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ARC Review: Hemlock by Kathleen Peacock

my thoughts in a few sentences: : I totally knew Hemlock by Kathleen Peacock was going to be an INTENSE paranormal murder mystery—and that is definitely the story’s most compelling, most promising element, and what sets it apart from a lot of other paranormal romance novels prowling the YA market. While Hemlock by Kathleen Peacock goes with a love triangle and a kind of urban setting, the emotional heroine and all the CREEPTASTIC crime-solving works in the story’s favor. It’s like Nancy Drew with less besties, two hot guys, a lot of emotions and bad self-esteem, meets your regular Werewolf Situation. Which IS as cool as it sounds! All the DRAMA, figuring who done the THING, was surprisingly pretty fun, yet balanced out by all the dark stuff going on what with the gruesome murders and Mac and her friends' inner turmoil. It would TOTALLY be a CW hit!

hooking first line: "Blood ran down my hands in thin rivers."

Harper Teen • Edelweiss • Paranormal Mystery • 5/8/12 • $13.93

by Kathleen Peacock
Mackenzie and Amy were best friends. Until Amy was brutally murdered.

Since then, Mac’s life has been turned upside down. She is being haunted by Amy in her dreams, and an extremist group called the Trackers has come to Mac’s hometown of Hemlock to hunt down Amy’s killer: A white werewolf.

Lupine syndrome—also known as the werewolf virus—is on the rise across the country. Many of the infected try to hide their symptoms, but bloodlust is not easy to control.

Wanting desperately to put an end to her nightmares, Mac decides to investigate Amy’s murder herself. She discovers secrets lurking in the shadows of Hemlock, secrets about Amy’s boyfriend, Jason, her good pal Kyle, and especially her late best friend. Mac is thrown into a maelstrom of violence and betrayal that puts her life at risk.

Kathleen Peacock’s thrilling novel is the first in the Hemlock trilogy, a spellbinding urban fantasy series filled with provocative questions about prejudice, trust, lies, and love.
Okay, who got ripped to shreds just now?

So, the UNTHINKABLE happens. This Amy chick gets herself brutally killed in a deserted alley. And, boy, the fear is adrenaline overdose. Peacock sure knows how to orchestrate a solid, fast-gripping chase. Anyway, Amy here is found in pieces—if I remember right—and everybody’s all very devastated. Amy, as we are soon to discover, is one of the town golden girls, granddaughter of this Senator with LOADS of influence and power. She was a granddaughter, a best friend, and a girlfriend before she was found OVERKILL-dead, and the people who cared about her are unsurprisingly anguished but for unexpected reasons. Everyone—Mac, Kyle, Jason, among others whose identities remain delicious secrets—has dirty little secrets about their involvement in Amy’s shocking death. It’s all very much like an episode of Pretty Little Liars. Only WAY BETTER.

Mackenzie, or more fondly known as Mac, is/was Amy’s bestie and is in a really shizzy place mentally and emotionally even after months have passed since that dreadful, dreadful day. Now, Mackenzie is living her life one painful, dull moment at a time while doing her best to look after the only two other people who mattered to either Mac or Amy—Kyle and Jason. Jason has become a walking downward spiral, aka a pathetic drunkard; Kyle has gotten himself into some deep shizz with a psycho ex and has been pulling away more and more. Mac is all WHAT THE EFF IS GOING ON HERE? She’s tearing herself in two trying to save both of them, when neither of them really deserve all that attention and concern and looking after. Mac has the patience of a saint, if you ask me, to hang onto these two guys who bring nothing but strain to her day-to-day.

It’s never really explained why Amy mattered so much to Kyle and Jason, but you get Mac’s despair. Friendless nearly all her life, to have someone so close be torn away… Mac loved Amy because she made a difference in Mac’s life, and I FELT for Mac. It isn’t until the pieces start falling into our laps, however, that we all realize Amy may have been hiding a few of her colors.

I’m so proud of me and my guessing skillz

And THAT, quite honestly, is the best part of Hemlock by Kathleen Peacock. Figuring that most of the townspeople of Hemlock are not AT ALL who they say they are, who they pretend to be. In fact, many of them are curtaining buckets of secrets and it’s up to Mac to sort through and connect them to the attacks and Amy’s death.

I LIKED being suspicious of everyone I met, wondering about their well-kept secrets and who would have the most damning motive. Although I puzzled out who the villain was fairly quickly—because I’m a G like that—everyone else’s true identity is certainly not as easy to rationalize.

