Published by Soft Skull Press on 9.13.16
Genres: Creature Feature, Crime, Dark Fantasy, Dark Fiction, Fiction, Law & Crime, Noir, Psychological Horror, Thriller, werewolves
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Born in Missouri more than a century ago and raised in a Pentecostal orphanage, the creature now calling himself Gelson Verber has changed his name countless times. He’s part-werewolf, and makes his living hunting certain kinds of bad men—criminals, rapists, thugs—in an often grotesque parody of the natural order. Verber is clearly suffering from the kinds of things a werewolf would be uniquely vulnerable to in the modern world: the horror of war, drug abuse, and isolation in the rain-drenched environment of Portland, Oregon. He has PTSD, but in a unique way, often flashing back to his time with a regiment in World War II.
His smooth life as a serial killer takes a turn when he falls into the crosshairs of Salt Street, a development corporation running pirated criminology software and Big Data sieves to identify werewolf hybrids, who are then forced into servitude. As he falls deeper into the trap that has been set for him, his introduction to its evil architect triggers within Verber a string of recollections, conversations with the late werewolf-hybrid, John Jack Bridger. Salt Street's trap is masterful, but it does have one terrible flaw: you cannot cage someone—or some thing—like Gelson Verber.
Sometimes I like to request an Advance Review Copy based on the strength of the book description alone. Everything Under the Moon: A Novel captured my interest when the synopsis mentioned a serial killer werewolf. Yeah… so like Dexter, but a werewolf, I thought. Well, yes and no.
Gelsen Verber, (not really his name), is a fascinating character. A human/werewolf hybrid who knows nothing about where he originally came from and is suffering from PTSD from WWII. He can also cook a mean green chili stew, (and tacos!), and he likes to read. He ingests massive amounts of drugs and alcohol trying to stomp out the more wolfish effects of his nature and he also likes to prey upon society’s undesirables. He’s good at it.
Gelsen finds himself mixed up with Salt Street, a type of data mining company that knows his true nature and tries to bend him to their will. As you might have guessed, he’s having none of it. Here’s where things get difficult to describe: Gelsen is like no other werewolf that I’ve read about-except perhaps Michael Gallatin from Robert McCammon’s The Wolf’s Hour. Where Gallatin was a handsome, MacGyver-type spy in WII, Gelsen is a handsome, stylishly dressed, MacGyver/James Bond type in today’s world. He’s always prepared for any eventuality and if things get tough-he’ll just rip you apart. Done deal.
This novel was fast paced, populated with an entertaining cast of characters, (Izelle, I’m looking at you, girl.. er boy er…?), all of them fully fleshed out and three dimensional. At times I felt like the plot was a flash flood and I was struggling to keep my head above water as the current carried me towards the denouement. And then, BAM! straight into the wall of a dam. There I struggled,with my mouth hanging open like a fool, trying not to drown.
In case you can’t tell, I loved this book! Here you will discover completely unique characters; some drunk, some high, some master chefs and werewolves, but ALL entertaining. Here you will find a story that wants to bury you in its darkness at times, while at other times making you laugh so hard you can barely breathe. Here you will find an ending that takes that breath away AGAIN.
I highly recommend Everything Under the Moon to fans of horror, especially those who like their darkness peppered with humor and occasional poignancy. Oh! Also recommended to those who enjoy lots of bloody, gory, werewolf action!
Come on, you know want some.
*Thank you to Edelweiss and to Soft Skull Press for the ARC I received in exchange for my honest review. This is it.*
About Jeff Johnson
Jeff Johnson is an artist and writer at large in North America, moving freely. His gnarly blog is willfightevil4food.wordpress.com. Author of Munez, The Monterey Stories, Tattoo Machine, Tall Tales, True Stories, and My Life In Ink, Everything Under The Moon, Knottspeed, A Love Story, Lucky Supreme, A Novel of Many Crimes, and A Long Crazy Burn, Johnson has also blasted out two screenplays, Diamonds In The Sky-Cineville and The Cutting-Sternman Productions, and he’s a contributing songwriter to blues legend Lisa Mann.