Cover Image: Lycanthropy and Other Chronic Illnesses

Lycanthropy and Other Chronic Illnesses

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Member Reviews

I didn't finish this. I just struggled to get into it and to be honest, it was really overshadowed by the fact it's a white author writing from outside their experience. If the publishers want to publish stories about Tamil characters, publish Tamil authors. I can't bring myself to support a book like this over own voices, diverse stories.

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this was a lot of fun! Great for spooky season, such a good premise and style. Definitely recommend giving it a go

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Thanks for the arc!

I do appreciate having chronic illness rep, but saw many reviews DNF due to the author being white and writing about a POC. Which did almost make me as well DNF it.

Found the pacing a bit slow and it just wasn't for me in the end.

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A Massive Thank You to the Author, the Publisher and NetGalley for giving me the chance to read and review this book prior to its release date.

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This was a pleasant surprise for me! Lycanthropy and Other Chronic Illnesses follows 20-year-old Priya, who has to drop out of uni and move back to her family home after she contracts Lyme disease. Luckily, Priya finds comfort and community in a group of online friends who all have their own struggles with their health.

One of the friends in this group is Brigid. But when Brigid stops replying to messages one day, Priya spontaneously decides to track her down, and when she does, chaos ensues. It’s kind of wacky and wild but you just have to roll with it.

I don’t have a chronic illness so can’t speak for the accuracy of the depiction, but from an outside perspective it felt like a fresh take on the topic. The novel is infused with plenty of internet humour, with a lot of the story told via Tumblr threads and Discord chats, which I’m sure won’t be for everyone, but it made for a quick read.

Overall, this was a heartwarming story about the importance of community and support, and how vital it is to listen to your body, even if it’s telling you things you don’t want to hear.

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I don't really know how to rate this book, if it was just for enjoyment it'd be a 3. A cute story with some great disability rep. But what bothered me was the author choosing to make the character Tamil when the author is white. It seems that minimal amount of research was done and nothing in this made me feel like the MC'd ethnicity was a significant part of their character, more like it was done for diversity points.

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Funny. Good chronic illness rep. Expect the unexpected. This book came at a good time for me and slowly but surely started my inner healing process through a current tough time

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I love reading a story that meshes traditional horror elements with everyday experiences, especially with much-needed perspectives on life with chronic illnesses. But don't like how the protagonists' ethnic and cultural background seemed like an afterthought or added embellishment at the last moment, with no deep roots or significance other than a stereotypically involved family and occasional lip service. It read like a Becky, not a BIPOC.

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Cute. Some great rep and interesting modern epistolary (forum/WhatsApp) moments, as well as a lovely exploration of friendship and dealing with chronic illness. Oh, and werewolves. Entertaining and thought-provoking in equal measures. It would have been great to have this as I became a new adult.


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“She said that being a woman means everyone hates your body, and your body hates you.”

Priya lived her life as a straight-A student, on track to work in medicine and basking in the freedom of university with her perfect boyfriend. Then she was bitten by a tick.

No, she didn’t gain powers or become a new hero named Super Tick that features alongside Spider-Man and Ant-Man, instead, Priya now has Chronic Lyme disease. This involves a lot less fighting bad guys and a lot more of your own body fighting you. Struggling with fatigue, painful joints and a whole host of other issues after a late diagnosis, Priya finds herself back home and out of sync with her own life.

In comes Brigid. An online pen pal, chronic illness bestie and one of the members of “oof ouch my bones”, an online support group that cracks sick jokes (see what I did there 👀) and vents shared frustrations. Yet, when Brigid goes offline for days, Priya decides the best course of action is to steal the family car, track down Brigid and maybe break in to check if her ride or die isn’t actually dead. Well, Brigid isn’t dead, but she’s not exactly looking a lot like herself right now- wow Brigid what big teeth you have!

Hopefully, at this point, you can pick up how incredibly funny, quicky and cute this book is. It’s got found family vibes (which I’m always a fan of) while dealing with some hard-hitting topics. I can’t speak for the POC main character rep, apart from the fact I’m glad to see it included, but I have had experience with chronic illness, both personally and with close family members and for me this was everything. There was a diverse range of disabilities and chronic illnesses included, and it was so well written and touching and not because it was used as some frustrating disability inspiration porn. It was real and nuanced, from dealing with professional health care prejudice (yes, a massive issue), to misunderstandings and honestly quite often unwanted advice from non-professional acquaintances and even loved ones. It’s hard when it feels like your body is unpredictable and out of your control.

