Thursday, July 31, 2014
Hemlock Grove, or The Wise Wolf
Hemlock Grove, by Brian McGreevy
"The body of a young girl is found mangled and murdered in the woods of Hemlock Grove, Pennsylvania, in the shadow of the abandoned Godfrey Steel mill. A manhunt ensues—though the authorities aren’t sure if it’s a man they should be looking for.
Some suspect an escapee from the White Tower, a foreboding biotech facility owned by the Godfrey family—their personal fortune and the local economy having moved on from Pittsburgh steel—where, if rumors are true, biological experiments of the most unethical kind take place. Others turn to Peter Rumancek, a Gypsy trailer-trash kid who has told impressionable high school classmates that he’s a werewolf. Or perhaps it’s Roman, the son of the late JR Godfrey, who rules the adolescent social scene with the casual arrogance of a cold-blooded aristocrat, his superior status unquestioned despite his decidedly freakish sister, Shelley, whose monstrous medical conditions belie a sweet intelligence, and his otherworldly control freak of a mother, Olivia.
At once a riveting mystery and a fascinating revelation of the grotesque and the darkness in us all, Hemlock Grove has the architecture and energy to become a classic in its own right—and Brian McGreevy the talent and ambition to enthrall us for years to come."
You may know the Netflix original series, Hemlock Grove, but did you know that it was a book first? It came out in 2012, and was very quickly turned into a television adaptation that debuted in 2013.
So, I want to talk not only about the book, but how it differs from the show.
First of all, I really liked this. I am certain that I would have enjoyed this novel, even if I had never heard of it before. The writing style is reminiscent of a dark fairy tale, and I found that I enjoyed reading this more than I enjoyed watching the series. There's just something about the ambiance that is created through an author's choice of language that doesn't quite translate into visual imagery well. Some television shows do it exceptionally, many are just mediocre. I would say that in this case, the book creates more of a feeling of mystery and dread than in the show.
Content wise- many of the scenes are exactly the same. It is clear that the screenplay took some of the sections straight from the book- even down to the the character dialogue. However, the show added details and characters that are absent in the book. And one of my biggest complaints with the show was that certain things seemed to me like they were unnecessary and added only to confuse the plot, rather than add to it. Thankfully, those are just not present in the book, and so, for me, this was much more streamlined and stuck to the point without getting derailed on dead-end side stories. For instance, Chasseur in the television show, is a pretty fleshed-out character, and we see into her background a lot, and we peek into her love life and family life, and then...it's all irrelevant. Or at least, as season one closed, it seemed that way. In the book, none of that nonsense is there in the first place. Chasseur is there, of course, but only as a passing character in the background. We don't waste too much time on her because she isn't that important. Neither is there any reference to Olivia taking some strange drug that Peter's mother cooks up for her. I thought that was an odd thing in the show that was never explained, and clearly it is something that they added to the plot, not something the author put there.
Now, that said, I have not yet watched season 2, but it on my to-do list for very soon, and I intend to do a review of that as soon as I get to it. Maybe those details become more relevant, and they will irritate me less. We will see. But, the point is, without those ornery details, I enjoyed the experience of reading the book more.
So, when and if further books come in the series, I will be certain to read them. There is definitely more to come for Roman, and I am very interested to know if the plot of the book series and the television series would merge or diverge. For now, though, I have a full season of episodes to go watch, so I'd better get on that.
Find the book on Amazon
And get a peek at the show on IMDB