________________ CM . . . . Volume XXI Number 28 . . . . March 27, 2015


Thornhill. (Hemlock, Book 2).

Kathleen Peacock.
New York, NY: Katherine Tegen Books (Distributed in Canada by HarperCollins Canada), 2013.
342 pp., trade pbk., $12.50.
ISBN 978-0-06-204869-1.

Subject Headings:
Juvenile detention homes-Fiction.
Mystery and detective stories.

Grades 8-11 / Ages 13-16.

Review by Kim Aippersbach.

***½ /4



As the guards flung open the door to the last booth and tased the boy inside, I backed up quickly—as though frightened—and collided with Mel as hard as I could.

Startled, she dropped her blood sample. Mine hit the ground a nanosecond later as a bolt of pain shot through my shoulder.

"Sorry!" I gasped. I crouched and scooped up the plastic envelopes before she had a chance. Trying for an apologetic smile, I handed her my sample.

Mel frowned as she took the envelope, then focused her attention back on the guards as they hauled the boy—now unconscious—out of the room. "He has trouble around blood," she said, her voice a faint croak.

There's an understatement, I thought.

I turned and headed for the cart.

Kyle was staring at my hand. He started forward, but one of the guards stepped toward him, Taser out, and ordered him to stay with the others. Kyle did as he was told, but didn't take his eyes off me.

My stolen envelope suddenly felt like it weighed a ton. It was a relief to hand it—along with my first name—to the man in white.

Thornhill is book two of the "Hemlock" trilogy, an exciting mystery/suspense story with a different take on werewolves: Lupine Syndrome (LS) is spreading around North America, infecting everyone who gets scratched or bitten by a carrier. Narrator and main character Mac is a reg, not infected, but her boyfriend Kyle is a werewolf. At the end of Hemlock, the first book, Kyle leaves town to look for a safe refuge from the Trackers, a vigilante group that hunts people with LS.

      Thornhill begins with Mac and her two friends, Jason (a reg) and Serena (a werewolf), driving across the country to find Kyle. They discover Kyle with a pack of werewolves led by Hank, Mac's father who abandoned her several years ago. Now she learns that he only abandoned her because he contracted LS and didn't want to put her in danger. The irresponsible parent she remembers with resentment is now a leader trying to keep a group of werewolves safe. Trackers discover their hideout, however, and Mac is rounded up with a bunch of werewolves and taken to Thornhill, a newly built internment camp. In order to stay with Kyle and Serena, Mac switches blood samples with another werewolf.

      The rest of the plot of Thornhill involves attempting to escape the camp while discovering the dark secrets at its heart. Camp scientists are experimenting on the young werewolves, supposedly to find a cure, but really to learn how to control them. Jason gets himself hired on as a guard, and he and Hank coordinate a plan that gets Mac out of the camp. But Kyle and Serena are still inside, and Serena is being drugged and tortured. Mac insists on joining an assault on the camp that destroys it and releases all the werewolves. The immediate problem of Thornhill is solved, but Serena may never recover from what was done to her, and they are all worried that the destruction of the camp will cause a backlash against werewolves, making their overall situation even worse. Plus, Kyle thinks he might choose to leave Mac and stay with Hank's pack. So the ending isn't a cliff-hanger, but readers will want to have the third book on hand!

      Thornhill avoids middle book syndrome with a self-contained plot arc and plenty of action and mystery. Adding Hank as a character gives depth to Mac's development. Readers also meet Eve, a werewolf to whom Hank is a father figure, so Mac has a range of opportunities to reevaluate her relationship with her father, with all the emotional complications that entails. The Mac-Kyle-Jason love triangle that was suggested in Hemlock is developed somewhat, though romance definitely takes the back seat to action in Thornhill, and there are only a few kissing scenes.

      Peacock goes beyond typical werewolf tropes and gives her novel scope to consider the societal implications of a plague that makes people dangerous. What are the ethics of interning infected people against their will? Do they still count as human? This isn't new territory, but it elevates Thornhill above similar teen angst/paranormal offerings.

      Thornhill is a fast, exciting read. The plot has some contrived moments, and the mystery of Thornhill is predictable, but the pacing of suspense and action scenes carries the reader briskly through.

      Readers who enjoyed Hemlock will be happy to devour Thornhill. The series will appeal to readers of YA paranormal and dystopian novels as well as to those who enjoy more realistic suspense/thrillers. Guy readers who want to find out what the werewolf genre has to offer might give this series a try.


Kim Aippersbach, a writer, editor and mother of three, lives in Vancouver, BC.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.

Next Review | Table of Contents for This Issue - March 27, 2015.

CM Home
| Back Issues | Search | CM Archive | Profiles Archive