This past weekend I was lucky enough to get to sit down with Camilla Ochlan and Bonita Gutierrez, co-authors of The Werewolf Whisper, an independent urban fantasy series about a pair of women who team up in the aftermath of a “werewolf apocalypse”.
When the Kyon Virus infects huge portions of the population, it has different effects on different people. Some lose their minds, turning into the powerful and dangerous werewolf archetype as we know it. But others can be taught to be loyal and docile, while others still can change at will from human to beast.
In the midst of this, LA cop Lucy Lowell discovers a strange ability: when she talks to Werebeasts, they listen. In fact, they can’t help but obey. With the help of her former CI, Xochitl Magaña, Lucy sets out to help the people of California tame their loved ones.
Not offensive to women = 1/1 pt
All of the female characters in the book had strong personalities. I didn’t agree with everything they said or did (even the main characters). As I’ve said before, I think an “unlikable” character is actually just a character making different choices than I would. It challenges my perspective, and I like that.
Features a woman as the main protagonist and/or supporting character = 2/2 pts Passes the Bechdel-Wallace test = 3/3 pts
The crux of this story is Lucy and Xochitl’s relationship. Though teased for being almost romantically close, the women actually have a strong friendship forged in the strange, deadly, and tragic post-apocalyptic world. The book passes the Bechdel-Wallace test a million times as Xochitl and Lucy discuss their business, Were-catching strategy, their pasts, their current struggles, and their futures.
Artistic and/or Entertaining = 4/4 pts
Originally conceived as a web series, the book maintains a movie-like feel. The action is nonstop (seriously, it opens AND ends with a chase scene). We meet Xochitl and Lucy in a post-Werebeast world, but the novel flashes back regularly into the past, showing us how the women meet, separate, and find each other again.
One thing I really appreciated was the skillful management of the two viewpoints. Both Lucy and Xochitl feel like central characters with strong arcs. Also, writers are commonly warned against confusing readers by changing perspectives too often, or “head-hopping”. Put in two main characters and two backstories and it becomes difficult not to fall into this trap. Bonita and Camilla did a great job keeping things clear for the reader.
This is definitely the first book in an expanding world, but it has a complete arc that was satisfying to read.
Above and Beyond General Media = 5/5 pts
I encourage you to watch the video interview above to hear more about this! Camilla, Bonita, and I spent a long time talking about the many great aspects of this story. In particular, Bonita talks about honoring her Mexican heritage through Xochitl’s character, including the use of the Spanish language throughout the novel.
We also talk about the importance of partnership. A good partner is hard to find! Lucy and Xochitl’s relationship is mirrored in Camilla and Bonita, and it’s great to see.
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