Hot Best Seller

Howl

Availability: Ready to download

From critically acclaimed Shaun David Hutchinson comes a gritty and raw portrayal of the oftentimes traumatic experience of growing up. Virgil Knox was attacked by a monster. Of course, no one in Merritt believes him. Not even after he stumbled into the busy town center, bleeding, battered, and bruised, for everyone to see. He’d been drinking, they said. He was hanging out w From critically acclaimed Shaun David Hutchinson comes a gritty and raw portrayal of the oftentimes traumatic experience of growing up. Virgil Knox was attacked by a monster. Of course, no one in Merritt believes him. Not even after he stumbled into the busy town center, bleeding, battered, and bruised, for everyone to see. He’d been drinking, they said. He was hanging out where he wasn’t supposed to, they said. It must’ve been a bear, or a badger, or a gator—definitely no monster. Virgil doesn’t think it was any of those things. He’s positive it was a monster. But being the new kid in a town where everybody knows everybody is hard enough as it is without being the kid who’s afraid of monsters, so he tries to keep a low profile. Except he knows the monster is still out there. And if he isn’t careful, Virgil’s afraid it’ll come back to finish him off, or worse—that he’ll become one himself.


Compare

From critically acclaimed Shaun David Hutchinson comes a gritty and raw portrayal of the oftentimes traumatic experience of growing up. Virgil Knox was attacked by a monster. Of course, no one in Merritt believes him. Not even after he stumbled into the busy town center, bleeding, battered, and bruised, for everyone to see. He’d been drinking, they said. He was hanging out w From critically acclaimed Shaun David Hutchinson comes a gritty and raw portrayal of the oftentimes traumatic experience of growing up. Virgil Knox was attacked by a monster. Of course, no one in Merritt believes him. Not even after he stumbled into the busy town center, bleeding, battered, and bruised, for everyone to see. He’d been drinking, they said. He was hanging out where he wasn’t supposed to, they said. It must’ve been a bear, or a badger, or a gator—definitely no monster. Virgil doesn’t think it was any of those things. He’s positive it was a monster. But being the new kid in a town where everybody knows everybody is hard enough as it is without being the kid who’s afraid of monsters, so he tries to keep a low profile. Except he knows the monster is still out there. And if he isn’t careful, Virgil’s afraid it’ll come back to finish him off, or worse—that he’ll become one himself.

30 review for Howl

  1. 4 out of 5

    — Massiel

    not me adding every Shaun David books to my tbr until I die.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Adam Sass

    This is not the werewolf book you think it is, but in the best way! Shaun Hutchinson takes the monster movie mythology and makes it deeply personal, so that HOWL presents a breathless story of a boy who suffered a terrible attack and then suffers arguably worse attacks from his neighbors and loved ones as time goes on with no one believing him. Harrowing, great stuff.

  3. 4 out of 5

    cel ✼ readwithcel

    “you’re a monster, baby. be a monster.” virgil knox was attacked by a monster. everyone saw him bleeding, battered, and bruised. but still — “he’d been drinking”, “he’s just being dramatic it was just an animal”, “ it’s his fault for hanging out where he should not have been” they all said. so virgil’s now wondering: is he monster or man? two things you’ve probably realised by now: 1) howl is metaphorical in almost every sense of the word, 2) this is not a light read. this book captures so much “you’re a monster, baby. be a monster.” virgil knox was attacked by a monster. everyone saw him bleeding, battered, and bruised. but still — “he’d been drinking”, “he’s just being dramatic it was just an animal”, “ it’s his fault for hanging out where he should not have been” they all said. so virgil’s now wondering: is he monster or man? two things you’ve probably realised by now: 1) howl is metaphorical in almost every sense of the word, 2) this is not a light read. this book captures so much without being overt about it. there is a story that SDH is telling here about assault. you may end up with a different takeaway though, depending on your own monsters. but at the end of the day— howl is the monster holding your head underwater so no one hears you scream. howl is the invalidation, the self-blame, the mocking. its the hopelessness, the helpless anger at every apathetic response. you so badly want to tell virgil that you believe him but can only helplessly watch on - you can’t be heard too. how immensely agonizing. i did not intend to write a review for this originally, but howl stuck with me for days after finishing it, so here we are with 1am thoughts. i’m thinking: this is so, so very SDH in a way that only he knows how to write. how visceral everything is - the stifling heat, the almost compulsive need to scrub your skin raw as you read, the way you literally can’t breathe. howl feels so much like a fever dream. but also, the way he writes about trauma. howl marks a return to SDH’s wheelhouse (à la we are the ants & at the edge of the universe) - the grit, biting wit, the things so that many shy away from. how he takes these traumatic experiences, and writes it with deep thought and empathy. and so. howl is the monster that tells you to keep quiet. that tricks you into thinking you are alone. don’t listen to it. keep making noise. don’t stop until someone hears you. CW: physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual assault, gaslighting, body horror/gore, homophobia, mental illness stigma

