Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.
The Lottery – Furry, by Karen Ranney
Seattle, WA, CreateSpace, April 2016, trade paperback $9.95 (232 pages), Kindle $2.99.
This book seems to have drifted in to this furry review site by mistake. Despite its title, and its label as Book 1 of The Furry Chronicles trilogy, it’s a werewolf novel – or more precisely a woman’s paranormal romance novel.
That’s probably natural since Karen Ranney is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of women’s romances; not a furry author. In fact, the three volumes of The Furry Chronicles are a spinoff of Ranney’s previous The Montgomery Chronicles. “You’ll see what happens to Opie, meet Antonia, and follow Torrance’s adventures as well.” (Ranney’s website)
Torrance Boyd is a young junior vet working at Alamo Veterinary Services LLC in San Antonio. She’s a soft touch for all of the stray dogs that an elderly do-gooder finds and brings in there. Torrance can’t bring herself to throw them out again, so she personally pays for heartworm testing, flea dipping, and other medical expenses; which keeps her perpetually broke.
She has another problem:
“I didn’t know, for certain, that dogs shared a communicative bond, but as a species I wasn’t far removed from them. You see, I’m a Were. Ever since my younger brother asked me if that meant we were weird I’ve called myself a Furry, a label that doesn’t endear me to either my family or my friends. At least, those who knew what I was.
Only another Were could recognize me, but even then, we didn’t go around acknowledging each other in public. In other words, we don’t sniff each other. We don’t even venture near the nether regions in our four legged form. Can you imagine meeting the eyes of someone whose butt you just checked out when he was furry?” (p. 5)
That’s background. Her problem is that she recognizes one of the stray dogs that the do-gooder brings in, a handsome Alaskan Malamute/Siberian Husky mix, as Joey Palmer, an adolescent acquaintance who is also a Were.
“A Were transforming into a dog was unheard of, impossible. Of course, humans would say the same thing about being a Were. It’s all in your perspective.” (p. 7)
Werewolves in Ranney’s world are more family-oriented than in the usual werewolf stereotype:
“In the Were culture the women get to name the offspring and Mom went a little wild. My name is Torrance. My brother’s name is Austin. My poor sister is San Antonio. That’s her first name. She’s spent the last twenty-one years explaining that our parents had a geographical fetish. She’s more tactful than I am. I’ve told the truth: we were named for the city in which my mother thought we were conceived.” (p. 12)
How is this different from some families among ordinary humans? Ranney spends pages and pages describing the secret supernatural societies within human civilization, including the old Were families of Europe before they immigrated to America. Aside from revealing that there are also openly-known vampire families while the Weres are still “in the closet”, it sounds mostly like regular American 21st-century culture. There are Were and vampire families just like there are Jewish and Mormon and Seventh-Day Adventist societies. The main difference is that they strictly keep their differences and they don’t intermarry.
Ranney seems contradictory as to just what her Weres are. They don’t seem to do anything except turn into wolves and go for lupine romps through the neighborhood together.
“The Hunt isn’t particularly erotic, but the change does something to the human hormone system. You’re supercharged with friendly feelings. You want to go out and hug the world. When you come back to yourself as human, you want to share those emotions with the first person you see.” (p. 34)
This is the first time I’ve ever seen turning into a Werewolf described as making you friendlier and more caring. There is an obvious problem here that Ranney is aware of, and addresses:
“We rarely gave into the need to mate on four legs. Of course, there were always exceptions, like Joey Palmer, for example, who was known to nip at the neck of his partner and mount her while she was still a Were.” (ibid.)
I can see why Torrance’s parents, siblings, and Were friends are annoyed by her referring to herself as a Furry rather than a Were like the rest of them. By the way, the book’s anonymous cover artist has taken a liberty showing Torrance with obvious wolf ears and whiskers if these aren’t visible when she’s human. Especially if she hasn’t turned Were in years.
“I probably should have called 911, but here’s the truth. I’m not a weak Were. I don’t reveal how strong I am to people. Plus, even though I haven’t changed in years, the capacity to do so was still there. I also work out. I do cardio, strength training, and kickboxing, none of which I brag about or reveal to my coworkers.” (p. 44)
What’s the difference between posing as a submissive, helpless female for years and being a genuine submissive, helpless female? Torrance doesn’t seem to know herself.
“I thought I could handle whatever was happening in the clinic, which might have been pure stupidity on my part. My hands were shaking so much when I tried to insert the key that I had to do it twice. Maybe that was a case of my mind trying to tell me that I wasn’t Super Furry.” (ibid.)
Yeah, that’s an example of a strong woman. I’m going to give away a Spoiler here: what happens in the clinic is that Joey Palmer turns back from a dog to a human. (Or a Were in human form.) He’s a naked man in a cage. Naturally, Torrance is curious.
“I pulled off on the side of the road about a mile from the clinic and looked at Joey.
‘What, where, how, why, when, and who?’ I said. ‘Talk to me,’
He didn’t say a word. In fact, he wouldn’t even look at me. Instead, he looked out the passenger window.
‘Tell me what, exactly, you did.’
‘Come on, Joey.’
‘Why should I tell you?’ He turned and faced me. ‘It’s none of your business.’
Well, that stung, but he was right. Possibly.
‘It became my business when you were picked up as a stray, Joey. I can just imagine what would have happened if anyone else had found you in that cage. Are you going to tell me?’
‘No,’ he said.” (pgs. 46-47)
Twenty pages later people are still telling Torrance “No.” Some assertive woman. Aha! On page 67 we finally get to the plot. And if you want to know what it is, and what the Lottery of the title is, buy the book. It’s paranormal, even if it’s not particularly furry. Torrance sneaks around investigating just like the female amateur detective in the average “cat cozy” mystery novel, and can you doubt that she will get into danger and be rescued by a strong, handsome man/Were who can kiss like a demon? There’s a satisfactory ending, but since this is only Book 1 of The Furry Chronicles, Torrance and her new beau will have further adventures. Read if you’re drenched in feminine hormones.