This is also why I freaking love the inclusion of lycanthropy as a chronic illness. It allows for the conventional narrative to be challenged further and unique emotive transformation to occur that encapsulates how it feels to be at odds with your body, especially with a well-spoken feminist lens. It's werewolves like they’ve not fully been explored before but also alongside the stuff we all love, messy friendships, running headfirst into the fire and the whole we need to laugh otherwise we’ll cry vibes.

“People definitely saw me throw a chair at the vending machine,' Spencer says. 'I figure we've got three minutes before security finds us.”

There’s no romance, just Priya and Brigid running about and dragging around the poor animal control guy (we love you really Spencer) and the great peeps on the group chat and I love this focus on friendship. I will say one of the reasons I couldn’t rate it higher was that the plot seemed a bit all over the place, partly due to tension building up and down at different points, I couldn’t work out when we were leading up to the climax as such. Some plot turns felt predictable but then didn’t get fleshed out and still fell flat. I still really enjoyed the book as a whole and where it took the reader, but the plot development could have been stronger.

However, I honestly recommend this book if you’re looking for found family, friendships and chronic illness rep (I mean that’s what everyone’s looking for right?). It’s also a lot of fun!

“But I think that this is just life."
"What is?" I ask.
"Oh, you know. You celebrate. You mourn. And most of the time it's about the exact same thing. It usually cuts two ways.”

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Lycanthropy and Other Chronic Illnesses is a fun, unique werewolf story with engaging characters. The story follows Priya who joins a virtual support group for people with chronic illnesses. When her friend Brigid suddenly goes offline, she worries enough to go check on her only to discover Brigid missing and a horrifying creature locked in her basement. This really is such a fun read. If you're a fan of Vampire Diaries, Teen Wolf, or Twilight, this is a fun one to read. Readers will find the story relatable. Highly recommended! Be sure to check out Lycanthropy and Other Chronic Illnesses today.

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I liked the premise of this book, and I really wanted to like it. Unfortunately, I have the digital copy and the message threads were too difficult/harsh on my eyes. When I get a chance, I may give it a second try with a physical copy and see if it’s better on paper for me. As of right now, this is a DNF.

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Priya worked hard to pursue her premed dreams. When she became while attending Stanford, all that hard work came to a glaring halt. Belatedly diagnosed with Lyme disease, she is now at home recovering and trying to pull her life back together. Luckily, she has a penpal who knows what she is going through, or at least who is going through some type of illness of her own. Together they find a motley crew on Discord who is all dealing with some type of chronic illness. As the group shares more with one another, they create a supportive chosen family. When one of their own goes missing from their regularly scheduled chat, they will do what they have to to discover the issue and help a girl out.

Kristen O’Neal’s Lycanthropy and Other Chronic Illnesses brings awareness to many of the illnesses and conditions that individuals struggle with on a daily basis, and I love that about the book, especially the idea of a fantasy illness thrown in. Based off of the coverage of chronic illness which often gets overlooked in fiction books, I would give the book 4 stars. However, after reading the book, I learned that the author (or perhaps the publisher) is incorrectly claiming an own voices book. I think the current cover is great, but it seems that the publisher originally went with a problematic cover ( I haven’t seen it), which was later changed after negative feedback. We need to call out these issues when they arise.

Disclaimer: A copy was provided by the publisher.

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It took me a little longer than normal to write this review, but considering the dust it kicked up among the community regarding its representation, I wanted to do it justice. This will be a review in 3 parts: the good, the bad, and my response to “the ugly” this book was accused of. In short: I strongly disagree with the wave of negativity that was send this books way.

Lycanthropy and Other Chronic Illnesses combines humour and heart in the telling of its contemporary story with a slight supernatural twists. We follow Priya, who’s dreams of studying medicine have been put temporarily on hold due to her chronic Lyme’s disease. Doing her best to cope with her newly (at times) uncooperative body, Priya finds support in an online Discord group where she meets virtually with other chronically ill young adults. When one of her online friends suddenly falls off the radar for seemingly health-related reasons, Priya reaches out to offer her help, only to find out that her friends illness isn’t quite what she expected it to be. Spoilers: there’s a clou in the title…

