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Chuck Wendig
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Charles L. Grant

The Universe of Horror Volume 2: The Dark Cry of the Moon

The Universe of Horror Volume 2: The Dark Cry of the Moon - Charles L. Grant Like The Soft Whisper of the Dead, The Dark Cry of the Moon doesn't bring anything new to the werewolf tale we all know, but Grant isn't trying to break new ground here. He's taking the classic werewolf tale -- mysterious deaths, howling wolves, servants from the old country who know what's happening but won't tell the new world people about it until they've hemmed and hawed and dropped hints about it for about half of the story -- and dropping it into his town of Oxrun Station in the 1800s. But his retelling is a good one, thanks in part to his skills at characterization and atmosphere.

I think the reason this book and The Soft Whisper of the Dead appeal to me more than Grant's other novels is because he steps away from having a singular point of view in the novel, and brings in multiple characters with whom we interact. Previously, he established his point-of-view character at the start of the book and never veered from that viewpoint; in these last two books, he allows other characters to offer their perspectives. It allows for different responses to the same events, and since horror is about coming face-to-face with the things that scare us, we get more exposure to such things.

The heart of any werewolf story is "Who is it?", and Grant does an admirable job of carrying out that thread. There's more than one person to suspect of being the werewolf, but Grant throws in enough red herrings to keep you guessing. I was somewhat disappointed to see that I had guessed who the werewolf really was, since the prime suspects seemed far too obvious, and it wasn't hard to trace through the rest of the events to figure out who the werewolf was. (It probably doesn't hurt that I have about 30 games of Werewolf under my belt, too.)

I was surprised to see that this novel actually takes place before The Soft Whisper of the Dead. I'm not sure why Grant chose to take a step backward in time in this case (all of the other Oxrun Station books were written and published in chronological order), but it was fun seeing Grant go in the other direction for a change. If nothing else, it was neat to see Lucas Stockton when he first became Chief of Police.

I liked this book as well as I did The Soft Whisper of the Dead. It ended a bit more abruptly, which I've somewhat grown to expect, but it also ended with the appropriate touch of dread, of knowing that the evil might still lurk in the town of Oxrun Dead, biding its time to reveal itself once again. I'm looking forward to seeing how The Long Night of the Grave will wrap up this series of books.