Gyldan is a member of the privileged class. He has a high paying job — high paying enough that he can support himself and all four of his roommates — a rich boyfriend, and supportive friends. With one phrase, “I know Albion Saint-Richter,” doors open and people scurry to obey. Most importantly, Gyl’s human. He lives in a world where being born something other than human means you are less. You are worth less, owed less, and your death means less.
For those born either Homo lupus or Homo sanguinis, the world is a different place. Registered in childhood, they are treated like monsters. Werewolves are given silver collars that they will live with for the rest of their lives. With a push of a button, a police officer or security guard can make the collars inject silver into the werewolves blood and kill them. It’s live with the collar or don’t live at all. For vampires, things have gotten better. In previous generations, vampires had their eyes removed so they couldn’t use their abilities to control humans. Now they simply have ruby lenses drilled into their heads, over their eyes. Progress.
And the company that makes these collars, that makes these eye guards is none other than Caladrius, owned by Albion Saint-Richter. He’s Gyldan’s boss. He’s also Gyldan’s lover. And Gyldan hopes to do two things with his life: bring down Caladrius, and change Albion’s mind. To open his eyes to the world he’s helped make and the suffering he’s inflicting on people who don’t deserve it. He loves Al, he really does. But his friends — who happen to be werewolves and vampires — and his brother, who was born a werewolf, need a life where they aren’t blinded and collared and killed because somewhere, some human got scared. Or angry.
Gyldan will change the world. Or die trying.
It’s a common trope, the “I can change them” hope of the main character, desperately hoping to turn a friend or love interest from the dark side to the light. Gyldan has it in spades, but he’s not blind to the reality of his hope. You can’t fix someone who doesn’t want to be fixed, and you can’t force someone to open their eyes if they want to remain blind. But Gyl, who sees the good in people — vampire, werewolf, or human — is going to try. He can’t not try, anymore than he could leave Griffin, the blind vampire, to be beaten by a group of kids in the street.
Albion’s toddler son died when his house was attacked by non-humans and he’s never gotten past that loss. He’s driven not just by a need to avenge his son, but by an all consuming need to cleanse the world of anything that isn’t human. He honestly doesn’t think that a vampire or werewolf can be anything but a monster, and that both species must be kept down, kept segregated and beaten down so they can’t rise up against the humans that strip them of their rights and their lives with equal disdain.
Gyl knows this. He’s not blind to Albion’s faults, to the way Albion doesn’t notice or care if Gyl is upset, to the way that Albion lets him walk home in the dark, even knowing a murderous predator is out on the streets murdering people. But … he still loves him.
The allegory in A Cure For Humanity isn’t subtle, but it’s well-written, and Gyldan’s approach both to the man he loves and to his own moral compass is balanced and thoughtful. This story could easily have slid into something simpler, but instead it’s allowed to be complex and confusing. Gyldan is a revolutionary and revolutions are rarely peaceful or perfect. And at the end, there’s no clear answer as to what will happen next. Decisions are made, actions are taken, and it’s left open to interpretation. Do I think Gyl made the right choice? Yes. Would I have made the same one? Maybe, but maybe not.
Would I recommend this book? Absolutely.
The author’s take on werewolves and vampires is interesting and I liked that Haringrey kept the familiar shifter and blood drinker foundation and built them into something new, though more attention was given to the vampires than the werewolves. I love the world building, I love that the scariest things in this book are the humans, I loved almost all of it. I strongly, strongly recommend this book if you’re into paranormal worlds, dystopian worlds, and morally grey characters.
I also really, really hope the author writes more in this world because I’d eat up any other books they write with a spoon.