Ivy Cole and the Moon, by Gina Farago
May 13, 2007
In Ivy Cole and the Moon, the title character is a dog trainer/vigilante werewolf who lives in the North Carolina mountains. As the death toll rises on each month’s full moon, it becomes obvious that Ivy isn’t the only predator in the small community. Ivy’s position becomes more risky as the townspeople become increasingly paranoid, especially because there are some non-supernatural reasons for her to be seen as a suspect.
Reading Ivy Cole was a nice change of pace for me. It’s more of a horror story, complete with a decent amount of gore. The romantic subplot is awkward, but it doesn’t overwhelm the rest. Some of the minor characters were very engaging and I liked the setting a lot. I especially enjoyed Farago’s descriptions of the outdoors.
Unfortunately, there were plenty of things I was unhappy with. There were several threads that were left hanging and actions that weren’t justified very well (for example, Ivy’s aunt does something towards the end that there wasn’t a good explanation for). At times I felt like the characters were lecturing each other about wolf behavior, supernatural legends, or historical murderers more because Farago wanted to include interesting research than because it moved the plot. There were also a few plot twists that didn’t make much sense to me.
But the biggest problem I had with the book was Ivy Cole herself, I found her pretty unlikable. I had no problem with the werewolf vigilante part, but Ivy wasn’t believable as an experienced werewolf who wanted to settle permanently in Doe Springs. She was sometimes messy in wolf form, but as a human she was reckless to the point of seeming stupid. She kept evidence against herself, told lies that were easily uncovered, and let a detective borrow a major clue. Ivy seemed confident that no one would believe the truth, but even the widespread disbelief in the supernatural shouldn’t make her that careless.
I don’t want to make Ivy Cole and the Moon sound worse than it is. It isn’t a bad book, just a flawed one. I liked the basic premise, the gore, and the small-town atmosphere, and on the strength of those things I’d read at least one more book by Farago. I just hope that her next novel is something different and I can connect with the main character better.