"Everything Howls" Book Review
Written by Christopher Lopez
2011, 155 pages, Fiction
Released on March 1st, 2011
In order to tell a good story, those in the horror genre sometimes forget that character development is as important as the scary elements. Author Christopher Lopez fully understands that making readers care about the characters automatically amplifies the significance of whatever they have to go through in the eyes of the reader. In Everything Howls, Lopez's debut novel, superb character development is balanced out with a fresh spin on a legendary beast to create a very entertaining read.
In Everything Howls, a strong early winter storm covers the small town of Keme with snow. Instead of the calm day at home that many folks expected as a result of the storm, a series of gruesome murders sends the town's sheriff, Aaron Bishop, into a nightmarish world of beheaded victims, snow painted red by blood and disappeared citizens. The bodies are examined by Julie Stevens, Keme's doctor and Bishop's sister-in-law. What she finds can't be explained and the killer the sheriff and his deputy Jeff will be looking for might be of this realm. As the bodies continue to pile and Bishop struggles to make sense of the horror that has taken over his town, an old Algonquin Indian who lived through the same experience many years before shows up and explains what he knows. The crazy legend the Indian shares is hard to believe, but the victims and the marks left on their bodies match perfectly with what the man says. In the end, the only way to ensure the safety of the township seems to be with even more blood.
The residents of Keme, especially Bishop, Jeff and Julie, are good people. The authorities are more used to getting cats down from trees than to dealing with murders. When they are faced with this level of violence and gore, their thoughts turn to one another and ensuring everyone's safety becomes their main concern. This gives the story an emotional dimension that can't be ignored. The reader will care for these folks, thus turning the howling beast in the snow into more than a monster. Also, these people are not hardened NYPD detectives or alcoholic LAPD coroners who have seen it all, so when they come face-to-face with the eviscerated bodies, their reaction intensifies the horror.
To be brutally honest, I have a weakness for stories dealing with the Wendigo, that creature from the mythology of the Algonquian people who comes with the snow and can possess and kill at an alarming rate. However, many mediocre things have been done both in literature and film in the name of this creature. Everything Howls brings the Wendigo back with a vengeance, places it in its classic habitat and adds an Algonquin Indian to the mix in a way that makes the story ring true. The effect is a short, entertaining novel that fully engages reader. It's also a solid debut for Lopez and proves that, with talent and originality, even classic beasts can be given new life.