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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Bitten by Dan O'Brien -Review

My synopsis of BITTEN by Dan O'Brien: 

Lauren Westlake, an F.B.I. agent, arrives in a small Minnesota town after opening a cold case file. A killer is on the loose. But Lauren and the local police department must figure out if their killer is human, animal, or…other?

First, the downfalls: 

O’Brien seems to stumble into the stereotypical trap that a woman only has something negative to think upon meeting another woman. This immediately left me questioning the believability of the main heroine, Lauren. As an F.B.I. agent, wouldn’t she notice deeper traits or have gut feelings rather than allow herself to get sidetracked by someone’s heavy makeup or hot-pants? Now, while I kept a sense of humor about it -and could have easily created a drinking game out of it- I can’t help but comment that it is mathematically impossible to have that many hussies and harlots in one small town.

(Although, to be honest, I’ve never been to Minnesota.) 

Also, O’Brien repeats information a lot more than is comfortable. Characters should be used to relay information to the reader. However, I found myself reading the same conversation, only between different characters. Or Lauren would think something and then turn right around and say those exact thoughts to another character. Then why, as the reader, did I need to know she was thinking them right before she said them? (Now, having read that, pretend you have to listen to me tell someone else the exact same thing. Redundant.) O’Brien needs to give his readers more credit to connect the dots. I can do it. I had my mental pencil ready to go and everything.

Now, the goodies:

While there were a few downsides to O’Brien’s work, there were numerous positives and unexpected treats. I was immediately intrigued by his beautiful way with words and wintry landscape. I hate to be cold (I despise it, actually), but he made me long for thigh-high snow and icy tree branches snapping in the darkness as I read. Every major event became a vivid portrait. The atmosphere is cozy yet alarming. It is reminiscent, at times, of the campy early nineties television show ‘Twin Peaks’, as well as ‘Wolf Lake’, a show that focused on small town mysteries and dark werewolf secrets.

O’Brien especially delivers the “cringe” factor. Pushing the reader in all the right ways, the extra bits of gore are definitely appreciated. If a body has been disemboweled, I want to see it go the distance. And O’Brien does just that.     

What really stands out, however, is O’Brien’s incredibly unique and macabre twist on the traditional werewolf story. Through a series of run-ins with key individuals, the main character learns that not one, but two individuals are responsible for the bodies littering the frigid woods. I cannot add more for fear of spoiling it for others. And I would hate to do that.

Bottom line:

Dan O’Brien’s BITTEN adds a fresh twist to the traditional werewolf story. A great read for any horror or supernatural fans. And the ending totally hooked me into the sequel. So get to it, O’Brien. I want more.

(This review is posted at Fantasy Book Review http://www.fantasybookreview.co.uk/blog/2012/01/16/bitten-by-dan-obrien-reviewed/. Check out the site if your brain hungers for more knowledge concerning literature.)