March 31st, 2008

there!, Hello

It was a dump on the Western Boulevard called the Vanguard Hotel.

Recipe for a relaxing Sunday: lying stretched out on the couch, bathed in sunlight or reading lamp glow, reading books...

Le sigh.

Today's subject is the first line from:

28) Ravenous by Ray Garton (2008, Leisure Books, 342 pages)
The third of Leisure Books’ recent werewolf novels (three over four months or so), Ravenous pays homage to the worst elements to this critter, while somehow ending up as a creative and fun (if rather gory) novel. I might opine “Ravenous does for werewolves what Salem’s Lot did for vampires!” While the sentiment is not quite off – the book includes both (1) a decrepit house with a bloody history that acts like a beacon to darkness, and (2) the petty evils of the humans (monitored through several skillfully handled concurrent plotlines) feeding into the supernatural horror (in this case, we’ve a community full of raging appetites, particularly of a sexual bent, of which the weirder aspects of the invading werewolves is but an extreme extension) -- there's more going on here than a King riff.

And yet, for my money, the most interesting parts of the book were the most King friendly bits: the way these characters interacted, the slow destruction of the community as an insidious evil spread unknown amongst it... The action sequences that fill the final sections (as the Sherriff, a Werewolf Hunter and other characters try to take the fight to the shapeshifters) held less resonance for me, despite the attempt to make at least one of the werewolves a sympathetic critter.

While, I had some quibbles about the pseudoscience on display (this lycanthropy, you see, is a sexually transmitted virus), after talking virus transmission shop with resident expert ladyscience but decided to suspend my disbelief a little further and just have fun.

Too bad the first third of the novel is so prone to annoying repetition. Example:

The gurney closest to them was empty. The sheet had been thrown back, and whoever had been lying there was gone.
“Holy shit,” George said, his voice suddenly hoarse and breathy. He stared at the empty gurney with his mouth hanging open. “He's gone,” he said in an almost whisper.
(pg. 33)

Classic case of the comic book caption and the word balloon repetition that is completely unnecessary (a technique that drives me up the wall). This almost caused me to stop reading, which would have been a shame since the story in the later chapters gets pretty fun. It’s a b-movie for the mind’s eye theatre, meaning it surpasses b-movies in just about every way. Better special effects, a cast of quirky characters (with at least one over the top, irredeemable bastard), and some seriously squirm inducing moments...

It feels like The Howling meets Peyton Place as envisioned by someone like John Merz (author of the Lawson novels) or James Cameron.
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