Barking Madness is the classic werewolf tale given a modern twist and set in a small town in the US. Rosetta is the new girl in the school, while Michael has lived in Ashwood his entire life. He knows immediately that this hot new girl is out of his league. She gets together with the high school quarterback, while Michael is tormented by his friends for being too chicken to talk to a girl, much less ask her out.
Tragically, the quarterback is killed by a monstrous wolf and Michael happens along to save Rose, but not before she is bitten. The story progresses from there in the manner of werewolf stories with a few twists to make it unique.
Unfortunately there are a few problems with the book. The first is that at 270,000 words it is a huge book to read through. The size alone wouldn’t be as much of a problem if most of those words were about the werewolf, but we don’t meet the wolf until we’ve read more than twenty thousand words. The opening of the book is standard teenaged angst. Even after the wolf makes its appearance more of the book is about the angst than it is about the story at hand. Barking Madness could be cut down severely without losing any of the impact of the story. It would be stronger without the distraction.
The second issue with the book is the alternating first person narration. Michael and Rose take turns as narrator. I’m not fond of this style to start with, but when there isn’t a lot of difference in the voice of the narrator, it is difficult to take. The main difference is that Michael complains about his father, and Rose complains about her life.
The last issue, which is the most minor is that none of the characters are very likeable. They are mean to each other, selfish with their families and for the most part shallow. The good things they do are almost in spite of themselves, not because they have much interest in being good.
Now in case you are thinking that this is a waste of a quarter of a million words. It isn’t. There are parts of the book that will send chills along your spine. You just need to decide if they are worth the work of finding them.