We all know about werewolves from the movies, but in this lively, poignant powerhouse of a novel, Stephen Graham Jones gives us a glimpse of what they might be like if they existed in the real world. It’s hard for me to find the right words to properly describe how much I love MONGRELS. So much more than a werewolf novel, it’s a peek into a subculture that is at once both recognizably human and exotically supernatural. Our young narrator wants very much to be a werewolf like his aunt, uncle, and grandfather, but so much of the novel is about all the dumb, mundane things that can go wrong for werewolves that you can’t help but feel sympathy for them. (Some of the best parts of the novel have to do with the new rules Jones invents for werewolves, which lends the well-worn trope an air of freshness and, at times, added piquancy.)
The prose is exquisite. Each chapter reads almost like a perfect short story. The characters are so well drawn and relatable that you feel like you know them as soon as you’re introduced; like you’re part of the narrator’s family, moving with them from state to state, never staying long enough to put down roots because that’s the way it is for werewolves. Well worthy of all its award nominations, MONGRELS is truly one of the best novels I’ve read. It’s a genuine masterpiece.