Tuesday 12 May 2015

REVIEW: John Vamvas and Olga Montes - Wherewolves

Genre: Fantasy / Paranormal
Publisher: ---
Publication Date: 17th Feb 2013
Pages: 210


A copy of Wherewolves was sent to Confessions of a Reviewer by the authors John Vamvas and Olga Montes in exchange for an honest review. This is said review.

Again, never heard of John Vamvas or Olga Montes. They took a gamble and sent me a copy of their book for review. I took a gamble and read it. Did the gamble pay off?

A group of high school seniors are on a weekend camping trip organised by their (ex-army) school teacher. They are all kids of military personnel. A lot of them have an unpleasant history. Some it as a direct result of their teacher’s actions during a campaign. The two misfits of the class Jeffrey and Doris really don’t want to go. They fear that the rest of the class may cause them harm on the trip.

Once there, the teacher abandons them, leaving them to fend for themselves as a character building exercise. Or is that really his intentions? What are those weird animal growls they can here? Can there really be werewolves out here? What follows is a confused and bloody battle for survival. Will anyone make it?
This is a strange one. I hadn’t read up on anything to do with the story before picking it up to read. It might have explained a few things if I had.

When you start to read this story the first thing you will notice is that the narrative isn’t exactly orthodox. It reads almost like a manuscript for a film. Some of the narrative between dialogue sounds more like instructions rather than free flowing words to describe the surroundings and what is actually happening to the kids. You can imagine a group of actors sitting around a table discussing the script before shooting begins. It turns out that is exactly what it is. This was originally written as a screenplay and then turned into a novel. Sometimes, rather annoyingly, it reads like the dialogue was added to the screenplay without any further amendment.

The book starts at 100mph. The first ten percent is a fast flowing chase with two people fighting for their lives to get away from an unseen evil, hell bent on ripping them to pieces. The next seventy percent is spent going through the lives of the school kids and getting them ready for the trip. It’s not until eighty percent through the story that it takes off again and leaves you pretty breathless with a rip roaring race to the finish. If the whole book had been like the first ten and the last twenty percent, I think I would have enjoyed it a lot more.

The characters are a miss match of different personalities. In many respects it mirrors a typical high school class. The jocks, the cheerleaders, the misfits and the in betweens. There are the fights, the flirts and the general unhappiness at being thrown together for a weekend away. Jeffrey and Doris are the misfits. They don’t want to go and no one wants them to go. The class bullies are intent on making it hell for them.

Once they get abandoned, that’s where the fun starts. Paranoia, confusion and a different will to survive in each person soon has everyone at each other’s throats. There is also something stalking them. Something in the woods that no one can see. Something purely animalistic and evil. It wants them all to die. The only problem is no one has any clue as to what it is. The best thing about the story is, the reader has no idea either.

There are a couple of twists in this story that will make you have to forget everything you believed you knew as you were reading. I really liked that. Whilst it was difficult to read at times and the story flagged a bit for me in the middle, once the twists revealed themselves, you had no idea what was going on and just had to follow the adventure until all was finally revealed. The last twenty percent is a mad race to the finish. It’s exciting. It’s brutal. It’s bloody. It’s fun.

To summarise: Fast start. Fast finish. Slow in the middle. The narrative is a bit hard to follow at times, reading more like instructions than a story. A couple of killer twists that mean you have to change your perception of things that have been happening. In general a good read. I think I would definitely read more from these two but it would need to read more like a book than a screenplay for me.

General rating:

★★★ Liked it. Would read author again but not so recommended.

Horror rating:

★★★ Creepy but could have had more.

You can buy Wherewolves here:

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Book Synopsis:

Using a fun, explosive style, full of new slang and fresh dialogue, WHEREWOLVES is the story of a group of high school seniors, most “military brats”, who are headed for an army-type survival weekend.

The underdogs, Jeffrey and Doris, do not want to go as they fear for their safety among the disdain and cruelty of the popular students. Sergeant Tim O’Sullivan, their teacher, as well as their dysfunctional parents pressure them into going, but it is an unforgivable act by their peers that propels the pair to go. Likewise, Elie, a student resented because of his Arab roots, is even more determined to prove himself this weekend. In the background, a news report cautions of a wanted couple with alleged super-human strength supposedly brought on by a new drug on the streets.

In the woods, the students hike, hunt, camp, and soon act in unity as the forest brings them closer together. But does it? O’Sullivan leaves them alone for the night. The students bond, chant, tell campfire tales, and quickly lose their fears and inhibitions. HOO-AH! Though sexual tensions are high, it soon turns to violence and everything quickly turns sour.

When the kids start disappearing one after the other, the remaining begin to unwittingly “act like the natives” carving spears, ready to face whatever is out there. What has gotten into them?

Amid the blood-curdling growls and the gruesome deaths, the story’s underlying layers are revealed. We see how misconceptions, prejudice, greed, fear, and hatred bring out the worst and best in them.

What is out there? Can it really be werewolves?

 John Vamvas and writing partner/wife, Olga Montes, started as an acting team over twenty years ago. They soon began to write their own scripts for lack of finding two-person plays they could tour across North America. They've written and toured four full-length critically acclaimed plays to packed houses across Canada and the United States, including, Bad Boy, which they performed Off-Off-Broadway at New York's Creative Place Theatre in the heart of Times Square.

In 2001, they were approached to star in and co-write the short film, Things Never Said in Playa Perdida. Playa won the audience award at the New York Short Film Festival in 2002 and tied first place at the Festivalisimo festival in Montreal.

WHEREWOLVES was written as a screenplay in 2010. They wrote the novel, their first, to get the story out while they wait for it to hit the screens.

You can see more of John and Olga at their website.

John’s author page can be found here.

Olga’s author page can be found here.

No comments:

Post a Comment