Hello, I hope you’re all keeping well! I’ve been keeping myself busy still in lockdown with plenty of books. This weeks review goes to The Beast of Wheeler Ridge by Chris Stevenson. I was approached through the Contact page of my blog for this one. So it is a review request! So without much delay, read ahead for my thoughts on this book!
So The Beast of Wheeler Ridge is described as a Gritty Fantasy Thriller and is labelled with the tagline “Beauty and the Beast meets Jurassic Park. Which sounds interesting enough! It is available on amazon in kindle format, spanning 330 pages. It was released on the 10th March 2020 by Wingend Publications, so it is a very new book! And as usual I will drop the Synopsis below (taken from the books Goodreads page) for you to have a nosy at before I give my opinions.
Wolf girl gone feral…
A DNA experiment gone horribly wrong…
A beast who will stop at nothing.
Seth Anson, a lovelorn forest ranger, never thought that he would shoot the first eligible woman he met after his divorce. Nor did he think that he would fall in love with her after nursing her back to health. But he certainly isn’t prepared to find out that she is the result of a DNA cloning experiment gone horribly wrong and, is in fact, a hybrid human/wolf.
It all comes to a head atop Devils Tower Wyoming.
The Beast of Wheeler Ridge examines the lurid morality issues that are dealt with in The Island of Doctor Moreau, while exploring the theme of forbidden love as can be found in Beauty and the Beast, only with the gender rolls reversed.
Contains mild language and suggestive themes
So this book follows the story of a female, Melina who came to be, due to a very bizarre circumstances. One completely out of the norm. Her “Father” Dr Salinger creates her from a genetic bioengineering experiment that is both a success and also has negative results. The experiment produces Melina seemingly human with some k-9 wolf qualities, Pinocchio a very large, intelligent grey wolf and Romulus, something all together in-humane and dangerous. A real monster. Melina runs from the compound from which she was created and kept for most of her life to experience the world outside. Meeting Seth a volunteer ranger, she starts to experience what normal life is like and what it is to be a normal person. That is until Romulus escapes, and starts to hunt her.
If I’m completely honest, I had a lot of hopes for this book when I read the synopsis. It is a very unique take on a genre/topic that has been covered so much over time. But usually when you hear werewolf, you think a predominantly male creature, mostly animalistic howling at the moon and causing chaos. To find a take that brings us a female werewolf that has so much human characteristics, thoughts and morals is very interesting and rather brave. I believe as a story line it definitely had a lot of potential.
There were aspects of the book that I really admired. Like the details included in certain sections. The author has clearly done his research, for example, there is a section of the book where Seth and Melina are fighting a forest fire. The process of the fire fighting is very detailed and very well put together, you really get the sense that Stevenson has really thought about it and really put the work in to find out how people deal with these situations in real life. And for that I have to give the author major props.
However, there were other aspects that I didn’t all together enjoy. It could have just been me, but I didn’t really feel much depth in the character relationships and reactions to things. For example when Seth and Melina first meet, Seth seems weirdly calm about meeting what is essentially a werewolf. He seems more concerned with the fact that he shot her with a rubber bullet over the fact that what until then he thought of as a dangerous fictional character was laid out in front of him. It was the same as they grew to fall in love, there wasn’t any part in the book other than sex, which I will get to in a second where they actually seemed to bond. Seth takes her shopping and helps her groom away the hair so she looks like a normal human but other than that they don’t share much of a tangible bond. I wanted to see more between them. Maybe if the book was longer and really spent time going into deepening the relationships between characters to make them more endearing, it may have resonated a little better with me.
The second thing that really bugged me was the way the sexual scenes were narrated. I get that there is still meant to be this animalistic side to Melina, but the sexual scenes really lacked any sense of romance to me. It read more like an unfeeling narration of an adult video or book without any background, that is purely just about the physical actions. It really took away the loving aspect from their relationship and to be honest I did find parts uncomfortable to read. That said some people may be fine with it, it just wasn’t a bit of me.
All in all, I found the idea of flipping the roles to be an idea that is great and has so much potential. The amount of research and detail added into certain parts of the book was amazing and should really be celebrated. But other things as mentioned above really put me off this book. I feel like if you don’t mind things like that and you like your fantasy you’ll get on great with this book and it is worth reading. But personally, for me, it just wasn’t a bit of me. But it isn’t by any means a bad book, and I definitely would encourage people to give it a go.
Star Rating 3/5