The Mountains of Instead

Championing fiction as an escape from pandemics, politics and bad TV.

...And Dance By The Light Of The Moon (Review: Claire De Lune; C. Johnson

Claire de Lune
Christine Johnson
Simon Pulse 2010

Claire is having the perfect sixteenth birthday. Her pool party is a big success, and gorgeous Matthew keeps chatting and flirting with her as if she's the only girl there. But that night, she discovers something that takes away all sense of normalcy: she's a werewolf. As Claire is initiated into the pack of female werewolves, she must deal not only with her changing identity, but also with a rogue werewolf who is putting everyone she knows in danger. Claire's new life threatens her blossoming romance with Matthew, whose father is leading the werewolf hunt. Now burdened with a dark secret and pushing the boundaries of forbidden love, Claire is struggling to feel comfortable in either skin. With her lupine loyalty at odds with her human heart, she will make a choice that will change her forever? (blurb courtesy of Goodreads)

This is the second werewolf title that I have read recently, which is unusual as I haven't read a lot of were books prior to this. The first I one was Raised By Wolves (review here) – an interesting and indepth take on life in a werewolf pack. It was well researched, had an unusually sparky female protagonist and took some interesting plot turns. Claire de Lune is a whole different kettle of fish. It's not a bad book and it has some interesting mythology of it's own, but neither is it hugely exciting.

Protagonist Claire is your standard female lead. Sixteen, slightly on the edge of the cool crowd at school (yet not unpopular) with a crush on an equally standard male-love-interest. The story starts of at her 16th birthday party, which is disbanded due to a reported werewolf sighting – in Claire's world (which is identical to ours in every other respect), werewolves are a recognised phenomenon, and not a welcome one. Other than feeling disappointed at the departure of hot boy, Matthew, Claire is not too bothered about the rogue wolf, being more concerned with her itchy hands and odd rash. Yep, Claire's turned 16 and is about to turn wolfie. Her erstwhile rather absent mother appears to inform her that she is indeed a werewolf and from then on in things take a turn for the predictable.

Claire is nice enough as a character, but nothing new. She can be quite funny but in general just moans a lot about being a wolf (fair enough) and wonders if she can still make it with the lovely Matthew – whose father is a bit anti-lupine, to say the least. Matthew is also pleasant, but pretty two-dimensional. Very likeable, though, and I certainly found his actions and reactions to be slightly more believable than Claire's as the story progressed. Claire's mum is nothing less than irritating. Even when the author attempts to inject her character with signs of warmth, I found her to be cold and aloof. While there are attempts to explain this, none of them rang particularly true to me – I still thought she was a pretty crappy mother. The character of Lisbeth seems completely superfluous and Matthew's father is a flat villain who could have done with some padding.

The plot isn't one of particular depth, although it's fine if you don't think about it too much. The storyline moves along fairly pacily and the story of a rogue wolf would be interesting if it wasn't so entirely predictable. I'd figured out what was going on within three chapters and was absolutely right – the the very last detail. And I wasn't even trying. Saying that, there are some interesting aspects surrounding the werewolves. They are all female, for one thing, which surprised me – although the whole Goddess circle palaver started to get old really quickly. The final pages seemed to leave open a lot of loose ends and the inevitable sequel (Nocturne) is on it's way next year.

I should state however, that despite all of the flaws that I have mentioned, Claire de Lune was an enjoyable enough way to pass a few hours. It falls into the easy, escapist pleasure category of books and that is not necessarily a bad thing. While I wouldn't actively seek out the sequel, I would certainly read it if it were to fall into my lap. This is partly to do with the fact that I am aware that this is a d├ębut novel, and the first of a series so future instalments offer definite room for improvement and partly to do with the fact that, slight as they may have been, I genuinely liked Claire and Matthew and would like to find out what happens to them next. If you are looking for something new and exciting in the werewolf range, then this is not it, but if you want a fun story to pass a quick afternoon with then pick this up. Just don't expect to be overwhelmed by any genre-busting ideas.


Lauren said…
I absolutely agree with this. I was underwhelmed by the book, but I didn't actively dislike it. I agree about Matthew's father being kind of one-dimensional too, although that didn't particularly occur to me at the time.
Unknown said…
I still want to read it, reading being subjective etc. It should be my catchphrase.
I hate it when you get torn about a book.
Hmm. I've been kind of on the fence about reading this book.. I think I'm now leaning towards not actively pursuing it, but if I see it in the library *shrugs* thanks for the honest and balanced review :)
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