Wannabe-Twilight werewolf romance offers little originality

John Millen
John Millen |

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Low Red Moon

By Ivy Devlin

Published by Bloomsbury

ISBN 978 1 4088 1398 0

Stephenie Meyer's phenomenally successful Twilight novels, millions of which have been sold around the world, have spawned many copycat versions and genre novels hoping to repeat the success.

Black-and-red covered paranormal teen romances now have their own section in bookshops thanks to Meyer. Teenage girls, mostly in American-penned fiction, fall in love with vampires, werewolves and shape-shifters in countless numbers with varying degrees of popularity and success. Ivy Devlin doesn't move too far away from this winning formula.

The best thing about Low Red Moon is the title. Once you get past that, plot and character all become a bit muddled and formulaic, ending up with a novel that will appeal only to Twihards. After that promising, crisp title, Low Red Moon trundles along sometimes unable to decide whether it is a murder mystery or paranormal teen romance. Either way, it doesn't have many original ideas to tempt non-genre fans.

Avery Hood (Little Red Riding Hood? Gettit?) is a bit of a misfit. She lives in a DIY house in the forest where her mother makes fruits-of-the-forest preserves and her father hugs trees. She has no friends at school and, because of her isolated existence surrounded by trees rather than people, she doesn't see the modern world as other teens do. Suddenly, tragedy strikes: Avery's parents are murdered and Avery finds herself sitting next to their bodies covered in blood.

All Avery can remember is a sudden flash of silver cutting through the air as her parents were attacked. The rest is blank. The distressed teenager goes to live with her grandmother, who lives on the edge of the forest. Avery has to leave behind the home she loves, live with a virtual stranger and learn how to deal with the terrible event that has shattered her life.

Yet she need not worry too much, because romance is just around the corner and we all know that in fiction, love can restore hope to even the most shattered life. Avery meets Ben, a new student at school, and the two of them are instantly attracted to each other. Ben is mysterious, solitary and "beautiful"; Avery feels a connection to him that she cannot explain.

Even when Ben confides in Avery that he is a werewolf, her trust in him continues to grow. But one terrible moment, she sees the same flash of silver in Ben's eyes that she saw the day her parents were murdered. Does Ben know more about their deaths than he should? Has he befriended Avery for a sinister purpose?

Low Red Moon will satisfy fans of the teen-paranormal-romance genre - but only just. Devlin doesn't really pull any surprises out of the bag, and the final revelation about the deaths of Avery's parents is obvious to anyone that has been paying attention.

This is a formula novel with a great title. It's a pity that what follows is so ordinary.