Saturday, 10 November 2012

The Taming of the Werewolf

Level: Older teen to Adult
Genre: Historical fantasy
Obtained: Borrowed from my mother
Reviewed by: Nic Echo

Personally, I don't think this is a bad cover. Is it a great one? No, but I think it works. First, it actually shows the character, which is always nice. I guess people could complain that the wolf is the wrong colour. Well, tough. Covers are all about the visual and the black wolf looks better. Normally, I would say steer clear of centering everything, but it works in this case. The wolf's eyes also help to draw in the reader and then brings the reader down to what is assumed to be Katherina. Finally, we have the font. Usually, I hate book covers that use that Olde English style font. It's large and rarely work on a cover, especially ones that have pictures. Most of the time, the font just looks slapped on. However, the font here isn't horrible though I believe the design above it help balance it out. The one font I am not sure on is the elegant font near the top. It's not horrible, but it would probably look cleaner with a smaller font. Overall though, it's a pleasant cover. It might be a little embarrassing to men though. As for getting a potential buyer's attention, I'm not quite sure it would, and that, I think, is its biggest flaw.

About the Book:
The simplest way to summarize this book is to simply say that it is Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew, only Katherina is a werewolf. For those of you who don't know the plot of The Taming of the Shrew, you may want to read the rest of the "About the Book" section.

The plot of this well-known comedy is fairly simple. A wealthy man by the name of Baptista has two daughters, Katherina and Bianca. The latter has many suitors, but Baptista refuses to let her marry until Katherina is wed herself. The problem with this is that Katherina in known for having a fearsome temper (and in this version, she also happens to be a werewolf). However, a man who is willing to marry for money alone marries the ill-tempered Kate and uses his cunning to try to tame her.

Rating: 6/10
I have to say that I had mixed feelings about this book, to the point where I am still unsure as to whether I actually liked it or not. I loved the bits where the author weaved her words with the great bard's, and I felt that she did an excellent job. Sylvia Shults mixed the modern and Shakespearean English brilliantly together, which I, honestly, was not expecting. I feared that it would be too much of a copy/paste or that her writing wouldn't hold any of that Shakespeare charm. I am pleased that my fears were for naught. 

Well, that was what I loved in the book, but I also ended up despising Shults' writing. While I loved the intermingling of Shakespeare and Shults, I could not stand Shults when she was alone. There were times in the book when Shults would add her own elements that more as a modern style paranormal/historical romance. It was when Shults was on her own that I literally wanted to throw the book across the room. I didn't since this was not my personal copy, but I constantly had to stop reading and calm myself. The first time this happened was when Shults gave Kate a love story where she falls in love with a servant boy by the name of Amadeo. First off, the loving outside of your class is extremely overdone. That's not to say I dislike it, but it can get very old, and when you see something played out all the time, the author need quite the talent to make it seem more worthwhile to the reader. However, I think it was the "he'll be the only love in my life," tripe that had me grinding my teeth.

The other thing that bothered me when the author was writing "alone" was when Kate turns into a wolf. She still seemed human to me. Now, I am in no way saying that every werewolf should lose all it humanity. I think the human/wolf mindset is brilliant, but in my experience, few authors have been able to pull it off well. Sure Kate says she longs to take a bite out of a living rabbit, but it always felt like simple words to me. I never felt the wolf's passion in Shults' writing. Now, I do like the fact that the author integrated real wolf traits in her character. I liked that she made her werewolf more wolf like than monster like. What's more is she seemed to do her research on how wolves act (though I did find a couple of mistakes). As I said, her werewolf just too human minded for my liking.

Everything else was a tossup to me on whether I enjoyed it or not. Part of this was Sylvia Shults' giving Kate a reason to be a shrew (because being property isn't reason enough) and to dislike Bianca. I liked that she tried to flesh out Kate more, but I disliked that the author had Kate start out as your typical Renaissance woman. Personally, I liked the idea that Kate was always this stubborn woman, but that's neither here nor there. The main tossup I really had involved the ending. In the original The Taming of the Shrew, Petruchio, more or less, turns Katherina into what would have been considered the perfect female: mild, complacent, and completely obedient to her husband while in The Taming of the Werewolf, Kate and Petruchio are in love. Yes, she is still "tamed," but it is more her choice in Werewolf while in Shrew, this isn't necessarily the case. While the original work is extremely sexist to the point where it had me grinding my teeth, I also realise that this was how those times were. So yes, I wanted to punch Petruchio, but at the same time, this if 16th century Italy. With The Taming of the Werewolf, it is a lot less sexist but the whole falling in love at the end really bothers me. Sure I like Petruchio a lot more, but as I pointed out, this is 16th century Italy. Sure love is possible, but considering that Petruchio and Katherina have only been together for a few days and that Petruchio originally married Kate for money alone, it seems damn unlikely. So what's better? Having it be more authentic or having Petruchio be less of a dick and letting women (and some men) have that romantic fantasy?

Overall, this was a book of extremes for me. There were a variety of things I loved and a multitude of things I despised, making this quite the see saw. Does this book have issues? Clearly. Is it worth reading? I'd say yes. Is it worth buying? I'm not sure on that. I guess it would depend on the price for me.

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