Review: The Anxiety of Kalix the Werewolf, Martin Millar

Note: I received a copy of this book from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.

Scottish werewolf Kalix MacRinnalch is trying to make her life better. She’s taking remedial classes at a nearby college and trying to cut back on the violence she does to others and herself. But her plans for self-improvement are interrupted when the Guild of Werewolf Hunters — abetted in their work by Fire Queen Malveria’s deadly enemy — begins to hunt down and murder the members of the werewolf clans. And the werewolves are all:

Well, to start with, I am in favor of this ENORMOUS REVENGE PLOTLINE. The first werewolf killed by the Guild — and it’s sort of Kalix’s fault, although not completely — is Thrix’s teacher and mentor, the werewolf enchantress Minerva. Her death plunges Thrix into a spiral of depression and rage, and she becomes the driving force behind the werewolf clans’ efforts to eradicate the Guild once and for all. In past books, Thrix has been very much a voice of reason, but here she becomes someone who must be reasoned with. It’s a fun switch, and it’ll be interesting to see the fallout from it in the next book.

In other snooty werewolves who are getting into the game, The Anxiety of Kalix the Werewolf featured a satisfying number of people  being impressed with Dominil, Kalix’s frosty, competent cousin who is trying to conceal her own laudanum addiction from the clans. I can never get enough of Dominil getting shit done and not even caring what everyone thinks of her. Although her plans do not fall out exactly as she imagines in this book, she nevertheless gets to do a number of clever and resourceful things in furtherance of werewolf goals. And it’s just nice when someone says “Dominil, can you do X Impossible Thing?” and then goes off in perfect confidence that Dominil will handle it.

A new supernatural wrinkle is added to the supernatural world in the form of Scottish fairies! Hurrah, a new supernatural wrinkle! The werewolves require assistance from the fairies who live in the forests of Scotland, and the fairies are none too pleased that they’ve been neglected so long and only flattered and catered to now that the werewolves want something. There’s a helpful fairy queen as well as an extremely unhelpful fairy called Teinn who poisons the minds of the werewolf clans against their Thane. It’ll be fun to see what Teinn gets to do from here on out, as at the end of the book she heads for London to make mischief there.

On the down side, I discovered that I’ve stopped caring about Daniel and Moonglow. Or to be more accurate, I’ve stopped caring about whether they date or not, and the question of whether they were going to date or not was pretty much the only thing either of them had going on in this book. They’re more sort of satellites orbiting Kalix and Vex. It’s okay for now, I guess, but in the next book I’d like to see them working to achieve goals of their own (school goals? work goals? anything is fine, really). My utterly favorite thing about Martin Millar (this may be in conflict with some other thing I’ve said in the past is my favorite thing about Martin Millar, but who are you, the Continuity Police? Favorite things change! Shut up!) is the way he places the magical side-by-side with the utterly banal.

American cover

British cover

British cover

American cover

Cover report: Are cover reports making me a crankier person? Surely there are covers in this world that I admire? Anyway, neither of these covers pleases me. I dislike the American one less actually, but I’m angry with it for depicting Kalix with fair hair. She has dark hair. The book says it like twelve hundred times. British cover wins on a technicality.

Edit to add: Mumsy has pointed out that the British cover uses the exact same cover photo as If I Stay. So never mind. Nobody wins. Everyone loses.

18 thoughts on “Review: The Anxiety of Kalix the Werewolf, Martin Millar

    • It’s the third in the series. I don’t know whether the author plans to keep writing them — they don’t cry out for sequels, exactly, but there’s always space for sequels. The books are Lonely Werewolf Girl, then Curse of the Wolf Girl, then The Anxiety of Kalix the Werewolf.

  1. The Continuity Police, they come to me in my bed
    The Continuity Police, they live inside of my head.
    If your current favorite thing is the supernatural and magical side-by-side with the utterly banal, you are so ready for the first season of Supernatural.

      • We urged Ron to sample a few from season one and then a few more from season 2 because there’s a great five-season story arc, and most people think the 4th and 5th seasons are the best. Of course, I’m hooked now, so I’m continuing to watch season 9.

        • Noted. I’m watching season 1 now and enjoying it, although I admit it’s not receiving my fullest attention — I put it on when I’m cleaning.

          Does it go sharply downhill after the five-season story arc wraps up? And does Dean from Gilmore Girls (confusingly not called Dean in Supernatural) develop the ability to act angry in ways other than clenching his jaw and wrinkling up his nose?

          • I wouldn’t say sharply downhill. There are people who “ship” Dean and an angel who appears in a later season who aren’t happy with it after season 5-6, but I ignore them.
            Sam’s acting gets better and better. He is very young in the first season. In later seasons he acquires a reputation for being good at showing you who is inhabiting his “meat suit.”

  2. Yeah . . . both those covers are pretty bad. The blonde hair exchange makes me think of the covers of my favorite werewolf-related series, The Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs. Mercy has one tattoo below her belly button, and this is stated in the first book, but almost all of the covers show her sporting tattoos also on her arms and also her lower back or basically wherever the cover artist’s artistic license is leading. Sigh.

    • Sigh indeed. Wouldn’t you think somebody on that cover meeting would say, Hey, this is wrong? I know the cover designers haven’t got time to read every book, but you’d think the editor would say something in those meetings.

  3. I’ve not heard of this series and am really intrigued! I like Scotland and werewolves and banality! I agree – both covers suck. I also heartily support the above commenter’s suggestion of watching Supernatural. It’s utterly ridiculous and completely addictive.

    • I’ve taken the advice of the hive mind: I started watching Supernatural last night. It’s very charming and silly so far — a good show to watch while I’m planning what pictures to hang on my many huge blank walls.

    • I’ve done my part! Supernatural is now the official show I watch while I’m doing cross-stitching or interior decorating brainstorms (replacing Lost, which I finished on Wednesday, finally). Now you should definitely read Lonely Werewolf Girl.

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