The Beast of Brenton Woods
By Jackson R. Thomas
Published by Alien Agenda Publishing, 2018
My rating: 4/5
I love a good creature feature. There’s something about a seemingly otherworldly being—something powerful, ravenous, and disconcerting—that just makes for a good antagonist. Motives aren’t always clear, but the action and intrigue are sure to be ever-present.
The Beast of Brenton Woods by Jackson R. Thomas delivers exactly that. From the first few pages, rife with fast-paced adventure and page-turning carnage, I knew I had a fun and wild ride in my hands. To quickly summarize, this story follows a group of small town folk, connected by their relationship to the white wolf of Brenton Woods. The legend of the white wolf swirled throughout the town’s past comes quickly to the forefront as the mystery of the creature is unwound from multiple perspectives, coming together in a brutal and bloody fashion.
For a long time, I had thought I was done with stories about werewolves and vampires after fatigue with these particular creatures made itself known in my viewing and reading habits. But, when I saw the cover for The Beast of Brenton Woods and read the synopsis, I hoped I could find what I used to love about the werewolf mythos. While I enjoy stories that humanize the werewolf, making readers sympathize with the duality of the character, Thomas created a wolf that breeds no sympathy, a take a quite enjoyed. The wolf of Brenton Woods is purebred evil, creating for a violent story that saves emotional beats for the victims of the wolf and those touched by the legend.
Thomas’ writing is straightforward throughout this novel. He paints clear pictures of the savagery commanded by both man and beast. The dialogue is honest (albeit a bit harsh at times) and feels natural to the setting of the book and the characters involved. I personally enjoyed the pacing of this book—there was little fluff to the chapters, providing quick story beats that kept me flipping pages in the classic “just one more chapter” fashion.
This unrestrained evil lends itself well to a quick, exciting read, yet does not sacrifice character development. I found several of the characters in this story to be likeable, relatable on some level, to bring you to root for the characters in their struggle with the beast. Yet, there were characters that showcased the evil non-beast humans are capable of as well. Truly despicable characters live on the pages of this story, providing a depth of relationships contributing to the legend haunting the small town, which helped to pique and maintain my interest throughout the story. Speaking of despicable characters be forewarned: this is an extremely violent story, not just in the way people are torn apart physically, but also in ways that include strong language and sexual assault. There were scenes in this book that were difficult to get through because of heavy content, but worthwhile in how things came together in the climax of the story.
There wasn’t much I didn’t enjoy about this story. There were interesting twists in the plot and chapters churned action with breakneck speed. I wish some of the characters had a bit more depth to them, particularly the female characters. I felt the deputy, for example, had potential to be more interesting, standing on her own. However, I also recognize that this book seemed to be more about character relationships with each other and the legend of the white wolf, so it did not feel like it hurt the story too much in this regard.
Overall, The Beast of Brenton Woods is an exciting debut novel from Thomas, an author I’ll be sure to follow in his future endeavors.
(Disclaimer: Review copy received from publisher. Thank you!)