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Bareback [Paperback]

Kit Whitfield
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
Price: 6.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

4 Jan 2007

Lola Galley is used to doing things she doesn't want. She certainly doesn't want to be assigned the case of Richard Ellaway, the man who, under a cold full moon, mutilated a good friend of hers. But being a bareback, what she wants and what she gets are seldom the same.

For those born feet-first, life is comfortable, and one night a month they lock themselves in a secure room to fur up in peace. Barebacks, trapped in their human skin and drafted at eighteen into the Department for the Ongoing Regulation of Lycanthropic Activity, don't have it so easy. A full moon means patrolling the silent night in search of transformed citizens breaking the curfew. The rest of the month, DORLA agents mop up the after-effects of the trespasses, the fights and the maulings.

Resignedly, she takes the case - but before Ellaway can be tried, her maimed friend is murdered. Lola wants justice. She'll settle for the truth. But in a divided world, asking for the truth may bring answers that you don't want to hear.


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Product details

  • Paperback: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; New Ed edition (4 Jan 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099499452
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099499459
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 19.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 758,236 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"Bareback is neither [quite] horror nor supernatural fantasy, but more a cautionary tale which echoes The Handmaid's Tale or Nineteen Eighty Four...Her story resonates with real issues of power, responsibility and blame" (Lisa Tuttle The Times)

"A gutsy debut...it's hard not to cheer on Whitfield's nerve, especially when her plot, a hard-boiled thriller... rattles along at such a pace" (Hepzibah Anderson Observer)

"Gritty and original" (Guardian)

"Extraordinary" (Kate Atkinson)

"An intelligent book and a moving one" (Time Out)

Book Description

An astonishing first novel set in a world where 99 per cent of the population are werewolves

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars werewolves and murder mystery... 29 Jan 2007
Format:Paperback
Imagine living in a world where 99.6% of the population turn into werewolves once a month, and the remaining few "barebacks" are unable to turn because they've been subtly brain-damaged at birth. This is the world that our protaganist, Lola, inhabits.

"Barebacks" are inferior, poorly paid, and drafted at 18 years old into the Department for Ongoing Regulation of Lycanthropic Activity - DORLA - to risk their lives on a monthly basis making sure the "lyco" elite keep to their curfew and don't hurt themselves. It's a pretty thankless life and for Lola it's about to get worse... a co-worker has just been murdered- shot in the head with a silver bullet - and she might just be next.

This is an well written and atmospheric read. Whitfield has a lyrical grasp of language and plenty of original metaphor. The plot is solid and an interesting twist on the "usual" werewolf-as-the-outsider. I will be keeping an eye out for more of her work.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars great fantasy read 26 Aug 2007
Format:Paperback
Really enjoyed this book. Sounds a bit wierd, as it was depressing in places, and the barebacks' lives sucked the big one, but the style of writing made up for it. As one reader has said, i don't know if i'll read it again as it has no happy ending as such, but would be interested in a sequel to see where the story goes next. This writer's imagination knows no bounds, certainly.

One thing though, this book is also printed as "Benighted", which i only found out when i received it and the first page was instantly recognisable as the start of "Bareback". Bit deflated, actually, as thought i'd found a sequel!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Started well 24 July 2012
Format:Hardcover
I picked this book up in the library and got thoroughly drawn into the world presented within a couple of pages: Lola Galley, the narrator/hero, became a real person.

The depiction of the world where the majority are werewolves and a despised minority are both outcasts and police was just tremendous. (If you are born a "bareback", a not-werewolf, you are destined to work for DORLA (Department for the Ongoing Regulation of Lycanthropic Activity) and spend the full moon policing the werewolves.)

But I found that once the novel moved away from worldbuilding into plot it lost a lot of its appeal. The basic plot ("Girl meets Werewolf, Girl Loses Werewolf") is nothing like as interesting as the world it's set in. In all honesty, I had the usual reaction to it I have to most "Girl Meets Boy, Girl Loses Boy, But Girl Gets Boy In the End" plots, which was to wish that Lola Galley would (a) develop a spine and (b) either learn to enjoy being single or at least stop falling for the scummy guy. The fact that the scummy guy was a werewolf did not in fact make him any more interesting or appealling or make me understand why Lola Galley fancied him and was sorry to lose him.

I can't say whether the plot moved on and became more interesting or even if it just folded into the traditional third denoument ("And Girl Got Werewold In the End") because I lost interest, stopped reading, and then had to take it back to the library.

