I have a confession to make, and I hope it won’t make you think less of me. Not every book I enjoy is the world’s most profound read. For some of you (and I know who you are – you are the readers who, like me, were profoundly grateful at the invention of the Kindle because it meant you could henceforth pretend to be reading great literature while actually devouring blush-inducing fantasy novels intended for fifteen year olds), this is not only an obvious statement of fact but also completely acceptable. Maybe you’re a speed reader like me (yes, I’m entitled to have one thing that sets me apart from the masses, and since it is definitely not running, cooking, activism, math comprehension, yoga head stands, wealth, wearing heels, charisma, etc, I will hold up my ability to skim and comprehend with pride!), in which case, you can afford to “waste your time” (gag) on books slower readers deem unworthy.
I suspect this is the case for the vast majority of readers; my husband is a slower reader, and while he gleefully pages through books like Cannery Row and Don Quixote (novels he considers worth the effort exerted), I jump from one book to the next like a man in lost in the desert – a constant flow of words, high quality or low, is what keeps me alive. For those of you who don’t fall into one of those two categories, there is a third, one I call “the powerful sense of self reader” – you are so comfortable in your own skin that regardless of how quickly you read, you feel no pressure whatsoever to care what anyone thinks of your choices. In the long list of things I’m not good at, being comfortable in my own skin is right up there, so while I know such readers exist (and annoyingly, am friends with quite of few of them), I can only envy them from afar. They probably need no excuse to review a book about menopausal women who turn into werewolves, but alas, I feel some justification is called for.
The other night, while my better half and I were curled up reading, he innocently asked, “What book are you finishing up now?” Since the books I’m reviewing are rarely ones he’s familiar with, my response always includes the title (in this case, Silver Moon) with a brief description guaranteed to get a rise out of him (it’s about menopausal women who turn into werewolves!). He stared at me blankly for a moment before saying, “well, my book has Islamic jihadists, Chinese hackers, British spies, unhinged Russian mobsters, special op soldiers, prolific fantasy writers, and an autistic snowboarder.” That’s great honey! But did you hear me?! Menopausal werewolves. When you’re making a list of things that scare me, add the word “menopausal” to any of them, and immediately you take terror to the next level. He really didn’t have much of an argument for that, but I could almost see his brain calculating how this conversation might come back to haunt him in twenty years.
So yes, Silver Moon is an unabashed look at menopausal werewolves, and I’ll be honest, I read it in large part because I thought it was an idea my mother would really get a kick out of. Overall though, I ended up enjoying the concept of the story. The idea of older women becoming werewolves, as well as the more common story-telling subject of teenage boys changing, are both wholly appropriate from a biological perspective. For men, the most significant physical changes occur during adolescence, and while that’s certainly the case for women, we also have an extra-special bonus change later in life, and in some ways, that second change feels even more significant (probably because it is often accompanied by the delightful twin side effects of grief and a feeling of cultural obsolescence).
I love the ideas that Lundoff embraces, of older women being venerated, of being the powerful protectors, of being a long way from death, though I’m not completely crazy about her style. It was a little jumpy for me to fully sink into the story, which I wanted to because it was quick-paced and funny. She creates characters that could have more stories in them, and a town that is split between believing in ancient magic and turning a blind eye to the chaos it creates. Sure, those of you working your way through the list of the 100 Greatest Fiction Books of All Times (I personally know three people doing this right now, and I swear I love them even so!) may not have time for menopausal werewolves, but for the rest of us? Hey, it’s summer! If ever there were a time to dabble in the supernatural, it’s during these long, hot June nights (which I can only imagine simulate, quite effectively, the hell that is hot flashes).
To find out more about Catherine Lundoff, pop over here.