Shelby’s been caught one too many times breaking curfew with a boy. And this time her awful stepmother means business: she decides, and convinces Shelby’s dad, to send Shelby to a summer camp for moneyed but rebellious teens. Brat camp, that is. At least it’s woodsy Camp Crescent and not Red Canyon Ranch — where the kids have to do military boot camp in the desert — but she’s still none too thrilled. At camp she meets Austin Bridges III, who wants her help with something that’s strictly against the rules. She has no intention of getting in trouble with the counselors and possibly getting sent to Red Canyon, but then she learns that Austin’s issues are way stranger than she ever imagined…
Never Cry Werewolf is a YA paranormal tale about, you guessed it, werewolves. It’s nothing earthshaking, but it’s cute and entertaining. It’s really short, at just over 200 pages, and this mostly works in its favor — no padding.
The romance between Shelby and Austin is sweet, and unfolds in a way that makes sense for teen characters. Often in paranormal YA, a relationship will be touted as an epic love for the ages when the characters have known each other only a few days, which tends to annoy older readers, but at the same time I can see where these authors are coming from — I remember being a teen and how everything seemed so momentous then. Heather Davis strikes a good balance between respecting that teenage intensity and keeping adult readers from rolling their eyes. Shelby and Austin comment that they feel like they’ve known each other longer than they really have, but Davis doesn’t throw in any unrealistic outward manifestations (i.e. they don’t get married or find out they’re cosmic soulmates).
Never Cry Werewolf also touches upon the issue of grief. Shelby’s mom died a few years ago, and that loss and her father’s subsequent remarriage has driven a wedge into the father-daughter relationship. I really felt for Shelby every time this plot thread surfaced, and the main reason I’d want the book longer would be to deal further with this.
Other good points are the sarcastic humor that peppers the book and Shelby’s solution to the problem at the climax, in which she combines taking responsibility for her actions with protecting Austin’s secret.
This is a light read that will entertain you for a few hours. Davis has released a novella-length sequel in ebook format, Sometimes by Moonlight, and I might just buy it sometime for my Kindle. Never Cry Werewolf ends with an ominous plot hook and I’m also curious about how the dad situation will be resolved.