Book Review: Moonbane by Al Sarrantonio
Book: Moonbane by Al Sarrantonio
Verdict: Surprisingly Unique, Zombie apocalypse only its werewolves, a scifi treat
Genre: horror, post apocalyptic, werewolf, sci fi
Edition: Moonbane Hardcover – June 15, 2009
Award: Winner of my ‘Sick ass moon werewolves’ award
I picked this one up about a year ago, and was fortunate that this had a reprint at all. It was one of a couple different books from Sarrantonio I wanted to grab, but the others are proving more of a challenge to find. What arrived in the mail was a nice used hardcover that was signed! So that’s pretty neat. The cover on it is pretty interesting as well, the cloudy face of a werewolf, with its eye formed by the moon.
The last werewolf book I’ve read was The Wolf Gift from Anne Rice, an underwhelming story with some interesting concepts behind it. So my expectations were low, but my hopes were that Moonbane would be as different as it was claimed to be. As it would turn out, those reviews would be right. So lets dig in!
Our poet-protagonist retells the tale from the start with the gift of hindsight, and some understandable bitterness. To summarize: things went horribly wrong on a fateful night filled with shooting stars. Shooting stars that were actually meteorites filled with dormant werewolves from the moon. His life is shattered as his son is changed and wife killed. And he is left grappling with this while hiding in his basement.
The werewolves appear to attack only at night or in the shadows. They are vicious sure, but appear to be intelligent- all working towards a mysterious goal. The roving groups give you more of a zombie story feel rather then a werewolf tale. But it feels good and makes sense. The idea of dangerous creatures roaming the land is interesting, but zombies have never seemed particularly frightening. Werewolves however, are.
After a while, our protagonist decides to go out into the world. He makes some unkind run-ins with the neighbors before finally stumbling into town where a small group of survivors hiding out. They suffer a violent night from the werewolves before escaping in a spared vehicle. It’s interesting to note that the werewolves will target electronics and machinery, destroying it intelligently though you are unsure as to how or why.
Where the story really gets good is towards the end, where our remaining friends grab some scientists at a telescope before going to hang out with NASA to shoot at the moon. When our protagonist gets bitten, they attempt to cure him and feel confident that they do. So confident in fact, than rather than checking to be sure- they send him on a shuttle to the moon.
You can brush aside some of the odd science in the book, but the one plot point that made no sense to me was why the main character got to go on the shuttle at all. “Oh, you deserve it.” Yeah sure, it would rock. But he is also a security threat, at least wait till you know he is cured? Oh well, plot and all that.
The story really gets fun when he finally does make this change. He is not mindless, though he is certainly still angry. It is a restrained anger. Through some genetic memory stuff you learn the story of the werewolves, and why they hate humans at all. Again, there’s some questionable science here, but I am more than happy to breeze past it for the fact that these are MOON werewolves and they are MAD at planet Earth.
What I lament the most is that the story essentially ends here. They complete the mission to blow up the moon, but you don’t know the fate of the remaining humans. For that matter, you don’t know what all these werewolves decided to do on Earth either.
The book isn’t long, and I was able to eat up pretty quickly. And despite being slow at the start, it really picks up to the payoff at the end. I really enjoyed it, and cant stress enough how I badly want to know what happens with this new earth. Sadly I don’t think it will ever be told, but one can dream.
Overall, an excellent divergence from the typical werewolf story with space, the moon, and angry werewolf hordes. It was highly satisfying, though not particularly scary. And the writing style was unobtrusive. If you are looking for something different, or just like werewolf stories, definitely try to find a copy of Moonbane!
Every Saturday and Sunday morning I spend about an hour or three reading. I go to a nice little independent coffee shop, the owners of which must think I am a very strange human being. I'm there pretty much from nine o'clock onwards, and I'm on first name terms with the majority of the staff.
I picked up this book last week. Short stories are one of my favourite things to indulge in. I would have sex with a short story. I'd rather not turn that into a metaphor; but I do like how you get exactly what you expect with a short story. They're often (by necessity) immediately interesting, and their endings are incomplete, blunt, or otherwise fractured. And then you move on. You don't get lost in short stories; they're not romantic, but they can sometimes leave you longing another tryst. I like it when they don't.
Anyway, there's a story I liked called 'Blood' by a guy named Roddy Doyle. It was good. If there is some place you can find it, I would recommend reading it.