Friday, October 24, 2008
Reviewing: "Night Wolf's Song" by E. Floyd Phelps
I first met E. Floyd Phelps at the Hardboiled Heroes and Cozy Cats conference last June in Dallas. It was my second year in attendance and while a number of old friends had talked to me, Mr. Phelps was new to me. Once he found out I was a reviewer and was open to self published authors, he asked if I would review his horror novel. Horror is the one genre I won't read, but, as we talked about the book, it seemed more and more to me that it was possible really a book of suspense. With the understanding that if I found it too gruesome and had to quit, I took a copy home with me.
That was quite a few months ago. Having finally read the book, I do think it is mis-marketed as a horror novel. Instead, I would refer to it more as a novel of suspense. And, overall, it is a pretty good one.
Solita Obregon is on the run from a violent robbery and horrible life in Mexico and trying to get across the border into the Untied States. With little more than a name of a possible contact she heads for the border. She soon joins a group that plans to cross illegally into Texas. Presidio County, in deep southwestern Texas, and the surrounding counties are some of the harshest desert known to humans. The small group will have to deal with brutal desert conditions with little in terms of supplies. They will also have to deal with treachery within the small group.
They will also have to deal with the attacks by a "Nahuala" or werewolf like creature. When the moon is full, the creature roams the harsh Texas desert stalking and killing anything that moves. As the numbers of the group slowly shrink for a variety of reasons, Solita does everything she can to survive.
While this novel does need the assistance of a strong editor primarily in terms of continuity, pacing and word choice, the basic core story is a good one. Author E. Floyd Phelps has created an interesting novel full of strong characters. Characters, both in terms of main and secondary, that are clearly portrayed in all aspects and very much real to the reader.
The history of Texas in something ingrained in every native. That history is a major part of this novel where history and a familial legacy play a major role. Those excursions into history do slow the read somewhat, but at the same time, enhance the read and give depth to the story. A story that has depth and interesting characters and also does meander off onto shifting points of view tangents from time to time that do little to advance the main or secondary plotlines.
Clearly the "Nahuala" or werewolf like creature is the horror aspect of the work. It transforms when the moon is full like all werewolves do. Through its eyes, the reader is brought into the primitive brain as it goes on the hunt. The creature is violent and does frequently attack humans in a savage matter. However, while the attacks could be gruesome, the descriptions are not gratuitous or excessive. In fact, they seem rather tame especially as compared to what many mystery writers will write and describe done by some deranged serial killer.
The result is a good tale though a bit uneven in spots. Despite the various issues noted above, the book is a good one that captures the reader's interest and is well worth the read.
Night Wolf's Song
E. Floyd Phelps
Large Trade Paperback
Review copy provided directly by the author in exchange for my objective review.
Kevin R. Tipple © 2008