Werewolves have never been my thing, but Stephen Graham Jones’s MONGRELS reinvents the werewolf tale with a smart, raw, fresh, fun tale I thoroughly enjoyed.
MONGRELS is a coming-of-age story, focusing on a boy growing up in a family of werewolves, primarily his Uncle Darren and Aunt Libby. They raise him with an understanding of how werewolves can survive in the modern world, but as he grows older, the werewolf world eludes him, and he wonders if he’ll ever make the change and become one of them.
Otherwise, there isn’t much a plot, as this is an episodic tale, bouncing around in time as the boy grows up. The family is constantly poor and on the move due to their werewolf adventures stirring things up. They scrape to get by in the human world and thrive in their nocturnal world. Darren can’t help but go out and joyfully seek out trouble. Trouble seems to find the wiser Libby. And the boy, a keen student of the life he wants to live, navigates these upsets with smarts learned on the road.
I loved this story. Jones reinvents the werewolf trope with feeling and wit. Every incident the werewolves plow into is entertaining, and the insights about what it’s like to be a werewolf and how to survive is interesting and engaging. There’s little fat on the story, it’s all bone and muscle. The cathartic and satisfying ending has a lot of heart.
Check it out if you’re into werewolves or looking to be surprised with a satisfying reinvention.