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A Review of Hemlock Grove: Or The Wise Wolf by Brian McGreevy - A Novel that Explores the Darkness in Us All

Hemlock Grove: Or The Wise Wolf - A Gothic Novel with a Twist

If you are looking for a novel that will keep you on the edge of your seat, make you question your own sanity, and challenge your perception of reality, then Hemlock Grove: Or The Wise Wolf by Brian McGreevy is the book for you. This novel is an exhilarating reinvention of the gothic genre, inspired by the iconic characters of our greatest myths and nightmares. It tells the story of a small town in Pennsylvania, where a series of gruesome murders leads to a shocking discovery of secrets, lies, and supernatural creatures.

Hemlock Grove: Or The Wise Wolf Brian McGreevy lilimath magix minin


What is Hemlock Grove?

Hemlock Grove is a fictional town in Pennsylvania, where the abandoned Godfrey Steel mill casts a dark shadow over the lives of its residents. The town is divided by class, race, and religion, and plagued by rumors of strange experiments taking place at the White Tower, a biotech facility owned by the wealthy Godfrey family. The town is also home to Peter Rumancek, a Gypsy trailer-trash kid who claims to be a werewolf, and Roman Godfrey, the son of the late JR Godfrey, who rules the adolescent social scene with his cold-blooded arrogance.

Who are the main characters?

The novel focuses on the unlikely friendship between Peter and Roman, who team up to solve the mystery of the murders that terrorize the town. Along the way, they encounter a variety of characters, some of whom are more than they seem. Some of the key characters are:

  • Shelley Godfrey, Roman's sister, who suffers from monstrous medical conditions but has a sweet intelligence and a mysterious connection to her uncle Norman.

  • Olivia Godfrey, Roman's mother, who is an otherworldly control freak with a penchant for blood and a hidden past.

  • Letha Godfrey, Roman's cousin, who is pregnant with what she believes to be an angel's child.

  • Dr. Pryce, the head of the White Tower, who conducts unethical experiments on human and animal subjects.

  • Christina Wendall, a high school classmate of Peter and Roman, who is obsessed with werewolves and becomes increasingly unstable.

  • Destiny Rumancek, Peter's cousin, who is a psychic and a witch.

What are the main themes?

The novel explores several themes that are common to the gothic genre, such as horror, mystery, madness, and death. However, it also adds some twists that make it unique and relevant to modern readers. Some of the main themes are:

  • The clash between science and superstition, as represented by the White Tower and the werewolf legend.

  • The corruption of power and wealth, as shown by the Godfrey family and their influence over the town.

  • The nature of identity and belonging, as illustrated by Peter's struggle to accept his heritage and Roman's quest to find his father.

  • The role of fate and free will, as demonstrated by Letha's pregnancy and Christina's transformation.

  • The meaning of family and friendship, as exemplified by Peter and Roman's bond and Shelley's loyalty.

Plot Summary

The Mystery of the Murders

The novel begins with the discovery of the body of Brooke Bluebell, a high school cheerleader, who has been brutally killed and partially eaten in the woods. The police suspect an animal attack, but some people believe it is the work of a werewolf. Peter, who has recently moved to Hemlock Grove with his mother Lynda, becomes a prime suspect, as he has told some of his classmates that he is a werewolf. He also has a habit of wandering in the woods at night, following his lunar cycle. Roman, who is bored and curious, decides to befriend Peter and help him clear his name. Together, they start investigating the murder, using Peter's animal instincts and Roman's hypnotic abilities.

The Friendship of Peter and Roman

As Peter and Roman get closer, they discover that they have more in common than they thought. They both have dysfunctional families, troubled pasts, and supernatural secrets. Peter reveals that he is indeed a werewolf, but not by choice. He inherited the curse from his father, who was killed by hunters when Peter was a child. He also tells Roman that he can only change on the full moon, and that he has to remove his skin and bury it before transforming. Roman confesses that he has a strange power that allows him to control people's minds and make them do what he wants. He also admits that he has a dark side that he tries to suppress, but sometimes fails. He also tells Peter that he doesn't know who his real father is, and that his mother Olivia is hiding something from him.

The Secrets of the Godfrey Family

Meanwhile, the Godfrey family is dealing with their own problems. Olivia, who is a mysterious and beautiful woman with a foreign accent, is obsessed with keeping her family under her control. She manipulates her son Roman, her brother-in-law Norman, and her lover Chasseur, a federal agent who is secretly investigating the White Tower. She also neglects her daughter Shelley, who is a gentle giant with glowing eyes and a disfigured body. Shelley communicates through emails and texts, and has a close relationship with her uncle Norman, who is a psychiatrist and the only one who understands her. Shelley also has a special bond with Dr. Pryce, who saved her life when she was a baby and gave her some enhancements. Letha, who is Norman's daughter and Roman's cousin, is pregnant with what she claims to be an angel's child. She says that she was visited by an angel in her dreams, who impregnated her without touching her. She names the child Nadia, which means hope.

The Revelation of the Werewolf

As the novel progresses, more bodies are found in the woods, each more mutilated than the last. Peter and Roman realize that there is another werewolf in town, one that is more savage and uncontrollable than Peter. They also suspect that the werewolf is someone they know, someone who is close to them. They narrow down their list of suspects to Christina Wendall, a shy and nerdy girl who is fascinated by werewolves and has been acting strangely lately; Tyler Lane, a jock who dated Brooke and has been harassing Peter; and JR Godfrey, Roman's father who supposedly committed suicide but whose body was never found. They decide to set a trap for the werewolf on the night of the full moon, using Letha as bait.

