Of Friendship and Werewolves

Lycanthropy and Other Chronic Illnesses by Kristen O’Neal

Publication Date: April 27, 2021

Summary from NetGalley:

Priya worked hard to pursue her premed dreams at Stanford, but a diagnosis of chronic Lyme disease during her sophomore year sends her back to her loving but overbearing family in New Jersey—and leaves her wondering if she’ll ever be able to return to the way things were.

Thankfully she has her online pen pal, Brigid, and the rest of the members of “oof ouch my bones,” a virtual support group that meets on Discord to crack jokes and vent about their own chronic illnesses.

When Brigid suddenly goes offline, Priya does something out of character: she steals the family car and drives to Pennsylvania to check on Brigid. Priya isn’t sure what to expect, but it isn’t the horrifying creature that’s shut in the basement.

With Brigid nowhere to be found, Priya begins to puzzle together an impossible but obvious truth: the creature might be a werewolf—and the werewolf might be Brigid. As Brigid’s unique condition worsens, their friendship will be deepened and challenged in unexpected ways, forcing them to reckon with their own ideas of what it means to be normal.

ARC provided by Quirk Books via NetGalley for an honest review.

Confession:

At its heart this book is all about friendship and how hard you will fight for it no matter how strange that friend may turn out to be. I loved the characters and the story that even though it has a supernatural element, felt ever so real.

Priya is the sole narrator for the story, and you feel for her right away. She has been dealt a harsh hand, suffering from the chronic effects from Lyme’s disease and having to give up college and possibly her choice of career because of it. Also, returning home to live with your parents after a couple of years is no easy picnic either. But even on her bad days, Priya is amazing in her bravery and facing her issues. She is also such a supportive friend and that is where this story will really get you.

Brigid is also a wonderful character. She is smart and funny and is trying really hard to not let her problems get in her way. She wants to be independent, but is finding it so difficult with everything else in her life. She is also a good friend to have when you are feeling down as she will always be there to cheer you up.

Spencer comes into the story about half way, but I just loved him. He is an instant friend to both Priya and Brigid and really accepts the truth of what is going on so willingly but is still slightly freaked out about it.

I don’t want to say too much about the story as much of it you just have to read to understand. I can’t speak to how well chronic illness was portrayed in this story, but it felt honest and real to me. I thought the author handled the ups and downs of living with chronic illness quite well. I also liked the supernatural element. I was a little nervous that we were going to have werewolf Twilight on our hands, but it really wasn’t. I loved the whole werewolf story line and how Priya helps Brigid with it.

The writing was well done with nice pacing and hardly any horror with the werewolf scenes. I only have one small minor complaint, in that the online chats with the support group didn’t work for me, but that could just be me showing my age. It might have been the formatting too. The chats didn’t seem to serve the story much either, except to bring in more perspectives on chronic illness.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It really is a wonderful story about friendship, chronic illness and werewolves. I highly recommend that you give this one a try, I don’t think you will be disappointed.

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