Read: September 2019
Author: J.R. Rice
Genre: Mystery & Suspense
Pages: 445 (paperback)
Selected By: BillMo
“The large river-island of Bane County has a troubled past; but some histories are eagerly forgotten, especially those written in blood. Nestled into the foothills of the National Wildlife Refuge, the small rural town of Silver Canyon seems idyllic to most, but a long-slumbering evil is about to reawaken.
“Seventeen-year-old Bryce McNeel is your average teenage boy, living on a cattle ranch with his grandparents. Well, average genius, but he prefers to keep that fact to himself – no one likes a know-it-all.
“When Bryce learns of a series of grisly deaths and mutilations that occurred decades earlier, his curiosity gets the better of him. Together with his cousin, Jackson, Bryce sets out to learn more about the macabre event… but as they delve deeper into the history and legends of Bane County, the two boys are horrified by what they find.
“Unfortunately, history has a way of repeating itself.”
This book reminded me of a cheesy horror movie. All blood and carnage with a weak predictable plot line. I liked it! What can I say? This definitely was a guilty pleasure for me. I liked it like I liked Tom Delonge’s Strange Times: The Ghost In The Girl. I might just read the second book for fun. Why only two teacups you ask? Well, I didn’t say it was good. It was entertaining while being gross, predictable, and did I mention cheesy? Sometimes the story seemed to be gross just to be gross but that leant it that C class horror movie feel that you could see playing out in your mind. The werewolf is your tall, lanky, long fingernailed, muscled monster. Kind of like American Werewolf in Paris.
“The Standing-Wolf lives here for the same reason we do,” he said, “… because it’s a good place to hide.”
Our main character Bryce was…shall I say annoying? Yes, I think I will but in my cast for this movie I have decided a young Liam Hemsworth will play him. This miraculously makes me like him better. He is supposed to be really smart. Off the charts kind of smart. In order for the author to emphasize this he uses words that are out of the realm for your average Joe. Sometimes it sounds like he Googles words just to make his character seem smarter. I prefer the way J K Rowling writes about Hermione. It just feels right and she is able to get the point across without seeming like she’s trying too hard. He also has Bryce talk about the different uses of silver in reference to being a weapon against the supernatural. This really did sound like the author Googled why silver was a weapon against the supernatural and listed it straight from the internet.
He was what Bryce referred to as “old-man tough.”
I don’t really have a character that I hated nor did I have one that I really liked. I also was envious of the power the werewolf had but I didn’t like him since he hurt animals… oh and I guess people but more so the animals.
“Those damn kids must be smoking the pot.”
So, one thing I would take to heart is that if an old gypsy fortune teller says not to go into the woods and is very frightened for me I’m not going into the woods. I’m getting a hotel or just getting in the car and driving far away. Maybe I’ll even take refuge on some holy ground with a circle of salt around me just to be safe. A morale from the story is: if you ignore the fortune teller you deserve to get eaten.
“If Jackson ever has an idea, it’ll die of loneliness.”
(Insert sarcastic voice and just be aware that this paragraph may be a small spoiler:) I really enjoy the realistic description of a teenage boy where one girl he’s interested in could have been eaten by a monster can quickly be replaced by another prettier girl. Yes he didn’t get a chance to really know the potential monster snack but still a little bit tacky if you ask me. I guess if this were real then a teenage boy would be driven by hormones so I shouldn’t be too hard on him.
“This place isn’t a mine,” Culley muttered, horrified. “It’s a meat locker.”
I feel like I’m giving some things away but I want to share some flaws I saw with this story. A member of the community found the den of the werewolf. They figured out the pattern of the monster with its hunting seasons and that it eventually hibernates. Why wouldn’t you go after it once you know that it’s in sleepytime mode? Or if the monster relocated why wouldn’t you go after it and then tell the readers that it moved and continue to look for it. Or why doesn’t the town move? I have no idea but I may read the next to find out. If I do I’ll follow up with a review. I hope it ends better than The Mazerunner series.
Pain always had a way of lowering a person’s tolerance for such things.
If you like silly gross horror movies give this a try. If you don’t you’ll hate this book.
BillMo’s Favorite Character(s): Snip.
BillMo read the Amazon Kindle edition of this selection.
I couldn’t put my finger on it, initially, but I’m not a fan. There is a repetitive nature to the writing that is a bit distracting to me versus reinforcing. While he is very descriptive in most of the novel, again, the same descriptions keep coming forward ad nauseum. While a little push may be needed to remind a reader of a certain fact or element of the story that needs a keep the reader aware, the author does it entirely too often in this novel. It may even cut down on some of the volume of the book, which seems to make it drag on and on, in my opinion.
I commend the author on any scientific research completed as a result of attempting to give the book a more realistic or scientific feel in certain respects, specifically the explanation of the cicadas seventeen-year hiatus. It lays a foundation for the werewolf cycle in the novel. I do appreciate that the grandfather made a clever observation toward the start of the novel regarding what if cicadas were clever enough to be forgotten by predators, what if a predator adopted the characteristic of a cicada and allowed itself to be forgotten and then revive to wreak havoc again. However, I do not appreciate the length of the novel it took for it to come around to this fact.
I would assume that because the werewolf was forgotten during its nineteen-year hibernation, we can expect folks to be a bit discombobulated and unaware how to deal with the threat. Yes, we can assume that because the younger generation doesn’t know about what happened in years past will not be aware and also that some of the older folks would rather forget what has transpired because of the past trauma. Out of sight, out of mind, so to speak. Also, the idea to bury the bad experiences and thoughts, hoping to never repeat them again is futile and especially in this case. So, we have a series of errors, missteps and quite frankly idiocy throughout. I guess we can say if you don’t know what you are combating, you have no idea how to combat it, and therein lies the quandary.