Mac’s daddy issues and boys in need of slapattacks

Mac, as I said, is really bent out of shape over Amy’s murder, and can’t resist blaming herself for everything that has gone wrong since then. She blames herself for not being Kyle and Jason’s white knight, saving Jason from himself and Kyle from whatever secrets are causing those shadows under his cute eyeballs. Rather than feeling annoyed, I actually found that this quality makes her endearing rather than irritating. She’s had a rough childhood with really terrible parents, and all she knows is what awfulness her father managed to leave imprinted in her subconscious. She views herself as dispensable, disposable, and it makes her sad, vulnerable, and lonely in ways that make her half-deserving of a hug. Daddy issues or not, however, I do so enjoy the way this girl goes about saving the day—a little impulsive, logical, and a lot brave (or maybe stupid?).

While on some level, I dug Jason and Kyle, the other half of Mac’s dwindling foursome, I had my issues with them. Although it’s voluntary, Mac puts herself through a lot of crap on her remaining bffs’ behalves and neither fully appreciates and values all she does. Their actions, at least, say that. She reads more like a mama bear half the time than a best friend or a love interest for all the babysitting and confronting and intervening she starts up. I didn’t fully grasp the attraction to either of them for that reason. They may both be smokin’, but they’ve got too many issues to count and Mac comes off more like a den mother than anything else. Secrets, lies, betrayals, they’re both culprits, and some of their actions are immature to say the least, in a grating way as opposed to a They’re Evolving and Learning Throughout the Book way, which is actually attractive.

Ready to end this

Hemlock by Kathleen Peacock is definitely delightfully entertaining and all, but there are certain points that tend to drag, and I would’ve liked to have seen the story condensed a bit more. There’s so much drama and general mayhem, yes, and it’s effective, but I could’ve done without some of it.

I don’t know how Peacock is going to stretch out this series, and I’d hate to see it be dragged on for the sake of the all-important love triangle *eye-roll*, which I have no definitive stance on. Let’s pray that Peacock has more pressing matters mapped out for Mac and the gang, and that the next mystery is as exciting as Hemlock by Kathleen Peacock.

Rating: Sud-Kissed
"You're scared of me. I can tell." He licked his lips. "I can smell it."
Okay, that was a little creepy. "What's your next trick gonna be: predicting my period?" (26%)

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Michelle Chew said...

Love your review! You did a good job there! I can't wait to read Hemlock! And I love Nancy Drew when I was a kid. <3 I'm definitely going to like the book. I think. Anyway, I really hope the story will not drag in the series! *prays hard*

Candace's Book Blog said...

Totally loved trying to figure everything out in this one!  Glad you really liked it too!  And I was kind of okay with the drama and things being stretched out, but it was a bit of a hefty read.  And I'm a bit concerned about the love triangle as it's not my favorite thing ever.  But still a great read!  

Bookworm1858 said...

Interesting comments-I haven't had a chance to read this yet but the dynamic of Mac as den mother to the two boys sounds very different. It will be cool to see how Peacock handles that for future books since a love triangle would seem very weird coming out of that.

Lauren said...

Fabulous review! I love how you said it could be a CW hit. (The majority of my favorite shows are on that network, ha ha) I purchased Hemlock a couple weeks ago and for some reason it's still chilling on my shelf. I really need to dive in!

Asher Knight said...

THANK YOU, MICHELLE <33 Hemlock is a great murder mystery, for sure. And I don't see you DISliking it, that's for sure. I just, like you said, don't want the story to drag either For no reason. Let us hope.

Asher Knight said...

RIIGHT. It was sort of predictable but sort of wasn't. I looooved uncovering the truth about some of the townspeople. Loved that some were so shocking. The love triangle certainly concerns me a whole heck of a lot, and it FELT hefty. Which isn't a great sign. But it was still a solid read.

Asher Knight said...

YES. I wish she would've just stuck to being friends to both of them, then finding a guy on her own. Both of seem to want and need different things from her, and not all of those needs appear romantic. Which can be both good and bad. But I don't want the story to drag and drag for the sake of the love triangle, you know?

Asher Knight said...

THANK YOU. It certainly does have that CW feel. Which is why i cracked up a few times when it was mentioned in the book. I like that Peacock can make fun of her characters and the situations they get themselves into. It's a solid read, and the murder mystery so fun to unravel. HOPE YOU ENJOY IT.