The Unwanted Guests

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2Stars

I purchased this short story with high hopes. This being Werewolf horror I went in expecting to be thrilled and excited with tension. I actually read it really fast and didn’t know what to make of it. Then just to see if maybe I was in a bad state of mind I reread it, tried. I gave up at fifty percent. So, for purposes of review, this book got three reads out of me cause I have to read, scan through it as I type my reviews. It’s safe to say I didn’t enjoy this.

I had issues with the plot. In no particular order, but when someone hurts their ankle and the blood attracts a wolf which shows up and… just keeps on going. This was odd. If a vampire was drawn by the scent of blood it wouldn’t just walk up to a human and then sprout stuff about fresh blood and disappear without a fight. A wolf hunting its prey wouldn’t just go about its business either. Then there was a scene where someone sees beady eyes through a window and then exits the bedroom and runs frantically down the hall, but somehow the eyes are following him. Most halls, especially ones connected to bedrooms, are indoors. It took me a minute to realise the wolf had not entered the house and started chasing him which then makes it more confusing. Is he seeing the eyes in his mind? Are there windows lining the non-bedroom side of the hall? Then, apparently, he’s not dead and being called by the wolves. So the wolf did enter and bite him? How is he becoming part of the pack now? More importantly, again, how are the wolves quite literally in the house to get him and they are stronger than humans and none of them tries at all to go up from the basement and attack the humans?

Maybe I’m just easily triggered but the moment I saw the name Lupin everything in me screamed please let him be human. He, of course, was a wolf. Sigh. It didn’t end there, the name Dean, Luna, Locke which made me think of Lockhart and Edward all make an appearance. So we have a werewolf story with a wolf named after Rowling’s wolf from HP3 and then a host of characters with HP names. It was hard to miss but, to be fair, if Lupin were named Jason or something else my mind would not have already associated this with another famous work and might not have seen these connections. As it was, naming a werewolf with the name of an already famous werewolf seemed odd.

There was a scene where Lupin grabs a book and Edward shouts don’t do it. Don’t do what? Is the book important? What’s in the book? Why is he so agitated? What is going on? It’s not brought back again. I reread that one paragraph so many times. I still don’t know what it’s about. And since it’s never brought back into the plot, I guess I never will.

One more plot thing happened after the whole wolf not attacking two unarmed people in the middle of the night after specifically being drawn by blood. The next day, knowing there’s a wolf, specifically pack if Edward is to be believed, you not only still go out for a hike but then suggest the crew split up. Everyone didn’t even want to go so it would’ve been stupid-easy not to.

As far as character development goes when the injured party confronts Edward there’s no confrontation. Something to the effect of wanting her to go out after what happened last night and that he didn’t tell the others about it and she storms off to get ready. Sigh. Doesn’t threaten not to go. Doesn’t ask what precautions he will take to ensure it doesn’t happen during the daytime. Doesn’t ask if he’s dealt with this before. All of which would’ve forced him to reassure her that he had everything under control thus creating a really good chance for character development. This is pretty much the same with most of the character interactions. Just like the incident with the mysterious book, even by B-horror movie standards there is a lack of information to make it all gel together, and it also isn’t camp enough to fall into over-the-top horror material cliches.

I don’t even know if the anonymous poetry stuff was resolved. If that person was seeing the wolves themselves, and if so, why are they writing in prose and not just sending helpful emails?

The death scenes were fun to read. Like way fun. But they seemed to just happen. I came into this expecting those things to happen to the cast as the story progressed. That they would get picked off one by one and since the story is called unwanted guests, they would end up being held up in the mansion on the defence from an invading force.

The moment I knew things were a bit off is when blood was found early on in the book and instead of calling the police, they decided to go to bed and call in the morning. Maybe I watch too much crime television but waiting an entire night is the easiest way for evidence of foul play to just up and disappear. I found it odd a serious argument didn’t break out about how little sense this made.

The thing about this book, if you just add up what I’ve already said, bearing in mind it’s the first half of the book and there is still a good bit I haven’t mentioned in this half, is that stuff just happens. There isn’t some sort of thread connecting all the things happening. Something just happened. Then the next thing happened. And another, and I spent a lot of time wondering why certain things could be important to the plot, or why characters said this, or did that and expecting the answers on the next page. Instead what I got was another thing that happened. So unlike with most horrors or suspense mysteries, or thrillers that have a singular line pulling all the things together this novel read to me like it was missing the glue/information that tied all the things together and then the character’s responses, or lack thereof, to things was awkward compiling on top of this.

Maybe I’m just weird but things should connect, especially in suspenseful art. The lack of real flow made this a hard read. And, this is non-review related, but I finished this book weeks ago and legit have had anxiety about writing this review. It has nothing but glowing responses and I’m fairly easy to find online and I just didn’t want to be the guy who came and said this book just wasn’t amazing in my opinion. But it really read like the author had a bunch of good ideas but didn’t consider how to join them together so I struggled reading it and couldn’t get past half the second time and can’t even really remember the second half from the first read.

This book was a miss for me and the whole point of getting them together to celebrate a book release was dropped. I don’t really remember anyone talking about it. As far as recommending it, based on other reviews I’m going to say there’s nothing to lose for reading it. Assuming everyone writes honest reviews there’s a chance I’m overreacting and everyone will like it. But for me, the lack of an obvious plot threading the scenes together, and the characters awkward reactions to the situations surrounding them just didn’t do it for me.

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