As you might have gathered from previous blog posts, I really loved the free-verse narrative of Toby Barlow’s award winning “Sharp Teeth.” (Thank you, Super Smart Art Girl, for lending it to me.)
This isn’t exactly a werewolf novel. Am I a horror-hound-pedant if I point out that the monsters depicted are … weredogs? (I actually do get annoyed when Internet commentators get too upset when the infected from “28 Days Later” are referred to as “zombies.” Big deal.)
This is a great horror read, whether you enjoy poetry or not. Barlow does something both creative and effective — he employs poetry to perfectly capture the fluid, stream-of-consciousness thought processes of his characters. It works. Think about it — do we think in complete sentences, or are thoughts more like images, phrases and feelings?
And it’s a first-rate horror yarn. We’ve got packs of weredogs vying for control, both within their own ranks and throughout Los Angeles’ crime scene.
Barlow does a great job juggling multiple points of view, and crafting a really decent horror story. The most ambitious plan concocted by a weredog alpha is actually pretty scary. So, too, is a She-dog’s intimidation of a former oppressor.
Casting the main human protagonist as dogcatcher (really!) was darkly humorous. We even have a satisfying, if brief, explanation for the monsters’ origins that totally works.
And the best part of the book is … a little hard for me to describe. Barlow seems to perfectly capture the clanlike or packlike mentality of the weredog villains and anti-heroes. You actually can feel for them, because he captures their feelings and point of view so capably.
The poetry itself is often quite beautiful.
This is a great read that I cheerfully recommend.