Review of Ray Garton - Bestial
In horror movie-land sequels are pretty much a par for the course. You make a good horror film, it seems it only makes sense to go back and milk the idea a second time. In the world of horror books (note - not dark fantasy or paranormal romance, I mean HORROR) this has been less common.
I'm not saying they don't exist - Graham Masterton's Manitou and James Herbert's Rats both started series - and sure you get books set in a repeated environs - take Gary Braunbeck's Cedar Hill short stories and novels, and Stephen King's version of Maine. But straight sequels, picking up the action from the end of the prior book or soon after, haven't filled the shelves in bookstores.
I guess part of the reason for this is the rather final end that most horror books have. Zombies are destroyed, vampires staked, demons exorcised, witches burned etc, etc. Okay, Dracula can be resurrected over and over but mostly you get to the end and that's it.
Recently though this seems to be changing. L.H. Maynard and M.P.N. Sims have begun a series featuring secret British Government Department 18. Bryan Smith followed up his 2005 debut novel House of Blood with Queen of Blood, and Mary SanGiovanni followed her debut The Hollower with Found You.
Ray Garton has continued this trend in producing a sequel to his 2008 werewolf novel Ravenous, as well as an indirect sequel to earlier novels with the re-appearance of paranormal investigators Gavin Keoph and Karen Moffett. Ravenous is a good choice for a sequel. Its ending was wide open, the sheriff of Californian town Big Rock had been killed, along with the werewolf hunter and the werewolves had won!
We pick up the action with the lead werewolf, Irving Taggart, having taken over as sheriff, intent on taking total control of Big Rock. Our investigators have once again accepted an assignment from horror author and weird-stuff aficionado Martin Burgess and arrive in Big Rock to uncover the truth - unaware just what they about to walk into. Fortunately for them they have allies, as we discover that not every werewolf is happy with their transformation or with the intentions of pack leader Sheriff Taggart, and one or two of the unchanged townsfolk are finally determined to fight back.
There are some nasty bits in this book. Werewolf babies are born fast, strong and feral and very, very hungry, which leads to a rather pleasingly bloody and violent little birth-scene in a hospital ER - and it has an all-action, no-holds-barred gorefest of an ending.
But there is one aspect of this novel that is likely to upset some more than the flesh-ripping or graphic sex, and that's the author's treatment of the Seventh Day Adventist Church. Garton was raised in this church and it's plain virtually from the start he is not a fan. It's a shame really for, though the church made a good centre for some of the action, the scathing tone adopted for these sections does distract, and could cause some to avoid reading it at all.
It's not perfect. It has flaws. But the writing is strong, the horror stronger! Garton has a great knack of writing extreme horror and strong sex (often combined). I definitely want the next Garton novel.