Debut novel is an urban fantasy for grown-ups.
Debut novel is an urban fantasy for grown-ups. Photo Contributed

Book review: Who's Afraid? a debut with serious bite

THE title of Maria Lewis's debut novel is a challenge as much as it is a question.

Who's Afraid? follows 20-something Scottish art curator Tommi Grayson as her search for information about her biological father unwittingly uncovers the literal monster within her.

Tommi had a relatively normal upbringing in Dundee, believing herself to be the product of her mother's rape by a mysterious man in her native New Zealand.

But the death of Tommi's mother sets her on a path to finally uncover her Maori heritage.

What she discovers, though, is that her long-lost Kiwi side of the family is actually a pack of werewolves and those same genes are inside her, waiting to be awakened.

But that's only the beginning as she learns werewolves are part of an entirely new, shadowy underworld of supernatural creatures governed by their own rules.

This urban fantasy tale has an easy flow, told from Tommi's perspective, and I found it hard to put down.

Any comparisons to Twilight don't do Who's Afraid? justice.

Firstly, it's well written and secondly, it's more bite than romance.

You could say Tommi is a bit like Bella if you skip to the last Twilight book where Bella is an ass-kicking vampire.

True Blood is a better comparison and, like it, Who's Afraid? is not a young adult novel.

Its heroine is a fully grown woman who is more focused on her career, at least before she discovers her fierce alter ego, than her love life.

Lewis creates an intriguing world that's just begging to be fleshed out in further books (she has four more in the pipeline). While she sticks to some of the genre's well-known tropes, she also sidesteps others.

It's a mix that should make urban fantasy readers feel comfortable while also engaged and intrigued as she lays the building blocks for what has the potential be a very successful series.

Who's Afraid? is available from Booktopia, Amazon, Goodreads, eBay and Big W.