Rather than prolong this like the author, I will just simply say, I was unimpressed and annoyed throughout the novel. The only thing that pushed me forward in reading was wanting to get a resolution or the morbid side of me wanted to know who was going to be the next victim. I had no investment in characters, it was all very formulaic to me. I would say I got to 62% and wanted to skim the rest to just to get to the end. Alas, I pushed through and couldn’t have cared less and it is what it is.
Esbe’s Favorite Character(s): Bryce.
Lady Esbe read the Amazon Kindle edition of this selection.
Well, that was… something, I guess? To give credit where credit is due, I will say that up until about the halfway mark I was holding steady at a two-cup review (i.e., This Book is OK), but after that… well, the one good thing it had going for it was really not enough for me to say I thought it was even OK, in the end. So, let’s start with what’s bearable about this novel:
It has the same overall feeling as an ’80s monster flick. It’s sort of like a cross between Silver Bullet, The Monster Squad, and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2: there’s a spunky, precocious teenage protagonist who comes out on top despite the fumbling and bumbling of inept small-town law enforcement officials, his loyal but floundering best pal, his dotty but doting grandparents, a couple of hot teenage girls with whom he can flirt when not hunting monsters, an old Romanian Gypsy seer who imparts ancient but cryptic knowledge about the vile monster upon our young hero, a Native American who appears just long enough to provide supplementary knowledge about the rumors among indigenous people of a walking wolf-beast before disappearing back into the woods, and a monster of unknown origins and purpose who seems to exist solely to revel in over-the-top carnage.
Now, that’s not to say that all of those things made this novel likeable. Not at all. It’s like flipping through your television channels, passing all sorts of things you genuinely like but for which you are just not in the mood, only to land on what you identify in a nanosecond as The Gate – suddenly, the voice of your inner child squeals with glee at the memories of those ridiculous demon things, and the next thing you know, you’re rolling your eyes through the entire remaining hour of this movie for which you haven’t given a second thought in three decades and which, if asked, you would readily admit was a dreadful, dreadful movie.
The catch, of course, is that The Gate – and movies like it – were made 20 – 30 years ago, when it was acceptable to have such stereotypical characters and people didn’t expect much from their horror save gallons of blood and buckets of bits. But now it’s 2019, and I just…
I expect more from a modern horror novel. At the very least, I expect the scariest thing in that horror novel not to be the author’s apparent lack of knowledge of or blatant disregard for proper punctuation. Maybe it’s different in the DTF version (Dead Tree Format – i.e., paper) of the novel, but in the digital version, the punctuation is a damn mess. It’s all over the place. The overuse and misuse of something as basic as the common comma was a terrible diversion – they appear in place of an ellipsis, to separate coordinating adjectives, and just seemingly at random.
But beyond that, I expect so much more. I’m not the sort of reader who holds all books to modern standards and expectations, regardless of when they are written or in what context certain attitudes are expressed (i.e., I’m not outraged at Gone with the Wind‘s use of the “n” word, I don’t grow indignant at Catcher in the Rye‘s throwaway attitude towards women in general, and I don’t become exasperated in the least by the punctuation or prose of Austen, Dickens, or Swift), but with a book written in 2016, I expect more.
I expect the inclusion of a Native American character to mean more than some guy in the woods with a name like “Sam (Insert-Adjective-Here)-Feather” whose sole purpose is to regale our teenage wunderkind with the indigenous local legends surrounding the werewolf. Which, in case everyone’s forgotten in these post-Twilight years, isn’t really a Native American “thing” – some indigenous tribes have legends of skin-walkers, but the werewolves as we know them are a distinctly European invention.
I mean, with the inclusion of the old Romanian Gypsy seer, we pretty much had our go-to for exotic foreign wisdom, right? Oh, and let us not forget that the old Romanian Gypsy seer has a granddaughter, who is, predictably, very beautiful, very close to her aged grandmother, and a talented seer herself.
The remaining characters are pretty familiar to anyone who grew up watching those 80s horror films, as well: the over-zealous but well-meaning deputy, the bumbling and swaggering sheriff, a few fluff characters who are there solely so they can die gruesome deaths, a couple of fluff characters added as diversions, and, of course, the big, bad beasty. Who is… y’know… big. And bad. And clawed. And fanged. And fuzzy all over. Y’know… basically a werewolf, but without the wer.
There are a couple of scenes where characters try to make stands against said werewolf and another couple which demonstrate the unreliability of vehicles in the direst of circumstances. Some people go missing, but that’s okay, because they’re mostly non-entities, anyway. A couple of dogs go down hard, which is lamentable and unnecessary, but they died defending their humans, so I guess most people would find that noble and acceptable.
The ending had that Night Gallery: The Caterpillar feeling (you know the one: “… and females lay eggs…”) – you knew before you even got to that point that it wasn’t over, there was no way it was over, but when you hear it, all you can do is throw your hands up, because of course it would go that way.
If you’re in the mood for some 1980s monster-slasher nostalgia, you may be into this one. Personally, when I’m in the mood for that sort of thing, I just go watch one of my childhood faves, so I’m going to walk away from Bane County and hope to never return.
Elle Tea’s Favorite Character(s): No one.
Elle read the Amazon Kindle edition of this selection.