February 23, 2016 at 6:00 pm (Reads) (, , , )

deathMoondeath by Rick Hautala


Rick Hautala is another writer I remember from my horror days, and after I gave up on Richard Laymon last week, I figured I would move on to Hautala. I remember liking him a bit more than the other authors, and I distinctly remember how he managed to frighten me with something as innocuous as a croquet mallet in Dark Silence, so I figured I should give him another shot. I’ve read Moondeath before, but I figured where else should I start revisiting the author but at the start?

The cover and the title of the book tell you everything you need to know about the story — werewolves! Werewolf fiction, in general, doesn’t do much for me. They tend to follow the same general structure, where the bulk of the story is in determining who it is. Hautala does manage to avoid that being the heart of the story (most of the people in the town don’t believe in werewolves, and it’s pretty clear from early in the story who it is), but it was still just outside my interest level to keep me fully engaged. Neither did I feel like I was going to give up on the novel, though.

Hautala’s style is clean and crisp, but he has a habit of having his characters stutter and trip over words when they get nervous. I have mixed feelings about it. On the one hand, it captures their anxious state of mind without having to tell us they’re anxious, but on the other hand, I would sometimes get stuck on thinking it was a typo in the book (which, I should note, had several). I never quite got used to that part of his style.

The novel also feels too long. The first and second acts move along at a pace that makes sense, but the third act gets drawn out by a lot of incidental details. I wasn’t sure why Bob, the main character, moved to Florida right in the midst of the attacks. I mean, Hautala set up a good enough reason, so it didn’t just come out of left field, but I didn’t understand why it was necessary to have that part in the story. Plus, there sure were a lot of people in the town who just disliked Bob right from the start. It reminds me of that old adage: If you run into one jerk a day, that person was probably a jerk, but if you run into several, maybe it’s you who’s the jerk.

In the end, Bob isn’t a very sympathetic character. For much of the novel he’s the only one in town who believes that a werewolf is the cause of the problem, so he’s definitely the protagonist, but his behavior doesn’t make us want to like him that much. I’ve seen some reviews that praise Hautala’s characterization, and while I think it works well enough, it didn’t strike me as noteworthy. There’s only one significant female character, and she’s not developed much outside of being Bob’s love interest. Still, this was Hautala’s first novel, so I’m willing to let some shortcomings go.

Moondeath is actually reminiscent of Richard Laymon, even though the authors were writing at about the same time. It has the same sort of style, and even has a similar style of characterization. The obsession with sex is absent (which is not to say it’s a chaste book, but it’s not a main focus like it was in Laymon’s fiction), but there’s a bit of a sexist overtone to how the female characters are portrayed. On the bright side, I don’t see anything as overtly misogynistic as I did in Laymon’s books.

Interestingly, I’ve seen a number of reviews and descriptions of the book that refer to the small town of Coon Falls, but in the edition I read (the e-book version of the Evil Jester printing), the town is called Cooper Falls. I don’t have a problem with the change (the reason for it seems fairly obvious), but it struck me as notable.

Moondeath is an okay novel, but then again, it’s also the author’s first novel. Because it’s a first novel, and because Hautala does manage to capture the fear of his characters, I’m not quite ready to give up on the author. This was another re-read for me, and like my other horror re-reads, I didn’t remember much detail about it. That scene from Dark Silence that I mentioned above, though, will keep me reading.

Unfortunate Musical Connection: “Moonchild” by Iron Maiden


1 Comment

  1. mustaliblog said,

    Quite interesting! Only if the was within easy reach, I could obtain obtain it

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