Book: Nancy Holder’s ‘Unleashed’ – Shakespearean-named werewolves are not sexy

‘Unleashed’ is the first book in the Wold Spring Chronicles series – which currently stands at two books (the third, ‘Savage’ is due to be released in December 2013).

The cover reminded me of Sir John Everett Millaispainting of Ophelia – admittedly before Ophelia got into the water, so is mostly to blame for my picking up this book. The comparisons to ‘Fallen’ set of warning bells, but it was a really cheap book…


The main protagonist is a teen called Katelyn McBride – her father is long dead, so when her mother dies she is shipped out of California to stay with her grandfather to a small town in Arkansas called Wolf Springs.

The book makes a big deal about how “like any small town, Wolf Springs has secrets” – having lived in a small town I have to say that there really aren’t that many secrets to a local and half the time you have to block your ears to avoid hearing the latest undesirable details! But as a wet city girl with no personality I imagine that Kayelyn (who is quickly rechristened Kat by a random boy) would struggle to get conversation out of a babbling brook.

We are introduced to Kat on the understanding that gymnastics is her life and all that she thinks about. It is laboured that her life is going to be so hard if she can’t get her fix in Wolf Springs and then after a couple of chapters gymnastics doesn’t get mentioned anymore. There is no realisation by Kat that something else is going on, she just shuts up about it and moves onto taking too many pages deciding what to do her history project on – oh the excitement.

john everett millais ophelia

(Sir John Everett MillaisOphelia)

There are some early hints of monsters in the woods and that not all of them are strictly-speaking animals. Also my copy of book mentions werewolves on the back, so I presume that this wasn’t meant to be a secret!

The main reason I bought it was I was fed up with cheap charity shop young adult books about vampires and thought it might be funny to see someone try to make werewolves sexy – because there is absolutely nothing sexy about growing extra hair once a month.

I am unsure if Nancy Holder has ever written anything before and I found her writing painful to read. It was silly things like overly describing everything to the point where it was boring and encouraged skim-reading.

mean girls

(Still from ‘Mean Girls’)

Her characters were introduced in one way but then didn’t act or look that way later – the main possible-romantic-male-lead is called Trick and he seemed to be part Asian and part African-American with a Russian name but he wasn’t Russian!

I also suspect that he is a vampire, a drug dealer, a werewolf hunter, or all three. My reasoning is simple – his full name has Vlad in it, he doesn’t seem to have parents, he seems to have a fair bit of money with no obvious source, lots of people want his attention – apart from people who are mostly-likely werewolves who all hate him.

Kat’s new best friend – as her old friend from California ditches her two days after she leaves, is a shallow fake cow called Cordelia who is entirely untrustworthy and seems the kind of girl who would deliberately bonk a guy that she knew her BFF liked just because she could.

The Shakespeare aspect of these wolves is in the names, Holder must have been rather taken with ‘King Lear’ as her pack alpha is called Lee Fenner and he has three daughters: Arial, Regan and Cordelia.

King Lear had three daughters: Gonerial, Regan and Cordelia.

In  both books Cordelia is banished by her father after her sister’s betray her – although the depth of Holder’s Cordelia’s betrayal would require me to read the sequels.

Additionally King Lear has a loyal Fool, Holder has Trick who is seemingly loyal to Kat. This suggests to me the way that the plot of the other two books might go.

ginger snaps monster

(Still from ‘Ginger Snaps’

Kat herself reminds me of a girl I used to know, let’s call her Des, she used to get very involved in worrying about something and then make really stupid decisions. For example Kat is told to say in the stationary truck whilst Trick moves a dead deer out of the road in the middle of the forest, Kat exits the truck to scream Trick’s name despite knowing there are monsters in the woods and that EVERYONE is telling her to not go out when it is dark.

Unfortunately Kat does not get eaten by a monster at this point in the book.

I recently got annoyed with ‘The Walking Dead’ as the main protagonist was acting contrary to every horror movie ever – but he was armed and a policeman. Kat is actually worse because she is young, female, unarmed and has been repeatedly warned but STILL puts herself in obviously unwise situations.

Banksy's monet

(Banksy’s take on Monet’s Water Lily Pond)

Talking of which, you can’t have a love triangle that the audience will root for when one of the men is already with someone else, it is just tacky and shouldn’t be encouraged or condoned.

The book technically ends on a cliffhanger of sorts, an ending designed to make people want to read the subsequent books, unfortunately as Kat appears to be a silly little trollop I so I couldn’t give two hoots if in the second book she is turned into a werewolf and ruts with passers by whilst exchanging stilted dialogue. Based on the precedent set by the first book I do think that she might.

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2 thoughts on “Book: Nancy Holder’s ‘Unleashed’ – Shakespearean-named werewolves are not sexy

  1. This kinda realises my fears about this book.. I was intrigued by it since I love what Nancy Holder did with Buffy.. but I was worried that since the genre is so heavily saturated right now, it would struggle to be ‘new’, you know?

    Still, I might read it… The weak Shakespearean references worry me though..

    Cool post! 🙂

    • I didn’t know that Nancy Holder had written any Buffy books – not that I’ve read any of the Buffy books!

      Although I am now interested to see her writing in another setting… and with characters that someone else started developing and shaping.

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