What I loved:
When I read “Teen Wolf meets Emergency Contact” as a blurb, I was worried this would be a little too much teenage angst and light-hearted shenanigans, and a too little depth on the important topics addressed here. I couldn’t have been more wrong: Kristen O’Neal strikes a beautiful balance between a fun contemporary with humour and adventure, whilst also facing the challenges of living with a disability/chronic illness as a young adult head-on. I cannot stress enough how important this is: this is a story where chronically ill teens can see themselves in, in a way where not just their “struggles” are done justice, but also their personalities outside their condition. Growing up a chronically ill teen myself, I’ve been sick and tired of the only “illness-representation” for a YA-audience being the insulting likes of The Fault in Our Stars (romanticising cancer) and Everything Everything (view spoiler).
In Lycanthropy and Other Chronic Illnesses we see developed characters, having nuanced conversations and showing actual positive support, friendship and inclusivity toward each other. The way their conversations flow from light-hearted self-deprecating jokes to calling each-other out and dropping insightful bombs like

“I don’t want to define things for you or anything, but you’re allowed to be chronically ill even if someone else seems sicker than you. It’s not a contest.”

It honestly feels realistic, at least to my experience, and completely positive. Through this lighthearted tone, Kristen O’Neal manages to cover an impressive amount of important topics surrounding disability in young-adults, such as coping with protective family, choosing a career with an illness, and the above-mentioned “health-competition” of feeling you aren’t “sick enough”. I haven’t seen many of these topics discussed in YA-fiction before, and I’m excited to see that change.
I was on the fence at first about the choice of framing these conversations in the style of a virtual chat, as it’s often harder for me connect to this writing style. However, I appreciate the choice of portraying these online friendships as a valid support system. Too often, online support and friendship are dismissed as being inferior to real-life connections, whilst especially for people with (rare) disabilities, they can be such a valuable way to connect.
Last but not least importantly, this story was fun. I was along for the ride with Priya& Bridget, their quest for answers and their adventures along the way.

What I didn’t love:
My biggest complaint would be that almost all of the character read a lot younger than their intended ages. Most of that was due to the internet-references and the lingo used amongst them. As someone in the age-bracket of the characters, most of it felt waaay to young for me. In addition to making me cringe a few times (to use the books style: hello r/fellowkids), I also feel like this will date the book quite quickly.
Another small point of critique was the selection of illnesses that the book decided to portray in the secondary characters present in the chat-room. Perhaps I’m nit-picking here, but all of the chronic illnesses portrayed were ones that have already gotten quite a platform, especially online, in recent years (e.g. Endometriosis, Fibromyalgia). Although many of them are still very misunderstood (take Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome for example) the book does little to go into more depth on them, making it feel like a little like “name-dropping” for the sake of representation.

In response to the criticism:
This story’s release has been plagued by some controversy that was stirred up by a few early reactions to the cover and blurb, as well as some negative critique regarding the representation. I want to address the major ones here quickly, as I personally feel the book was done a disservice. Although I deeply appreciate and respect the authors of those first critical reviews for sharing their feelings, I want to offer a counter-opinion as well.

- Not being “own-voices”
The majority of the controversy surrounding this novel came down to the question whether it was “own voices” or not, as it was originally being marketed as such. The issue here being that although the author has a chronic illness, like Priya, she is not of Tamil heritage, like Priya. This raised discussion on both semantics, as well as intersectionality. To address the first: yes, I think this novel deserves to be called “own-voices”. The author wrote a story with disability/chronic illness at its core, whilst having a similar experience/background themselves. Therefore, this is an “own-voices” novel about disability. It’s not an own-voices novel about Tamil culture, but it never claimed to be so. In fact, Priya’s heritage isn’t mentioned in the blurb and played no part in the marketing.
With regards to the second: I think the discussion on intersectionality is an important one. It’s important to recognise that being part of more than one minority-group drastically changes the way one experiences both identities. That being said, how far do we go with this idea? In my opinion, limiting authors to writing only their highly specific situation creates a lot more problems than it solves. Where do we draw the line?
Every reader and every writer exists in their own unique intersection, and no one story will ever get everything right about your unique place in the world. In my opinion, Kristen O’Neal actually does a great job of recognizing this, if you read the novel.

- Offering stereotypical portrayal of Tamil-culture
Honestly, I’m not Tamil so I can’t speak to it. As a sensitivity reader though, I do know the global warning signs to look out for, and didn’t see any. The “overbearing parenting” that some reviewers mentioned is never framed as a cultural thing, rather a result of having a chronically ill child.

- The cover-controversy
This one was frankly a little ridiculous to me. Some people, many of which hadn’t even read the book, rated it one star because the cover was racist. The parallel between the girl and the wolf on the cover being a way to make fun of Tamil people for being hairy(?!). Had they actually read the book, they’d know that the “hairy wolf character” pictured isn’t in fact our POC main character, but her (white) friend.

