Book One of the Hemlock Trilogy
By Kathleen Peacock
Available now from Katherine Tegen Books (HarperCollins)
HEMLOCK contains one of the more interesting love triangles I've read in awhile. If all young adult urban fantasy/paranormal romances are going to include love triangles, then more authors should play with the set-up the way Kathleen Peacock does.
You see, Mac is attracted to both of her best friends, Jason and Kyle. But Jason used to date her other best friend, Amy. Mac isn't backing off due to being a good friend. She's backing off because things haven't been the same between the three friends since Amy was brutally murdered by a werewolf while all three of them were supposed to be with her. There's lots of guilt and secrets underlying the sexual tension.
Debut author Peacock also displays worldbuilding chops. In HEMLOCK, werewolves are out of the closet. But werewolves have no rights and are forced to live in internment camps. Hunters, known as Trackers, are unofficial but often work closely with the police. Mac isn't on the side of the Trackers, even if a werewolf did kill Amy. She's seen their brutality first hand and knows they're just a group of prejudiced bullies. But now Jason - son of a rich and powerful man - is being taken under the wing of the Tracker's leader. Mac wants to keep him safe, even as she's getting closer to Kyle.
Now, I don't want to call either the love triangle or worldbuilding perfect. I find it hard to believe the pro-werewolf side wouldn't be more popular, although I can understand why it wouldn't have much traction in Hemlock, a city were five people were recently killed by a werewolf. I was about to call something bad on the love triangle side, but just now I decided I liked it. Sometimes, neither Jason nor Kyle is that attractive. And I like it because Mac notices it and gets angry with them instead of ignoring their flaws because they're hot. Or, as her friend Serena puts it when Mac storms off in a huff, "I'd say you two are lucky if she wants either of you after the way you just acted (332, ARC)." I can take characters acting like jerks if other characters call them out on it.
I'm looking forward to the next book in the Hemlock series. HEMLOCK told a complete mystery with likeable characters, an interesting love quadrangle, and an original world. I'm looking forward to the next mystery Mac discovers.