Cemetery Dance has once again teamed up with Al Sarrantonio to bring us MOONBANE, a quick-and-nasty retelling of one man’s story as he fights to survive an invasion by werewolves.

The book hits the ground running as amateur astronomer Jason Blake and his son Richie are watching the night skies together. What starts out as a bonding opportunity for father and son quickly devolves into an apocalyptic event as thousands of meteors fill the sky, some of which land near the Blakes’ property. Upon closer inspection they find a shallow crater, inside of which is a werewolf that attacks them, harming Richie. After retreating to the safety of their home, Richie quickly starts metamorphosing into a werewolf himself. I don’t want to go into many more details because the story is filled with twists and turns that are haunting and horrifying, some of which hit me pretty damned hard. Sarrantonio doesn’t pull any punches and deserves credit for creating a bleak story that unflinchingly caroms toward an amazing finale.

Perhaps my favorite aspect of the story pertains to the moral dilemmas many of the characters are forced into. In fact, I think this is what sets MOONBANE apart from similar stories in the sub-genre. Everyone faces heavy losses – families are torn apart (literally), friends are lost forever – and the sacrifices mount up as people fight to hold on against the vicious animals that are stalking them. Split-second life-and-death decisions need to be made, many of which are heartbreaking to read. We’re often left to wonder, “Would I be able to do that if I was in a similar situation?”, which speaks to Sarrantonio’s ability to make us care about the characters and feel the inner turmoil of their actions.

Also worth noting is the amazing job Cemetery Dance did with the book itself. The story alone is worth the price of admission, but also included is amazing cover art from Alan M. Clark and interior illustrations from Keith Minnion (including the beautiful endpapers and signature page). Add it all together with CD’s high-quality production standards and you have a book that will make every reader happy.

MOONBANE was a lot of fun. I read it in just two sittings, the pages flying, eager to find out what happened next. I’m giving it a 9 out of 10 for its fast-paced storytelling and sly twists and turns. Grab a copy while it’s available. You’d be hard-pressed to find a more enjoyable read this summer.

Al Sarrantonio’s MOONBANE is available from Cemetery Dance as a $40 signed limited edition and a $175 traycased lettered edition.

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