Werewolves are one of the popular ingredients for horror stories and films but there is always the challenge to do something different with them rather than rehashing what has gone before. Dan O’Brien’s Bitten explores the myth of werewolves but from a slightly different angle.
In the cold Minnesotan town of Locke some gruesome murders have begun out in the woods. Suggestions of bear attacks and wolves on two legs have the local Sheriff, Montgomery, left scratching his head. However, he has assistance in the form of FBI agent Lauren who is in town to investigate the murders and her suspicions lean towards the supernatural which Montgomery and his peers find both amusing and ludicrous. The question is can Westlake and Montgomery put aside their differences and catch the killer before it’s too late?
Lauren arrives in Locke at the outset and encounters a woman who is talking little sense. This same woman is later ambushed and killed in the woods after Lauren has left her. Bodies are severely mutilated with parts of them missing but where is the killer? Lauren has her suspicions but she has to tread carefully around Sheriff Montgomery who is initially resentful of her presence in town. Try as they might though, Westlake and Montgomery are powerless as the body count begins to rise in Locke. Add to this Lauren’s meeting with a local, Dominic, and a spot of romance being in the air and there are one or two complications.
Bitten approaches the werewolf myth in a very interesting way. It would be at the risk of ruining the plot to reveal this but let’s just say at one point Lauren meets the mysterious Hecate out in the woods and she offers both insight and riddles for Lauren to solve about who the killer is and how his reign of terror started. We get snippets from the perspective of our killer, referred to as the creature, and revealing what he does with body parts which will leave some people a little squeamish.
Although Bitten was a decent horror story I had issues with aspects of it. Lauren enters a bar at the start and sees off a challenge from a local woman, revealing our FBI agent is one tough lady. She later sees off a disgruntled husband of a murder victim in a similar tough fashion. However, she soon meets Dominic and goes from tough talking agent to giggly school girl, which I felt diminished her character. I’ve nothing against the romance in the book but this sudden change didn’t work for me. The horror itself is very gruesome and there is an interesting plot and myth about werewolves and the danger they can pose which is worth reading.
Bitten is a decent horror story but I did find issues with the main character. Tough people can be vulnerable, there’s no denying that, but I felt it was too easy for Lauren to melt once she had met Dominic. A more gradual development of their romance would have been better. The gory aspects of the novel won’t suit everyone but the horror element did work well for me.
(Book source: reviewer received a copy in exchange for a fair and honest review)