Short Story Review: Werecat: The Rearing by Andrew J. Peters

For Jacks Dowd, a college senior who feels ungrounded from his family and life in general, an alcohol and sex-infused weekend in Montréal sounds like a pretty good escape. His Spring Break binge takes a detour when he meets Benoit, an admiring drifter with startling green eyes. A hook-up turns into a day, two days, and then a full week in Benoit's hostel, making love and scarfing down take-out food. But at the end of the week, Benoit demands that Jacks make an impossible choice: stay with him forever, or go back to college and never see him again.

There's something dangerous about Benoit, but Jacks has fallen for him brutally. The night before Jacks is supposed to return to college, he finds Benoit in Mont Royal Park, where they first met, to try to work things out. Benoit springs on Jacks an unfathomable secret: he's a mythical creature, half man and half jungle panther. He traps Jacks in an abandoned cabin and performs an occult rite so they will be mated forever.

Jackson Dowd is on a weekend trip to Montreal with his friends when he wanders into a park while drunk and ends up in a ditch.  He wakes up in a cabin of sorts on the park property and is greeted by Benoit, the man who found him and took care of him.  Though Jacks is understandably leery of Benoit at first they end up spending the day together and having a great time.  In fact they never separate and end up in Ben's hostel making love for a week.  During this time Jacks only vaguely lets his friends know where he is and that's he hooked up with someone.

At the end of the week it's time for Jacks to return to college (he's a senior with just a few months til graduation) and Benoit's not happy at all.  He sneers at Jacks' suggesting that Benoit visit him at college and when Jacks mentions the word boyfriend he seems even more disgusted.  Benoit gives Jacks a choice:

"Come back tonight to where we met.  After the park closes.  With only what you wore the night I found you.  Do it, if you want to be with me."

Jacks is torn but decides that he doesn't want to lose Benoit so meets him in the park.  There Benoit ends up turning Jacks into a werecat without his consent. 

While the months pass Jacks isn't exactly happy with his transformation or with Benoit.  They head to New York City to get lost.  When Benoit finally asks Jacks to go out hunting with him one night Jacks is happy that he's finally being included but what occurs after sets off events that leaves Jacks wondering what he's going to do with his life.

The story is told in alternating chapters - present day in New York first and then  flashbacks to 3 months prior and so on.  I can't say that I was a fan of the format.  I think that the story was short and succinct enough to have laid it all out in order.  Of course during the first chapter we get the feel for Jacks' discontent with his relationship and it does flavor the rest of the book, imho.

Jacks, to me, was a young, idealistic man who didn't quite know what he wanted. It never actually stated what he was going to school for so I never got a sense that he was all that excited about graduating.  When he met Benoit he was so easily influenced just by a man who was paying him a modicum of attention and not sharing anything of his life with him.

Benoit, I can honestly say, was a complete bastard.  For such a short story he really showed his true colors and I didn't like what I saw.  Neither did Jacks which made me like Jacks even more. Benoit was possessive, domineering, unaffectionate and condescending to Jacks.  The fact that he changed Jacks without informing him of what he was or giving him the choice really pissed me off.  I won't tell you what happens but I really thought the end of the book was apropo.

This is definitely not a romance, definitely a darker read emotionally, I think I can see one happening for Jacks in future books.  I wasn't a huge fan of the writing at first but it grew on me toward the end and I'm interested to see what happens with Jacks in future stories.  

Rating: 3 out of 5

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