TW: This book contains graphic scenes of a sexual nature as well as descriptions of rape and torture
‘The battered cardboard betrayed the age of the box, far older than the others that Crystal had brought from her dad’s house. She knew at once what was inside, her stomach clenching in anticipation and guilt before she even saw the name ‘Danny’ scrawled across the side.’
Werewolves are kept as slaves. Exploited to perform dangerous labour, or kept as exotic pets by rich sadists who want a status symbol, werewolves have no rights.
When Crystal’s brother is bitten by a rogue werewolf, her family is advised to think of him as dead. But she refuses to forget him.
Looking for news from within the werewolf community leads her to purchase Thomas, a rebellious werewolf with a string of abusive former owners. Crystal and Thomas must learn to trust each other enough to help solve each other’s problems. Together, they can work to build a movement aimed at bringing rights and justice to all.
What I thought
The idea that werewolves are being used as slaves is a really interesting one and something I had never seen or even thought about before. Werewolves are known for having super strength and as they are no longer human the minute they have been bitten they lose all their human rights. Without their human rights they have no protection and are bought and sold as slaves. If a family member is turned your told to think of them as dead, they are no longer human and are not allowed any links to any family members ever again.
Crystal is unable to move on from the loss of her brother and in a moment of madness decides she’ll buy a werewolf so he can help her find her brother. Moments of madness are a recurring theme in this book. For all her academic and research smarts Crystal isn’t great at thinking things through, she’ll do something and then worry about all the problems later. Or she’ll get reminded of all of the problems later by Thomas or her father.
She’s a great character, very instinctive and has a strong feeling of right and wrong once her eyes have been fully opened to what is going on around her. She knows that werewolves aren’t treated well but isn’t fully aware of the situation, more than that as an outsider she isn’t truly able to understand the full horror of the situation until Thomas explains it all to her. One of the first things she’s given when she goes to go buy a werewolf is a device to give them an electric shock is they aren’t behaving correctly/not doing something fast enough/you had a bad day and want to take it out on someone. Crystal is, rightly, horrified at what she discovers and accidently ends up starting a resistance.
And it really is an accident. Someone contacted her to ask more about her aims/how they could get involved and she goes ‘oh, yeah that’s a thing…’. Make no mistake Crystal and Thomas are both smart and make a brilliant team but neither one of them has any idea what they are doing and are both stumbling along in trying to change people’s perceptions.
Due to the nature of how werewolves are being treated there are many moments that are uncomfortable to read, and descriptions of torture as well as rape. It’s not one of the most shocking moments, but one of the moments that explains just how badly the weres are treated is when Thomas tells the story of a previous owner who was an advocate of animal rights and yet would come home every day and beat Thomas up. Werewolves are thought of as lesser creatures and with less importance than animals. This isn’t a book for younger readers or readers who are sensitive to blood and gore, I’m normally ok with it but there were definitely a few times were I had to put the book down and recalibrate.
Why I read it
‘Equal rights for werewolves’ is too good a pitch to turn down. I bought this at Cardiff Film and Comic Con in May and read it a month later. The only reason I left it am month was because I came straight back from Con to a new job and my bag of books took a while to be moved from the floor to the bookcase.
My friend and I were drawn to Jessica’s table purely because of the books and both left with 3/4 books. Annoyingly I haven’t read any of the others yet, she was absolutely lovely and won over my instinctive dislike for paranormal romance.
This was a really enjoyable book that went in ways I wasn’t expecting and constantly kept me interested and surprised as Crystal stumbled her way through one problem to another. This moves from being a really personal story about saving one person to realising that there is a much wider problem and taking that burden onto herself. Her relationship with Thomas feels very real as does how Thomas slowly opens up to her about just how bad life is for weres.
There are some more explicit sexual scenes and description of torture that make this book unsuitable for younger readers. The reality for life and a werewolf is not a pretty one and the author doesn’t hid away for what life is like as a slave and what people can do to you.
I’m really glad that I met Jessica Meats at Cardiff con and am looking forward to reading more of her books, I would love to read more in this world and see how the push for equal rights continues to grow as well as the relationship between Thomas and Crystal.
Would I recommend? It’s not for younger YA and there are some really shocking scenes but I would definitely recommend this one if you are looking for a gritty paranormal romance.
PopSugar: LGBTQ+ protagonist, animal in the title, problem facing society today.
I really wish I wrote more about this book because it is a great one. Unfortunately the world is fighting against me and although I have things to say I don’t know how to say it. So my apologies for not doing this book justice.
Also the photo is one from Cardiff Con of Jessica Meats with Phil-The-Dalek and her wolf. Phil has been coming to cons with me for the past 5 years and is becoming fairly well known by the regulars and the other volunteers at the events I go to and crew at.
Please leave a comment, letting me know what you think about the concept, would you read it, and if you have what you think.
P.S The next review is ‘Gazelle in the Shadows’ by Michelle Peach.