Language disclaimer:
Throughout this review I use the words “chronic illness” and “disability” almost interchangeable as I don’t have a preference between these “labels” when referring to myself. I do not mean to offend anyone who identifies as one but not the other. Any place either term is used, you can read either, or or both.

Many thanks to Quick Books/Random House for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

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Loved this book!! The main characters are a trip as is the subject matter. You want to be a part of this story. So well done!!

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FINALLY, I have finished this book. This is one of those books that I couldn’t get into so I decided to DNF. But then I kept thinking about it and picked it up again and then got right through it. Sometimes it’s just not the right time to read a book and that was the case here.

First, I think this is a great modern day story. The references and the way people interact in this book are pretty accurate from my perspective. The MC joins a Tumblr group that consists of others that suffer from Chronic illnesses and pain. Through this group she creates friends and a place that brings her comfort. I’m someone that suffers from chronic pain, but don’t consider myself someone with a chronic illness (I get debilitating migraines a couple times a month). So as I could relate to some things, overall this was a new perspective for me. However, as an avid reader, I don’t have many people in my circle of friends and family that enjoy reading but have found some online book clubs that have become my favorite places and people. So I can relate on that level.

This brings me to why I had trouble getting through it. The chat! A lot of the book consists of the conversations in the chat and is viewed as such and for the life of me I could not seem to follow. The different usernames and then real names kept messing me up. But after I took a break and came back I found that I could follow along better.

The story is what brought me back. Priya is a very likable character. The friendship she finds within the group (one person in particular) is what carried the story. I thought it was very well done. And who doesn’t like a bit of werewolf action - I thought it was super clever to put a modern spin on it and compare it to having a chronic illness that a person has to live with for the whole of their life.

I would like to address the controversy as well. As a white female I do not want to say that this is unproblematic because I don’t have the references to make that assumption. However, I do urge people to actually read it before making any assumptions. I’ve seen some issues people have had with the cover which is inaccurate. I don’t want to go into detail because I don’t want to give too much away, but I can say that the problem people are having with the cover is not correct and the cover does not portray what people think.

Thank you NetGalley and Quirk books for this EARC.

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Wow. This might be a harder review than usual for me to write. I requested this book off of Netgalley because I liked the sound of it, I'm a fan of werewolves and also deal with chronic health issues myself. I was not prepared for just how relatable the book was going to be, and how much it was going to tell me things I needed to hear. I think its safe to say this is one of my favorite reads for 2022. Heck, it even got tumblr use right, and as someone still on that ridiculous website, I appreciated that too. Okay, I'm going to try and give it a proper review now.

The book starts with Priya on medical leave from college, dealing with chronic Lyme disease. She's having a rough go of it, her family is caring and supportive but also don't know exactly what she needs, which is rough because she also doesn't know exactly what she needs. It seems her dream of becoming a doctor may not be able to happen and life is both physically and emotionally painful. But she does have support from her best friend, Brigid, who she knows through Tumblr, and who also has a chronic health issue. Brigid gets Priya to join a little support group created by another user and the group quickly becomes not just support but true friends. But when Brigid stops responding after posting a cryptic message, Priya is rightfully worried, and sets out on a road trip to make sure she's okay. Lycanthropy is in the title so I don't think it's a spoiler to say that what is wrong with Brigid is a chronic illness unlike any of the others. Yup, she's a werewolf. But changing is exhausting and painful, and most concerningly, she seems to be doing it more often. Priya, along with an animal control officer turned friend, Spencer, decide to help her, whether she wants the help or not.

Okay I've established I love this book. Let's try for some specifics. I loved the characters, Priya and Brigid especially, but all the side characters too. The group chat feels like a real group chat, of sort of strangers turning into friends, and I loved all of them. Priya's family is awesome, and in my experience so realistic for how families can be when you're health is not good. Her parents try to be supportive by telling her she'll get better and they'll figure it out and she'll be back in school soon, but sometimes that's not the kind of message that is helpful. Sometimes you just need people to acknowledge that things aren't okay and that they're changed for good. I also love Spencer, thrown into everything without choice, but ending up a real friend as well. The pacing of the book was also very good, Priya's health does not always allow her to be active but those parts of the story never felt slow or bogged down. And the werewolf transformations where both satisfyingly horrifying, and also wow did I feel for Brigid. I can't think of anything else to say, I just loved this book and I recommend it wholeheartedly.

