Now before you groan, "Oh no, not another sparkly werewolf novel!", I must enlighten you. Kalix isn't that sort of girl. In fact, she's not that sort of werewolf. She's a laudanum addicted, self harming, lost sort of girl with an eating disorder and a chronic case of low self esteem. Low? Her self esteem just never turned up. No wonder she's anxious! And Kalix being Kalix this means everyone around her is pretty anxious too.
The Anxiety of Kalix the Werewolf picks up the story where its predecessor, Curse of the Werewolf Girl, left off, but if you haven't read that or the first book in the series, Lonely Werewolf Girl, it isn't really a problem as each book stands up in its own right. It just means you've missed out on some great fun and adventures and really should go back to the beginning.
Martin Millar's version of the world is a planet where it is perfectly natural for werewolves to live among humans, accompanied by the odd Elemental - and, believe me, there are some very odd Elementals in this world. Take the Fire Queen, Malveria, for one. She has a fashion fetish that would put Victoria Beckham to shame and constantly berates her "dismal niece", Agrivex, for her shortcomings in not being able to control her flames (among many other misdemeanours). But if you ever want someone on your side in an epic battle, it's Queen Malveria, just as long as she can keep her skyscraper heels on.
In The Anxiety of Kalix The Werewolf, we see the Scottish Werewolf Clan - including Kalix's battling family, the MacRinnalchs - wage all out war against the werewolf hunters of the secretive Avenaris Guild. Kalix may be many things but she is a fearless - even reckless - warrior. Somehow, along the way, she also manages to bag herself a rather nice boyfriend. But needless to say, the course of true love hits a succession of potholes. Meanwhile her Self Improvement List just keeps getting longer.
Martin Millar's querky characters are never the sort you would take home to tea with your Great Aunt Maude. They are all seriously flawed, quite outrageous, and Kalix and her companions are no exception to this. They provide a constant source of consternation to the two humans in the story - flatmates Moonglow and her friend Daniel. But the author's skill in creating his characters, and weaving the plot around them, means you cannot help liking the basically unlikeable. And you can't help believing the incredible. Whatever her faults and shortcomings, however impossible she is, you develop a soft spot for Kalix. You want her to overcome her addictions, defeat her enemies and win out in the end.
The Anxiety of Kalix the Werewolf is the longest of the three books (at 665 pages) but doesn't suffer the fate of so many books of its size. It never sags. It grips you and keeps you turning the pages. In achieving this, it proves a worthy successor, not only to the first two books in this series, but also to the great body of work the author has produced so far.
With titles such as The Good Fairies of New York, Ruby and The Stone Age Diet and Dreams of Sex and Stage Diving, to name but three, you know you're in for something a bit different when you pick up a Martin Millar. In fact, not just different - unique. In 2000, Millar won the World Fantasy Award and he just keeps going from strength to strength.
The Guardian newspaper said he had created a new genre, "pulp fantasy noir", while Neil Gaiman said, "Martin Millar writes like Kurt Vonnegut might have written, if he'd been born fifty years later in a different country and hung around with entirely the wrong sort of people."
I couldn't have put it better myself. Go on, treat yourself. You won't regret it.
The Anxiety of Kalix the Werewolf is published by Piatkus and available from good bookshops or by ordering online. Amazon is just one such outlet.
For Martin Millar's website, just click HERE, where you will also find his ongoing online serial, Simulation Bleed