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Tag Archives: Catherine Jinks

The Abused Werewolf Rescue Group

These days, much of the popular paranormal fiction on YA shelves seems to be almost exclusively targeted at female audiences.

Teenage boys, however, can be thankful Catherine Jinks hasn’t forgotten them, following up her offbeat novel The Reformed Vampire Support Group (TRVSG) with another cool offering, The Abused Werewolf Rescue Group.

While the TRVSG was told from vampire Nina’s perspective, her latest novel is told through the eyes of 13-year-old Toby, who learns the hard way that his onset of hormones has also brought on the onset of latent lycanthropy.

Jinks turned vampire mythology on its head (her Sydney-based blood suckers are sickly and vulnerable, and not remotely interested in epic romances), and while she doesn’t take quite as many liberties with her werewolves, she still stays firmly grounded in realism.

Readers of TRVSG will be pleased to see the return of Rueben, the werewolf inadvertently rescued by the vampires (while they were timidly trying to track down a ‘slayer’).

It’s Rueben who tries to convince Toby he’s a werewolf (after the teenager is found dazed in a dingo pen after the last full moon).  Not surprisingly, Toby thinks Rueben and his friends – the motely crew from TRVSG – are a bunch of weirdos, and it’s not until he’s kidnapped by men with more sinister motives that he begins to change his mind.

The story treads some familiar territory of TRVSG, but from a more masculine perspective (and, of course, is focused on werewolves, not vampires).

This time around the tone is darker and the story more violent (hard not to be when the plot centres on young werewolves being imprisoned and essentially turned into cage fighting pit bulls), but it’s never overdone, and there is still plenty of humour to stave off any real menace.

The pace is also faster this time around, with the action kicking in almost immediately, and then ramping up once Toby is kidnapped – and starts to realise Rueben wasn’t a complete nut job.

Again Jinks keeps her story unashamedly Australian, which for me was a big part of the book’s appeal.

And no, I’m not a teenage boy, but I still enjoyed it. I hope Jinks continues on with this group of characters, as there’s certainly plenty more she can do with them.


The vampires you’re having when you’re not having vampires…

If urban fantasy has taught us nothing, it’s that vampires are either terrifying or sexy, or both. And, of course, they’re generally violent and dangerous.

But in Catherine Jinks’ excellent and funny novel The Reformed Vampire Support Group, the vampires are far from powerful. In fact, they’re sickly, socially isolated and living on a diet of guinea pigs, barely able to defend themselves.

Fifteen-year-old Nina has been a vampire since 1973. She’s part of a fairly pathetic group of vamps who meet once a week for therapy sessions to help them refrain from ‘fanging’ humans).

But the vamps’ tedious world is threatened when one of their members is murdered by an unknown – and unexpected – vampire slayer.

Terrified they’ll each be hunted, they decide to track their enemy (supported by Nina’s aging mother and a sympathetic Catholic priest), assuming that once the slayer sees how pathetic and harmless they are they’ll be left alone.

Outside of their comfort zone and ill-equipped for danger, Nina and her fellow vamps stumble into a world of guns, thugs, werewolves and vicious humans.

The classic about-face for this book is that the tension comes from the vampire’s vulnerability, and Nina’s efforts to rise above her fear.

Jinks even manages to have fun with the whole vampire-werewolf love triangle. Nina’s best friend is the cool but downbeat Dave – also a vampire since his teens – and together they rescue a volatile werewolf, who is actually a teenager. Nina’s lack of experience with romantic feelings makes her reaction to both guys frequently entertaining.

While the vampire mythology here deviates from pretty much everything in the literary world at the moment, it is deftly constructed and Jinks keeps within the lines she’s drawn. When Nina and Dave show moments of heroics, it’s in spite of their vampirism, not because of it.

Jinks is a well established Australian author with a long list of books for children and young adults. This one sits in the YA shelf, which is interesting given the narrative character is actually 51 years old (trapped in a 15-year-old body). As such, it should also find an older readership.

The Reformed Vampire Support Group is a fun read, packed with plenty of suspense, a clever plot and a nice sprinkle of understated romance.

Definitely one of my favourite reads of recent months. (And the good news is Jinks has The Abused Werewolf Rescue Group due out this year.)

Covers are from Margaret Connolly & Associates (the first one is the Australian version, and the second, an edgier version is for the UK market).