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3.50 Stars. A unique read about a serious subject, but done in a more uplifting way. A mix of realism and complete fantasy, this book was easily unlike anything I have read before. I thought this was a good solid story, and I really liked the fact it was different, but I wasn’t blown away by it. I’ve been stuck in this pattern of reading a lot of average to good stories that just don’t make it into the great column and unfortunately that is where this book lands.

I’ve really dreaded writing this review, and my anxiety has been too high for my liking. I did not realize, until I was almost finished reading the book, that this book had a lot of controversy surrounding it. I’m all for pointing out when authors behave badly, but I have to admit I was surprised that this book was so controversial. I could see why the old cover, which has been changed, could be triggering to someone. I’m glad the publishers did the right thing and changed it since it was their fault to begin with. But in my opinion, which I don’t think counts for much as a white woman in this situation, I did not see the very problematic issues with the story that people were talking about. I don’t know if their feelings would change if they read the book, but I can also understand people thinking the book would be too triggering to read. So I think the best I can do as a reviewer is to point out that while I did not see the triggers people upset with the book were speaking about, I’ll still give the warning that this could book could be triggering to some readers.

This paragraph and the next will have light spoilers, although not much more than what the book blurb already gives you. I don’t normally summarize books in my reviews, but because of the serious concerns of this book, I thought I should in this case. While the main character is a young Indian American (Tamil) woman named Priya, this story is really about coping with a new diagnosis of a chronic illness and chronic pain, and how important it is to find support with people that can truly understand what you are going through. While, I can’t speak to the chronic illness rep, I do deal with some chronic pain and I thought O'Neal did quite well in writing about it. People almost never talk about chronic pain in books, and chronic illness too for that matter, so while some of it was sad to read about, I was glad to be reading about it.

While the book has realism with chronic pain, the main storyline is actual complete fantasy. There is a white woman named Bridget, who is in Priya’s Discord chronic illness support group. Bridget and Priya, form this beautiful bond that the word “friendship” almost doesn’t do what they have justice, so imagine Priya’s surprise when she finds out that Bridget is a werewolf! As you might assume, some lighthearted hijinks commence, especially when Bridget’s friend, an animal control officer, is brought into their circle. But as interesting as being a werewolf is, it is hurting Bridget to keep turning into one. And because Priya loves Bridget so much, she wants to help find a cure for Lycanthropy. Can Priya save her best friend?

I do have to mention one pretty big issue for me. While I enjoyed most of the book, I had trouble with reading the chat of the discord server. I thought the chat itself was well written, but the way it was written in red ink color, was really hard on the eyes. Every time the red would change back to black, it messed up my eyes sight and I could not see for a few seconds. This was in the advanced review copy I received, so I really hope this was changed for the books release yesterday. I think I might have actually liked the book better if it wasn’t blinding me so much:)

I would recommend this book to people looking for books that take the subject of chronic illness and pain seriously, but also in an uplifting way. I would also recommend this for people that like werewolves and are interested in reading a fantasy book that looks at weres in a totally different way. This book has controversy that follows it and I’m just going to end by saying that I think this is the kind of book that people should read and from their own opinions about, unless you are worried that it might be too triggering for you. I’m personally glad I got to read this really unique book. It was not the wow book I always hope I’m going to read, but it was a good debut and I enjoyed the different werewolf take.

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As a spoonie myself, I was very interested to read this. I enjoyed the wriring, main character and the storyline for the most part. The dialogue and text boxes really dragged out the story though. Overall, with was entertaining and endearing.

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"Priya worked hard to pursue her premed dreams at Stanford, but the fallout from undiagnosed Lyme disease sends her back to her childhood home in New Jersey during her sophomore year—and leaves her wondering if she’ll ever be able to return to the way things were.
Thankfully she has her online pen pal, Brigid, and the rest of the members of “oof ouch my bones,” a virtual support group that meets on Discord to crack jokes and vent about their own chronic illnesses.
When Brigid suddenly goes offline, Priya does something out of character: she steals the family car and drives to Pennsylvania to check on Brigid. Priya isn’t sure what to expect, but it isn’t the horrifying creature that's shut in the basement.
With Brigid nowhere to be found, Priya begins to puzzle together an impossible but obvious truth: the creature might be a werewolf—and the werewolf might be Brigid. As Brigid's unique condition worsens, their friendship will be deepened and challenged in unexpected ways, forcing them to reckon with their own ideas of what it means to be normal." - Goodreads 🐺💻🍕

This book took me a bit to get into, but the premise was really interesting. The format was a bit odd and took some getting used to. Overall, it is a decent read, but it was more YA than I expected. That isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it wasn't love for me. ⭐⭐⭐

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