I have strange feelings about this book because, if I think about it, I have some issues, but I wasn’t actually bothered by them. The story, the writing, and the narration were all so good that I just really enjoyed this while I was listening.
First off, I don’t know how to classify this book. I don’t really know if this should be called fantasy or paranormal because the supernatural element was vague and somewhat open to interpretation as to whether it was really supernatural or not. But I think it was, a little bit, at least. That’s the most I can say without spoilers, so make of that what you will. It did feel vaguely horror-ish though (this coming from someone who doesn’t read horror) and had a lot of mystery and suspense and bloody violence.
Second, technically this is the second book in a series, but it works perfectly well as a standalone. I almost never skip in series, but I haven’t read the first book, and I had no problem understanding anything in this one since they have different protagonists.
And now, onto my actual thoughts!
I loved the beautiful, eloquent writing. I don’t know if people actually talked like this in the Old West, but it did have that feel I associate with old-timey writing, where sometimes words and phrases are a little longer than necessary but sound so nice.
The audio narration by Ray Chase was great. Maybe slightly dramatic, but in a way that really fit the writing and the story. He also just had a good voice. My only complaint about the audio was that different voices didn’t sound that different, but I never got confused, so it was fine.
The story was great too. This was a story about romance, about sexuality, about wendigos, about starting over, and about discovering your true self. There was the whole plot about a strange monster attacking and killing people, and the characters having to figure out what was going on and how to kill the creature. There was also a side plot about the main character, Cole, discovering his sexuality and falling for Pakim, except they both had obligations keeping them apart. The sex scenes were mostly fade-to-black, except for one, I think. I realized when I finished that Cole and Pakim didn’t actually know each other very long, and I wasn’t sure I felt the deep feelings between them, but somehow it didn’t bother me while listening. I could believe there was something between them, I could definitely feel attraction if nothing else, and, to be fair, I don’t know if Cole ever used the word love.
I also liked the characters. I don’t have much to say about them, but I did like them. Cole was an enjoyable narrator—a good person, but not perfect. Someone who didn’t particularly like or trust others but always tried to do right by them. And there was the character growth of Cold-Hearted Cole realizing maybe he’s not so cold-hearted after all.
The love interest in this book is Native American (Lenape), but I have no idea how good or accurate the representation was. What I can tell you is that there were multiple problematic/offensive words used to refer to the Native Americans, sometimes by the main characters, the context being the book is set in 1799.
So like I said, despite a few complaints, I just enjoyed this! The eloquent writing, great narration, and gripping story had me hooked and wanting to keep listening until I finished.
Anyone who likes M/M romance, the Old West, books that may or may not be supernatural, and mysterious, suspenseful, horror-ish stories.
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The winter of 1799 is falling fast on the small Ohio Territory settlement of Hugh’s Lick. Food is scarce, and relations with the Delaware tribe are strained; but things are about to get much worse. In the midst of a storm, frontiersman Cole Seavey is attacked by a creature that is neither man nor beast but something burst forth from the bowels of hell and reeking of the grave. Badly injured, he is rescued by Pakim, a young Delaware brave, and is taken to safety at the home of John Chapman, whom listeners will remember from Jensen’s best seller Frontiers. Cole’s intense attraction to Pakim leaves him longing for something he fears to even consider. He half convinces himself that the monster he battled is the product of his fevered brain. But then the killings begin, killings of such ferocity they can only be the work of something neither human nor animal. The Delaware call it the Wendigo. As the town waits in terror for the next attack, Cole, Pakim, and Chapman find themselves face-to-face with the Wendigo; it is a face they know well.
Book Author: Michael Jensen
Publisher: Alyson Books
Series: The Savage Land
Genre: Fantasy, Historical Fantasy, Horror, LGBTQIA, Paranormal/Urban Fantasy, Western
My Rating: 4
Series/Standalone: Standalone within a Series