There’s a lot of hype surrounding the release of Max Booth and Fangoria’s werewolf novel, Carnivorous Lunar Activities. Part of that is driven by the fact Booth is a vocal presence online, another part is due to the fact werewolves are fucking awesome, but the most important part of that is down to the fact Booth is a damn good writer and his novel rips. Yep, the main reason this novel is garnering praise from arsehole to breakfast is that it’s a devastatingly slick piece of work that captures all of the things that make horror so great. It’s piss-funny, it’s violent, and it’s crafted with the skill only an expert can muster.
To give you an idea of just how good Booth’s writing is in this book, his opening line is one that works on multiple levels. Most basically, the line, “Ted was thinking about killing his wife when his phone rang,” kicks things off in media res. If you’ve heard anything about Carnivorous, you probably know the premise is that a dude gets a late-night phone-call from an old friend. The dude receiving that call is Ted. Booth starting things off with that drops us right in the action and immerses us in his world.
From here, this twisted little tale doesn’t relent. Justin, the guy who made the phone-call, wants Ted to kill him. He is, apparently, a werewolf, and he thinks Ted is the perfect candidate to perform silver-bullet euthanasia. While Booth expertly shows us the relationship between Ted and Justin, he’s building tension through a series of events that are, by turns, brutal and farcical. As the plot unfolds and midnight ticks closer, the novel plays with the conflict between Justin’s insistence and Ted’s certainty that his old friend is full of shit. That means we get great banter, Justin’s werewolf origin story and time to get to know these characters in a way that builds serious momentum for the inevitable shapeshift without ever giving the reader a reason to put the book down.
Before the werewolf bomb eventually hits, Booth escalates things with a huge – and heartbreaking – reveal. This ups the ante considerably, and delivers a plot-twist that will fuck your shit up. Once the wolf is loose, the blood-soaked black humour, which is already terrifically violent, moves from Justin’s dirty house to the street. Fittingly, readers are treated to more gore, a number of tense set-pieces and an unlikely team of Van Helsings hunting Justin down with grisly determination.
Make no mistake, this novel is one that homages and honours An American Werewolf in London, but it’s one that does so in a classy and original way. That doesn’t mean it’s set in London, and there aren’t any ghosts either. Shit, there’s not even a contrived boy-meets-girl relationship. That might be because Booth would roll his eyes and sigh at such a cliché, but it’s more likely that he simply realises the best part of that movie is the relationship between David and Jack.
Instead of those two fuck-ups, Booth has Ted and Justin, and it’s the humanity inherent in their shit-talking that he employs to bolster the horror and inject real pathos into a novel that’s as piss-funny as it is savage. Throughout, his prose is tight, his humour is on-point and his dialogue is drenched in feeling and a genuine understanding of bromantic banter. You’ll want to tear through it one sitting.
If you don’t enjoy the crap out of this one, then I don’t know what’s wrong with you.
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