Elizabeth Einspanier requested that I read and review her weird (i.e. fantasy/horror) western story "Hungry as a Wolf". I have already reviewed the previous book, "Sheep's Clothing" and rated it highly. You can read that review here. I will assign plot, character and polish, and then assign a grade.
This book is written from the 3rd person perspective. This is a change from the first book, which was 1st person, and so provides a different reading experience. I like them both but this method is my preference.
Here, Crowie Wolf has been hired by the owner of a mine to investigate the disappearance of the staff in the mine and whether or not it is connected to the mysterious disease that has come to the town. He is joined by locals like the sheriff and (unwillingly) by his employer's daughter.
I would liken this book to a mystery because it starts with Wolf investigating. He learns about the mine from letters sent by the people working there, he talks to the locals about the deaths, and then uses his extensive knowledge of the human and supernatural to create a working explanation of the problem.
I like the continuity nods. Wolf's sidekick from the previous book, Dr. Nathaniel Meadows, is mentioned by him and others a couple times, and Wolf's new demon horse used to belong to the villain of "Sheep's Clothing".
The romantic subplot feels just a little off to me because of how it starts. It's a Naked First Impression, which is typically a comedy or lighthearted story thing. This story is neither comedic nor lighthearted. Wolf's thoughts immediately afterward are unusually genre aware. This tiny genre shift is jarring. The rest is better.
I'd say the climax falls a little flat but only because the previous event overshadows it. That particular event feels more climactic and holds more plot threads, so the climax itself feels more like tying up loose ends.
The ending is good. It resolves the main conflict while segueing into new adventures and a new conflict. It's like a shifting of weight. It's a deft handling of plot threads.
This book does much to expand on Wolf's personality. "Sheep's Clothing", being a first person narrative by someone else, presented him as this grizzled and stoic frontier hunter. Here we see more sides of him, such as the true extent of his sorrow from the loss of his first love and also his social awkwardness. I wouldn't have called him "adorkable" in the first book, but here? Definitely.
Susannah is Wolf's love interest in this story. On Tvtropes, we would call her a Spirited Young Lady. Generally well bred and well mannered but also possessing a good deal of attitude and adventurous spirit. She joins the team of heroes by eavesdropping and hiding herself in their supplies. She does this to find her brother, who worked at the mine; an admirable trait. She also knows her way around a gun, and can stay as calm as any civilian would in a shoot out with zombies.
The villain of this piece makes few appearances. The first half of the book's plot is driven by the mystery and its conflict is split between Wolf's personal problems and a jerkass named MacReady who is prejudiced against Wolf for being half Native American. When Wolf encounters the villain of this piece, it plays out in a As Long As There Is Evil sort of way that reflects the troubled relationship between the Native Americans and the Europeans of the time.
It looks good.I didn't see any problems with spelling or grammar. I'm impressed with anyone who gives their characters dialects and make it consistent.
Trickster Eric Novels gives "Hungry as a Wolf" a B+
This has been a free review request. I received nothing in exchange for it but a free copy of the review.
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