Ginger Nuts of Horror
By Jonathan Butcher
A hairy, scary, shaggy dog’s tale to leave you howling for more
It’s always refreshing when an author – particularly an indie author – takes a risk. J R Park’s werewolf novella Mad Dog is a rollicking read that is particularly enjoyable due to its daring storytelling style. It is told through a series of interview snippets delivered by an array of convicts, wardens, police officers and more, and the book’s dizzying range of voices gives the story its bullet-fast pace and snarling, ferocious energy.
The tale charts the gruesome events that lead to a full-scale, blood-splattered riot at Darkdale Prison.
Mad Dog Mooney is a giant man – thing? - from a nightmare, and poor convict Jimmy Eades is about to learn more about Mooney than he would ever wish. From the opening page that tells us that the interviews we are about to read were conducted as a way of understanding what led to a “second serious incident in as many months”, we know that we are on a downhill plummet towards something horrific.
I’m generally a slow reader, but I ripped through Mad Dog in two sittings, compelled to keep reading whenever I reached the end of a chapter. Being an author myself, I am always impressed when a writer embraces an unusual stylistic choice and makes it work. Park moves the plot forward through a series of what, on the surface, seem like disparate observations and anecdotes from numerous characters, yet pieces the story together like an intriguing jigsaw. I felt like a magician watching a fellow illusionist perform a trick in such an engaging way that it shut off the part of my brain hungry to understand his methods.
The final quarter is well worth the wait and is so filled with action, gore, twists and revelations that I’m almost tempted challenge you to put the book down throughout the climax.
I enjoyed enormously and read it so quickly that I could give it no lower that 5 stars – however, I was not without my minor quibbles. A couple of times in Mad Dog, the characters used phrasing that did not feel typically conversational, and it momentarily took me out of the story. There were also so many different characters that, once or twice, I was slightly confused as to who was speaking. However, these sections were few and far between, and would no doubt be refined if the author revisited another book using the same storytelling device.
Altogether, if you are looking for a fun, pacey, pulpy read to satisfy those full-moon cravings, Mad Dog will certainly scratch that itch. Just buy it, and devour it whole.
“You don’t need my expert opinion of the esoteric to know there was something very, very wrong with him.” - Father Matthews
Mad Dog Mooney was a ghost story. A legend that spooked even the most hardened of criminals. But when he came to Darkdale prison he proved all too real.
The inmates are shell shocked by his arrival and rumours persist of his strange behaviour, whilst accusations of cannibalism from the media are not forgotten.
As tensions grow amongst the prison population, a jail break is planned to take place under the ethereal glow of a full moon.
Mad Dog is an oral history, a compilation of testimonies from witnesses to the atrocity that befell Darkdale prison.