KU horror novella mini reviews: all new-to-me authors!

April 25, 2023

TITLE: The Wehrwolf
AUTHOR: Alma Katsu
GENRE: Horror
PAGES: 79pg

Germany, 1945. In the waning days of World War II, the Nazis have been all but defeated. Uwe Fuchs, never a fighter, feels fortunate to have avoided the front lines as he cared for his widowed mother.

But Uwe’s fortune changes when Hans Sauer, the village bully, recruits him to join a guerilla resistance unit preparing for the arrival of Allied soldiers. At first, Uwe is wary. The war is lost, and rumor has it that Hans is a deserter. But Hans entices him with talk of power, brutality, and their village’s ancestral lore: werewolves.

With some reluctance, Uwe joins up with the pack and soon witnesses their startling transformation. But when the men’s violent rampage against enemy soldiers takes a devastatingly personal turn, Uwe must grapple not only with his role in their evil acts but with his own humanity. Can he reclaim what this group of predatory men has stolen from him? Or has he been a monster all along?

goodreads button

And the main lesson history has to teach us is that it’s easy to slip the skin of humanity and become a monster.

This was absolutely brilliant. So powerful. The layers of metaphor woven into this story were beautifully done and I felt completely transported during this short little piece. This was my first time reading Alma Katsu’s work, but it absolutely won’t be the last; in fact, it made me immediately want to read more of her books.

What a horrifying reminder of how easily, and how painfully frequently humans become monsters.

content warnings →
WARNINGS (click to expand):

Nazi rhetoric, racism, war, violence, murder, child death (vague), grief

representation →

TITLE: Viral Lives
AUTHOR: Felix I.D. Dimaro
GENRE: Horror
PAGES: 90pg

Would your loved ones still love you if your darkest secret came to light?

Simon Hinch considers himself to be a Gore Reporter. He spends late nights in bad places hoping to record violence and disorder for a fee, selling this documented distress to the highest bidder. One night, Simon stumbles upon a man, bloody and dying in the street. Knowing that the video of this man’s death will go viral on the dark web – on the gore sites – he decides to film instead of help, using his phone to capture the moment the dying man’s spirit leaves his body.

The video is a sensation, and life is good for Simon. Except, something seems to be wrong with his phone. His alarm goes off when it hasn’t been set, text messages are sent to Simon’s loved ones without him having any memory of sending them. His closely guarded secrets are suddenly at risk of being exposed.

He convinces himself that his phone is glitching, that he has been hacked. Because the alternative would be too hard for him to face. The alternative being that he didn’t just capture someone’s death on that late night, he may have captured a dead man’s soul.

goodreads button

This was my first of Dimaro’s books, but probably won’t be my last! While I wasn’t fully in love with the writing, I really enjoyed the concept of this novella and was eager to see where each twist would go next. I love horror based around technology being used against us, and this was a great example of that. While I do love a horror protagonist worth rooting for, it’s also a lot of fun to watch an awful main character finally get what’s coming to them, which is what this story feels like as we quickly realize that Simon isn’t just a desperate man in need of a paycheck, but pretty awful all the way around. If you’re looking for a fun, quick read with a lot of action and you enjoy tech-based horror like I do, I definitely recommend checking this one out!

content warnings →

gore, vehicle accidents, death, infidelity, violence, strangulation, home break-in, humiliation, misogyny, sexual harassment

representation →

TITLE: Talia
AUTHOR: Daniel J. Volpe
GENRE: Horror
PAGES: 120pg

In the early 1990s the rising popularity of the video cassette gave birth to a seedy, underground world of illicit pornography.

Talia, a Midwest dreamer, leaves home in search of fame under the blinding Broadway lights. But nothing could have prepared her for what she finds instead. Savage violence, bottomless depravity, and no way out.

Talia will unapologetically drag you into the foul underbelly of society. A sanity straining journey, full of hot bloodshed and betrayal.

goodreads button

While Talia delivers on gore and taboo, I’m not sure if it says more about me or the book that I was unfazed by even the worst of it. The writing and editing are filled with grammatical and continuity errors, and Talia’s conversion from a wide-eyed young girl to a demonic vengeance-seeker was so abrupt it made no sense at all, but the most irritating part of this reading experience was how heavily the book relied on rape and descriptions of female bodies. If I had to read one more description of Talia’s breasts or her “powder dry” hands, I was going to scream.

There’s also something to be said for the lazy offensiveness of the tall, thick-bodied European woman as a villain, or the fact that one side character, whose only personality trait was a severe cocaine dependency, was referred to as “the light-skinned one” so many times in such few pages. Truly, I could go on for a while about the depictions of women in this book.

I feel like the author was probably going for a rape revenge fantasy along the lines of I Spit On Your Grave, etc., but unfortunately, it fell flat in every possible way. The only reason I’m giving this 2 stars instead of 1 is that some of the violence was pretty imaginative, but I don’t see myself recommending this book, continuing the series, or reading anything else of Volpe’s.

content warnings →

violence, gore, murder, rape, snuff films, necrophilia, misogyny, frequent usage of “whore”

representation →

Talia is described as bisexual (though, in one scene with another woman, describes herself as “not gay” and seems baffled by women being attracted to one another); Ingrid is queer



twitter | booktok | bookstagram goodreads

More about Destiny @ Howling Libraries

Just a horror aficionado/geek girl trying to juggle motherhood, reading, blogging, gaming, and everyday life.

1 Comment

Say hello! ♥

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.