Deines, in this first installment of a planned four-part series, takes familiar conceits of fantasy and horror—werewolves, vampires and brave, relentless heroes—and freights them with religious significance.
This novel set in in the Pacific Northwest in the mid-1980s reveals its tone in its opening pages: A beast, posing as a Baptist minister, shows the minister’s wife the corpse of a man he recently disemboweled. The shocked wife cries out for God’s intervention, but the beast assures her that no god is coming. In the following scene, readers then see teenage protagonist Eric Sharpe stuck in an outhouse, armed with a gun loaded with massive silver bullets, as he hides from a cadre of werewolves that has it in for him. The story largely switches back and forth between Eric’s present-day adventures and those of one year before, when Eric was in high school, fighting off bullies and catching the attention of evil forces. This nonlinear storytelling sets the stage for a tale of God’s good warriors facing off against evil, deceptive monsters. Deception, in fact, is the book’s major theme: What truly makes werewolves monstrous, Deines seems to say, is their capacity for deception; readers may be reminded often of the seventh commandment (“Thou shalt not bear false witness”), and, more often, the fifth commandment (“Thou shalt not kill”). The book at times lacks subtlety, particularly in its descriptions, which sometimes verge on the clinical (“Eric stood six foot even with a rock hard frame and low percentage of body fat”). However, the book’s flowing thematic currents make it consistently intriguing, and its action provides solid entertainment and catharsis throughout.
A fun, dark horror tale.