans, and unlike you we don’t get invitations to join wolf packs. That doesn’t leave us with a lot of options.”
“If it’s any consolation, the pack isn’t all that.”
“Don’t be stupid.”
“How is that being stupid?” I sit upright in irritation. “I’m not like them. I wasn’t born a pack werewolf. I don’t understand the way they think or act. I was born human just like you. Besides which, you have choices. Like you said, life’s what you make it.”
She leans toward me. “There are so many things you have zero clue about. The Hounds put rules in place to keep us safe – to keep all of this,” she says with a wave of her fight hand indicating the city around us, “safe. The wolf packs don’t care. They’d just disappear into the forests and abandon us if they could. Maybe it would be easier if we could just peg whole groups as heroes or villains but the world doesn’t work like that. Everything is just a shade of gray. Sometimes all you can do is side with the lesser evil.”
“You’re not exactly making them out to be shining beacons of light.”
“They’re not, but they bring order to all of this chaos,” she says as she sits back in her seat. “You wanted the truth. That’s my version of it.”
In The Night Has Teeth (Vol. XIX, No. 11, Nov. 16, 2012)), the first book of “The Magdeburg Trilogy”, readers met Connor Lewis, a 17-year-old who had accepted a scholarship to study in Paris. He is socially inept, rather gullible, and somewhat nerdy. In The Night Has Claws, the trilogy’s second volume, Connor has become a werewolf. The exact opposite has happened to Arden who, in the first book, was a werewolf but was ‘cured’ against his will and is now completely human. Readers will recall that scientist Henri Boguet discovered the cure during his studies of genetics and, oddly enough, Connor’s DNA. Connor has now been subpoenaed to testify against Boguet at a trial arranged by the Hounds of God, werewolf lawmakers and enforcers for centuries. Should Connor testify as he is asked and remain true to Roul and the pack werewolves he leads? Or should he support the Hounds in their effort to maintain law and order? The trial at the climax of the novel is a major test of Connor’s judgement and loyalty.
Kat Kruger once again takes readers into her imaginary world inhabited by both humans and werewolves and underlines the battle between two types of werewolves: the born and the bitten. It is a tribute to Kruger that once readers enter this mysterious world it becomes absolutely believable in its own paranormal way. The opening of the novel is once again set in Paris and then moves to Germany for the trial. In this book, neither setting is of particular importance. The cobblestones and monastery of the German section of the book could be in any European country, lending a medieval and mysterious aura to the action.
This novel provides a mixture of themes. It is a coming-of-age novel wherein Connor must learn to take responsibility for his actions and where he truly learns the depth of feeling behind the apology of ‘mea culpa’. The book also explores relationships: those between a father and his sons as well as the romantic entanglements between various characters. As suggested in the excerpt, there is also the theme of just what constitutes a hero or a villain and the difficulty we have distinguishing between the two depending on the circumstances. Justice in the novel does exist in shades of grey.
Urban fantasy, the paranormal, adventure, romance - all of these ingredients can be found in The Night Has Claws. At times, Kruger seems to force the pace of the action simply to keep the plot moving. As well, the narration shifts from Connor to Madison from time to time which can be temporarily confusing until the voice becomes clear. These are minor concerns, however, and Kruger keeps readers’ attention right up to the climactic trial and ensuing chaos.
Readers will find the novel confusing if they have not read the first volume of the trilogy since the characters have a history with one another and this book builds from the first. Kruger evidently has more plans for Connor and intimates at the end of the story that he will assume an even more important role in the third volume of the trilogy.
Kruger takes her readers to her strange yet wonderful world of werewolves, humans and those in-between the two species and provides characters who are rational and logical in many ways and yet who show their capacity for empathy and emotion as well. There is something here for any young adult reader, male or female, and all trilogy readers will be eager to see the upcoming completion of the saga of Connor and all of the others they have come to know through Kruger’s skilful fiction.
Ann Ketcheson, a retired teacher-librarian and high school teacher of English and French, lives in Ottawa, ON.
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