WEREWORLD, RISE OF THE WOLF
Author: Curtis Jobling
Publisher: Puffin (Penguin Books Aust)
CURTIS Jobling has created a fascinating world in Wereworld, Rise of the Wolf, the first in a new supernatural/fantasy series for teens.
This fast-paced, swashbuckling adventure is set in The Seven Realms, a mythical world with a medieval flavour, ruled by "werelords".
The king of the Seven Realms has always been of the royal line of werewolfs.
But the last werewolf king was murdered by the werelion King Leopold who now rules over the other lords, including wererats, werefoxes and even weresharks.
It's a world that's far away from the life of a farmer's son called Drew, a 16-year-old boy who can pick up the scent of predators and seems somehow different to his father, mother and brother.
But when his body starts to transform when he sees a monster kill his mother, Drew is forced to flee from his family and hide in a remote forest.
Captured and tortured by Leopold's soldiers, he learns he is of the werewolf royal line.
That means Leopold wants Drew dead, even though the king is wed to the murdered king's wife.
Drew escapes with the help of a young werelord called Hector and abducts the fiancée of Leopold's son Lucas, the sharp-tongued werefox Gretchen.
But there seems little a 16-year-old can do to save either the realm or himself.
Especially when he can't control the dangerous animal within.
What sets Wereworld apart is Jobling's wonderfully created world and the myriad of interesting characters, from Gretchen (does Drew really dislike her as much as he thinks?) to Lord Bergan to Count Vega.
The book is uneven at the start but by chapter three I was enthralled by Jobling's fantasy world.
The story sweeps along at a good pace and draws the reader in. Drew is a particularly sympathetic and real character and I was caught up in what befell him, devastated by the odds stacked against him, and hoping against hope that somehow he could survive and even have it all - knowledge of who he is, control of his "powers", the crown and the girl.
Wereworld, Rise of the Wolf, is a fun fantasy/adventure romp and the start of what should be an excellent series.
Oh, and though it's for teens, some of us who are young at heart, if nothing else, will still find it gripping reading.