The trap goes wrong when Christina shows up at the rendezvous point instead of Letha. She reveals that she is the werewolf who has been killing people, and that she became one after being bitten by a dog in the woods. She says that she was jealous of Brooke and Letha for being popular and beautiful, and that she wanted to be like them. She also says that she hates Peter for being a real werewolf and Roman for being his friend. She attacks them, but Peter manages to transform into his wolf form and fight her off. He kills her by ripping out her throat, but not before she bites him in the chest.

Peter survives the bite, but he realizes that he has broken the werewolf code by killing another of his kind. He decides to leave Hemlock Grove with his mother Lynda, who has been arrested for stealing money from Olivia. He says goodbye to Roman and Letha, who have fallen in love during their adventure. He also says goodbye to Shelley, who has run away from home after being blamed for Christina's death by Olivia.


How Hemlock Grove explores myths and nightmares

One of the most striking features of Hemlock Grove is how it incorporates elements from various myths and nightmares into its plot and characters. The novel draws inspiration from classic horror stories, such as Frankenstein, Dracula, and The Wolf Man, as well as from modern urban legends, such as the Slender Man and the Jersey Devil. The novel also references Greek mythology, such as the Oedipus complex, the Pygmalion effect, and the myth of Leda and the Swan. The novel uses these myths and nightmares to create a sense of dread, mystery, and wonder, as well as to comment on the human condition and its flaws.

For example, Shelley Godfrey is a clear homage to Frankenstein's monster, as she is a reanimated corpse with a stitched-up body and a gentle soul. She represents the theme of scientific hubris and its consequences, as well as the theme of social alienation and rejection. She also symbolizes the hope for redemption and acceptance, as she is loved by her uncle Norman and her friend Peter. Roman Godfrey is a modern version of Dracula, as he is a charismatic aristocrat with a thirst for blood and a hypnotic power. He represents the theme of corruption and decadence, as well as the theme of sexual allure and danger. He also symbolizes the struggle between good and evil, as he tries to resist his dark impulses and protect his loved ones. Peter Rumancek is a contemporary rendition of The Wolf Man, as he is a werewolf who transforms on the full moon and kills innocent people. He represents the theme of nature versus nurture, as well as the theme of identity and belonging. He also symbolizes the quest for freedom and self-discovery, as he embraces his heritage and finds his true friends.

How Hemlock Grove reflects the darkness in us all

Another major theme of Hemlock Grove is how it reflects the darkness in us all, both literally and figuratively. The novel shows how everyone in Hemlock Grove has a dark side, a secret, or a flaw that makes them human and vulnerable. The novel also shows how the town itself is a dark place, where violence, corruption, and deception are rampant. The novel suggests that there is no clear distinction between good and evil, human and monster, normal and abnormal. Instead, there are shades of gray, complexities, and ambiguities that challenge our moral judgments and our sense of reality.

For example, Olivia Godfrey is arguably the most evil character in the novel, as she is a ruthless manipulator who kills people for her own benefit. However, she is also a victim of her own past, as she was abused by her father and betrayed by her lover. She is also a loving mother to Roman and Shelley, who are the only ones who can touch her heart. Christina Wendall is seemingly a harmless character in the novel, as she is a shy and nerdy girl who loves werewolves. However, she is also a dangerous killer who murders people out of jealousy and resentment. She is also a tragic figure who suffers from mental illness and self-loathing. Dr. Pryce is apparently a benevolent character in the novel, as he is a brilliant scientist who saves Shelley's life and gives her enhancements. However, he is also a madman who experiments on human and animal subjects without regard for ethics or consequences. He is also a loyal friend who cares for Shelley and helps her escape.


Why Hemlock Grove is a classic in its own right

In conclusion, Hemlock Grove: Or The Wise Wolf by Brian McGreevy is a novel that deserves to be recognized as a classic in its own right. It is a novel that reinvents the gothic genre by bringing a fresh energy to our darkest myths and nightmares. It is a novel that explores themes that are relevant to our modern society, such as science versus superstition, power versus wealth, identity versus belonging, fate versus free will, family versus friendship. It is a novel that reflects the darkness in us all, but also offers glimpses of light and hope.

If you are looking for a novel that will challenge your mind, stir your emotions, and haunt your dreams, then Hemlock Grove: Or The Wise Wolf by Brian McGreevy is the book for you. It is a novel that will enthrall you for years to come.


Q: Is Hemlock Grove based on a true story?

  • A: No, Hemlock Grove is a fictional story that is inspired by various myths and nightmares, but not by any real events or people.

Q: Is Hemlock Grove a series?

  • A: Yes, Hemlock Grove is the first book in a trilogy, followed by Hemlock Grove: Reflections on the Motive Power of Fire and Hemlock Grove: The Final Chapter.

Q: Is Hemlock Grove a TV show?

  • A: Yes, Hemlock Grove is also a TV show that was adapted from the novel by Netflix. It ran for three seasons from 2013 to 2015, starring Famke Janssen, Bill Skarsgård, Landon Liboiron, and Dougray Scott.

Q: What is the meaning of the title Hemlock Grove?

  • A: The title Hemlock Grove has multiple meanings. It refers to the name of the town where the story takes place, which is derived from the hemlock tree, a poisonous plant that can cause death. It also refers to the grove where Peter transforms into a werewolf and where Christina is killed. It also refers to the metaphorical grove of darkness and secrets that surrounds the characters and the town.

Q: What is the meaning of the subtitle Or The Wise Wolf?

  • A: The subtitle Or The Wise Wolf has several meanings. It refers to Peter Rumancek, who is a werewolf and who is wise in his own way. It also refers to Roman Godfrey, who is not a werewolf but who has a wolf-like personality and who learns some wisdom throughout the story. It also refers to the wise wolf as a symbol of strength, courage, and loyalty, which are qualities that Peter and Roman display in their friendship.



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