The Original's Return - by David Watkins
I read The Devil’s Inn from Watkins this year and was excited to start The Original’s return based on the writing from that previous read. Watkins’ detailed descriptions of gore and violence are stylistically what I love in Horror – clean, unemotional, and sudden. I love the shock value such descriptions arouse in the reader's minds. Dan Soule employs the same approach, there’s just nothing like that cold narration of trauma to bring it home. Which leads me to The Original’s return.
That sudden gore comes here, and every time the method is employed it is a smack to the reader’s senses. Watkins uses it from the get-go – but allows a slower build to the whole book. The initial accident in his opening chapters is punctuated by the realization that something catastrophic has happened, and that first smack to the face lets you know you’re in for a ride.
I didn’t know what the novel was about when I started reading it, I had a vague idea it was werewolves – but couldn’t tell you why? Perhaps I heard someone talking about it, perhaps Dave himself mentioned it when I bumped into him at Chillercon – whatever the case, this quickly turns into a book that at the very least hints at werewolf activity, so I don’t think I’m letting any spoilers out of the bag by mentioning the theme here. That the MC becomes one is due, however, to something other than a werewolf bite.
So, if we accept that, contrary to werewolf lore (which is all made up, obviously), one can become a werewolf through contamination of the body of the victim through trauma sustained by entry (into the body) of werewolf bones (and the micro-organisms that might still be present on and in those decaying bones), there’s still enough in here to deviate from a standard werewolf book to be interesting, and what’s more, exhilarating. Dave brings in a team of army specialists to observe the subject, and with that, a home invasion, and a pregnant wife, and suddenly it goes very territorial. Which is excellent, of course.
The build here is great, Watkins takes his time to build the environment, before letting rip with the effects. New to me, was the idea that the transformation didn’t hurt. That did jar a little, but presented here as just another element of the whole, it fits.
There are holes here, information withheld or overlooked – the fine details of the transformation and original turning left blank – there are questions I’ll be wanting answering in the sequel (and I checked, there is a sequel) – the sudden healing from the original wound? Wouldn’t an adaptation of those abilities require time? But I’m going to be buying the next book because this was a great ride, and from the reviews I scanned of the next installment, the body count and gore rise, as they should.
All in all, I had a great time in this book, it gets 5 out of 5 ⭐ ‘s.
Read you soon, David.