But if you like romance-y novels with werewolves, you may like this! I can't fault the worldbuilding.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
By Laura
Format:Hardcover
'Bareback' is a thriller, above all; it's also a detective mystery, a deep character study, and a fully-realised alternative reality. The heroine is a scarred veteran - at 28 - of a small group of despised civil servants, conscripted into the system because they are non-werewolves. These few are charged with keeping the world functioning during moon nights, when all the normal citizens turn into wolves and start destroying things. It becomes an eerily reversed examination of discrimination, as the characters we consider to be human are universally regarded by the others, and more interestingly by themselves, as lacking something, disabled and weak. And there's also a fine awareness of the powers of bureaucracy and 'public opinion', as the hapless werewolf hunters are routinely injured and killed by the wolves, but cannot themselves risk inflicting damage without offending the ruling majority - and yet even that polarity is disturbed by Whitfield, as it becomes apparent that the non-werewolves take their revenge in numerous ways, acting as a secret police force whose power is supreme, and corruptible, in the underground prison cells.

The premise is interesting enough, then; what drives the book along, however, is a brilliant combination of detective thriller with a genuinely literary level of character development and depth. The plot rattles along with gripping speed; and our involvement in the mind of the heroine is huge. Whitfield's dialogue is utterly convincing in its qualities of miscommunication, and her heroine's flaws and weaknesses are as apparent as her strengths.

Above all, whatever your genre preferences or prejudices, 'Bareback' is worth a try: it's an extremely entertaining novel, which demands to be read at a sitting, and stays in the mind for a long time afterwards.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Four and a Half Stars 13 Aug 2007
Format:Paperback
Lola Galley lives in a world where over 99% of the population are lycanthropes. As a 'bareback' for the one night a month of the full moon she patrols the town searching for transformed citizens breaking curfew, taking them into custody and prosecuting them. We follow her life over the course of one investigation.

For anyone attracted to this book because it has werewolves in it - proceed with caution. I'd classify this as alternative history rather than urban fantasy, set in a world where there are no simple answers, only difficult choices.

Lola works for DORLA (Department for the Ongoing Regulation of Lycanthropic Activity). Everyone who works for DORLA is anmorphic - barebacks. They are the minority of the population put in charge of the majority when that majority cannot be responsible for their own behaviour - on the night of the full moon. DORLA have a separate legal system, they arrest without trial, interrogate, disappear people. But they do it within the framework the majority have given them. From the moment they are born a bareback's life course is already set, they will go to work for DORLA, there is no other choice for them.

Lola is not always an easy character to like. I jotted down whilst reading that she wasn't sympathetic but I feel this is wrong. It's only by reading the whole book that you understand her. Particularly her confrontation at the end, as she is trying to explain to a lyco what being a bareback is actually like. Her story is heartbreaking because she is caught in a hard, brutal life that she cannot escape from. Through Paul and Leo, Lola's life is opened to something new but it's such a fragile delicate thing. At the end of the book I was hopeful but I prefer happy endings.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars BAREBACK.
Set in a world populated by Lycos/Lunas (werewolves) and Nons/Barebacks (humans) Bareback is loosely an urban fantasy, sort of a crime thriller and kind of a romance. Read more
Published 17 months ago by Tracy Terry
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read with real characters and situations
The plot has been well described by other reviews so no need to rehash it. What I did like was the way in which the fantasy element (the werewolves) was not the core of the book. Read more
Published on 18 Sep 2011 by Katy May
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting parallels
I tend to prefer vampire fiction but this book was recommended in a magazine I read recently and having similarities with the recent film 'Daywalkers' I thought I would give it a... Read more
Published on 17 Mar 2010 by PJ Rankine
4.0 out of 5 stars Bareback by Kit Whitfield (reviewed by Kelvin M. Knight)
The cover of Bareback is perplexing: what does an enormous full moon, blotting out everything, have to do with the title? Read more
Published on 8 Feb 2009 by K. M. Knight
2.0 out of 5 stars Beknighted or Bareback - still the same to me
I didn't enjoy this book as much as I expected to, I had hoped this book would be as good as the recommendations that came to me. I liked it, but it won't be a keeper. Read more
Published on 12 Sep 2008 by Kelly
5.0 out of 5 stars A real find
I picked up Bareback by chance and was immediately engrossed by it. Kitfield's strange-familiar world is utterly convincing, her skill as writer and storyteller compelling. Read more
Published on 30 Nov 2007 by Readaholic
4.0 out of 5 stars Different Werewolves
In a world where being a Werewolf is normal and not being a were is actually caused at birth by minor brain damage this is an interesting story variant on the werewolf story. Read more
Published on 6 Oct 2007 by Wyvernfriend
5.0 out of 5 stars A Real Treat
After reading so many American books, it's nice to read an urban fantasy book by a different author - this one is English, even though the city her characters inhabit is fictional. Read more
Published on 17 Sep 2007 by Tez Miller
5.0 out of 5 stars clever and unique!
'Bareback' is a great read! Cleverly written and a sharp story that contributes to her unique style of writing. Read more
Published on 1 Oct 2006 by Ru Brooks
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