I didn’t know what expect when I picked up Immortal Lycanthropes, by Hal Johnson.
This is the story of Myron Horowitz. Myron is a pretty typical 13-year-old. He’s starting high school. He likes adventure stories. Of course there is the fact that he was horribly disfigured in an accident several years earlier, and still has the body of an 8-year-old. Both these facts have made being a teenager difficult for him. Oh, and he may or may not be the Chosen One for a race of shape-shifting mammals who can take human form. So maybe he’s not that typical. As Myron’s adventure begins, we start to find out more about him. The more we find out, the more questions we have. The thing is, Myron has those same questions. To find out the answers, Myron finds himself caught up in a fantastic world that may just kill him. Unless he turns out to be the Chosen One, then maybe he’ll survive.
Hal Johnson’s debut novel is a fresh and original take on the supernatural genre sweeping Young Adult fiction. Inventive, it is reminiscent of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods. It is a journey with a darker world operating beneath the notice of everyday life, where people are distracted by super value meals and internet porn.
Myron’s journey brings many strange people into his life. The first to actually stop and introduce himself to Myron is Arthur Hong. It’s Arthur who has pieced together Myron’s story and narrates it to the reader. Turns out Arthur is an author. He has written many of the adventure stories that Myron loves. (He also ghost writes the Magic Pony Club novels). Oh, and he’s an immortal lycanthrope too. Turns out he’s a bearcat who has seen the human story from the very beginning. Perhaps it’s that perspective that drives him to tell stories, including the story of Myron.
Sometimes Immortal Lycanthropes is hampered by trying to be too quirky. It’s a world (over) populated by freaks and geeks. There are faux European royals who have discovered the fountain of youth, secret societies, and a boy addicted to shape. Not all these things move the story forward. They add to the color, but not the shape of the world. When Myron reaches the end of his journey, the reader is left with some unanswered questions. It’s not completely clear if Myron even has all the answers.
The book is graced with wild life illustrations by Teagan White. She also provided the artwork for the wraparound cover.
I believe that readers, both young and old will find Immortal Lycanthropes an enjoyable read. Funny and exciting, with the trip being just as important as the destination.
Johnson, is a New York based writer, whose bio identifies him as an “average American citizen and family man, the kind that are the backbone of the nation… Until, that is, he gets behind the wheel of an automobile. At that point he changes. He changes from a careful, considerate citizen—to a menace.” You realize that is a description of the character with the same name from the 1948 driver’s education film, Driven to Kill. That should tell you something about the sense of humor of the author.
The book is available through Midtown Comics, Amazon. com and at book stores.