Blood and Rain by Glenn Rolfe
Oh gory horror novels, how I love you but am so picky about which ones of your lot I read. The jump scares, the mysteries, the blood, the massive body counts…more, please. That said, I hate some of the character tropes in horror. Often, the characters feel unoriginal and under-developed. Blood and Rain has the good–the gore, the slick pace, the scares–but also the bad–thin characters that never develop beyond cannon fodder. The main reason to read this book is because it has that old-school werewolf horror feel ala Silver Bullet and The Howling.
The story starts in 1997 when Stan sneaks out of a mental asylum. The story pulls no punches and waits no time in giving us the first transformation, which is the bread-and-butter of werewolf books. Stan changes and runs off to murder people in his old hometown. So far, so awesome.
We fast forward to whenever Spiderman 2 came out (seriously, I forget the year, but that movie gets mentioned over and over again). The town of Gilson Creek has been quiet until the Full Moon Monster returns one fateful night, murdering several people. Old horrors are recalled, and each of the citizens remembers the traumas of years past. Sheriff Joe thought he killed the previous werewolf, but he now realizes he failed, and it came back to life, rising from the grave. The Sheriff pretends to ignore Nick Bruce and the other conspiracy theorists that come and want to expose the Full Moon Monster, but the Sheriff believes. He has to.
The best part about this story is that it introduces both werewolves–yes, there are totally two–early in the novel. We know the first werewolf is Stan, and on his first recent attack, he bites Nick, the young conspiracy theorist. Nick slowly descends into his own version of madness over the course of the month while everyone else is preparing to fight the (presumably single) werewolf. Stan, too, doubles down on his monstrous side, which he refuses to keep in check any longer. Sheriff Joe and his daughter, Sonya, are given a lot of story time. Blissfully unaware of the monsters, Sonya is a boring character. She also becomes a ridiculous damsel in distress later in the story, solely there for the B-movie scream moments. *sigh* I could’ve done with at least one competent female character in the story. Part of it is that both werewolf characters get more than a little creepy with the women and girls they encounter, and yes, they’re the monsters, but the ‘good’ characters are too thin personality wise (except for the Sherriff) to provide a solid balance to the werewolf creepiness. We get a lot of ‘got to protect the womenz’ from Sheriff Joe, which got very annoying, very fast. I can’t even go into what I thought of Mel. Could I have liked her? Sure, but she is literally described by ALL THE CHARACTERS as having good tits. That’s what passes for female personality here. *sigh*
The other members of the conspiracy theorist magazine, the residents of Gilson Creek, and Sonya’s friends are kind of boring. Fortunately, the story flips through these characters so fast (or I just wanted to cycle back to the better characters) that I didn’t mind that there were so many. The members of the sheriff’s department are easier to tell apart and have some personality, but no one survives this story. Don’t get attached. Other than maybe towards Sonya, this story doesn’t have a single sentimental bone, which is fine. The fast, slick action sequences and lovingly described murder scenes make up for what’s lacking with the characters. Who cares, really, when they’re all going to literally die? I did feel bad about the Sally and Randy dying, though, because I believed the comradery among the police officers.
This story doesn’t really cover any new ground in terms of playing with horror tropes. It just does the old ones so well that it scratches an itch perfectly. Don’t read this if you want any kind of HEA or uplifting, snuggly feelings at the end (this book is more along those lines). Or hope at all. The title says it all–BLOOD. Read this story for the slasher scenes and all the blood.
Rating: 4 stars. A classic werewolf story. AND BLOOD. But also some stupid horror tropes. BUT SO MUCH BLOOD.