The werewolves who weren't by T.C. Shelley
Bloomsbury Children's Books, 2020. ISBN: 9781526600806.
(Age: 10-12). Recommended for mature readers who have read the first book. Follow up to 2019's The monster who wasn't, which is a must-read before picking up this one. This story continues from the events in the first book and there are multiple concepts and relationships that are difficult to make sense of without the earlier background.
Sam looks like a normal boy but has a unique secret. He is half monster and half fairy, hatched only 4 months ago, with great strength and heightened senses. He is adopted by a human family and settles into a human life, including starting at school.
At school he meets three other students who smell nice to him but initially act very oddly. It turns out they have a secret too, one that makes them just as strange as Sam is, and so the foursome quickly form a strong bond.
Then a figure from Sam's past returns and seems to be using fairy dust to subdue and gather up monsters. Sam's friends vanish and new threats emerge as Sam races to figure out what's happening and why. He must weigh up where his loyalties lie and what he is willing to lose, and this sets the scene for a mighty struggle for survival.
This story is quite complex overall, rather wordy in parts (I found myself skipping through some of the longer descriptive passages between action scenes) and full of wonderful detail about various types of fanciful monsters. A younger reader may find this book difficult and/or frightening.
For the mature reader though it has lovely themes of belonging, identity, loyalty and friendship. West Australian author Shelley includes some humour too showing Sam still getting used to human life and speech (at one point he says "mistaken toe" where he means 'wrong foot'). The ending is hopeful and very intriguing, obviously paving the way for book 3 which is due in 2021.
Themes: Monsters - fiction, Gargoyles, Families, Fairies, Relationships, Dogs, Werewolves, Adventure.