TITLE: Wolf Land
AUTHOR: Jonathan Janz
RELEASE DATE: March 14th, 2019
AGE RANGE: Adult
High school reunions are bad enough on their own, but what really takes the cake is having a bloodthirsty werewolf show up to kill several of your old friends. Now, Duane and Savannah are scrambling to find shelter as their former classmates rapidly succumb to their newfound primal urges.
If there’s one theme in horror that I don’t reach for often at all, it’s the classic werewolf story. Even as a kid, werewolves just never frightened me much, and it’s always been hard for me to find werewolf plots that intrigued me much. That said, when I saw that Wolf Land was being re-released, I couldn’t pass it up, if only because I’m so fond of Jonathan’s writing in general.
“You are wayward lambs.”
In a turn of events that surprises literally no one, I enjoyed this tremendously (enough so that I flew through it in less than 24 hours because I couldn’t put it down!). My friends, this is what werewolf horror is supposed to feel like: gruesome, bloody, dark, angry, messy, and downright terrifying.
And when I say “gruesome” and “dark”, let me make this very clear: this book is dark as hell. I knew Jonathan was capable of writing some tremendously violent, sickening scenes, and I knew he had warned readers that this was his darkest work yet, but none of that prepared me for what I found in these pages. Wolf Land is nonstop action and bloodshed that, were it adapted into a film (and it totally should be), it would more than likely be one of those rare releases to get hyped as having made poor, unsuspecting moviegoers rush from the theatre puking and/or weeping.
Of course, it’s not all blood and guts; as always, Jonathan is incredible at character development. As always, there are villains that leave you frantically awaiting their karmic fates, but there are also unlikely heroes at every turn, and I had so much fun rooting for them. What may have been my favorite part was the way this book tackles misogyny: it’s subtle enough not to beat you over the head, but damn, is Jonathan good at making a point. There’s a classic “nice guy” character who has to learn that, despite his best intentions, he’s still missing the point in a few places; there’s a woman who’s endlessly shamed by her supposed friends, but we learn has been through hell worse than anyone imagined; the list goes on with roles played out by women who are so much more complex than they appear on the surface (and at the end of the day, it’s the ladies who get to kick the most ass, which I’m always here for).
Mingled in with the terror, the gore, and the subtle, brilliantly executed social commentary, there’s everything I expect from Jonathan’s writing: laughs, an occasional perfectly-placed pop culture reference, layers of world-building begging to be further explored, and at least one really adorable, precious kiddo (because what would a Janz title be without me internally panicking over the outcome of a child or two for at least half the book?). Seriously, though: A+, all the gold stars, another successful Jonathan Janz title.
Content warnings for very explicit violence, murder, sexual assault, child death, mentions of pedophilia, sexism, and a little more gore for good measure.