  4. 4 out of 5

    Stay Fetters

    "Memories have a unique power. They’re not just records of our past that we file away. They're living, breathing bits of us that we can revisit whenever we want. Memories fuel the engine of our souls." Being the new kids sucks. It sucks even more when you're forced to move to a very small town after being born and raised in a huge city. (Oh, I know about this all too well! And it does hurt) But imagine thinking that going to a before school semester party would change all of that and it making e "Memories have a unique power. They’re not just records of our past that we file away. They're living, breathing bits of us that we can revisit whenever we want. Memories fuel the engine of our souls." Being the new kids sucks. It sucks even more when you're forced to move to a very small town after being born and raised in a huge city. (Oh, I know about this all too well! And it does hurt) But imagine thinking that going to a before school semester party would change all of that and it making everything so much worse. Worse in a way where everyone calls you a liar and you have to walk around with sixty-something stitches. Virgil doesn't know what he has gotten himself into but he's in for a howling good time. This was incredible. From the moment that Virgil makes his appearance and up until the very end, I was hooked. I couldn’t put this one down. This was too bizarre not to love but it also has a deeper and more meaningful message that'll make you tear up. This may be Shaun's most memorable story yet and I'm desperate for more horror from him. Shaun does a fantastic job of writing about trauma and illness. He writes about the stigma of having an illness and corrects it for the readers. It was a perfect combination. The author never made you feel as if you were lesser of a person for having an illness or for being traumatized, he welcomes it with open arms and makes you feel normal. There is no one better to write this. Shaun is a hero. Howl was an epic story with an amazing cast of characters. Virgil was a deeply moving character that made me fall in love with this book. The horror mixed with the trauma while being new in a town and facing the evilness that is high school was fantastic. I'm going to now sign all of my paychecks over to Shaun for the remainder of my life and I beg him to write more horror.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Charlotte

    “Howl” marks a return to Shaun David Hutchinson’s wheelhouse. Much like his first books, this novel is hard-hitting, visceral and engaging. It’s just my opinion, but I feel as though Hutchinson was meant to write the things that others shy away from. This book opens with Virgil Knox in pain and confused. He’s been attacked by a monster and staggers into the parking lot of an ice cream place at the town he’s just moved to. Merritt is where Virgil’s father grew up and it doesn’t seem to have change “Howl” marks a return to Shaun David Hutchinson’s wheelhouse. Much like his first books, this novel is hard-hitting, visceral and engaging. It’s just my opinion, but I feel as though Hutchinson was meant to write the things that others shy away from. This book opens with Virgil Knox in pain and confused. He’s been attacked by a monster and staggers into the parking lot of an ice cream place at the town he’s just moved to. Merritt is where Virgil’s father grew up and it doesn’t seem to have changed much. It’s not the city that Virgil is used to, and his attack makes that more obvious than ever. No one in Merritt believes that Virgil was attacked by a monster and the small-town teasing escalates quickly to bullying and harassment. Worse than the monster pictures taped to his locker, Virgil must deal with the town’s residents saying the attack was Virgil’s fault. He shouldn’t have been at a party. He shouldn’t have been drinking. He shouldn’t’ have been in the Sprawl. What’s marvelous about this book is that it captures a few things without being overt about it. There are, after all, a lot of monsters in our worlds and we get attacked in a lot of ways. The result can often be the same. Sometimes, all we want it to be believed, accepted or supported. And, sometimes that can be the most difficult thing for people to realize that we need. This book is frightening. From the very beginning of the novel, Virgil is on a downward spiral. He is obsessing over what happened to him, he can’t eat, he’s sleeping in his closet because he’s consumed by fear and anxiety. And the world continues to function around him as though everything that happened to him is in his mind. This book really illustrates the battle we can have with ourselves. It’s about trying to fit in, heart break, screaming as loud as you can for help and not being heard. I feel as though this is the kind of book that will resonate for people in different ways. The journey that Virgil is on is relatable on many levels; Hutchinson had done a remarkable job of capturing the tangle of emotion that Virgil deals with. Go into this knowing that there may be some things that are difficult to read but I would argue that it is well worth it. Fans of “We Are the Ants” and “At the Edge of the Universe” will definitely want to pick up a copy of this book!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Cale Dietrich

    This was INCREDIBLE! With its small-town setting and horror elements, HOWL reminded me of Stephen King – so If you’re a fan of his, this is the book for you. I read it in a day because I just couldn’t stop. It’s a deep book that examines an incredibly serious topic through a genre lens, but Shaun’s writing is so engaging it’s easy to read, even if the subject matter is serious. This might be my new favourite SDH book, which is saying something because I’ve loved everything he’s written. It’s visc This was INCREDIBLE! With its small-town setting and horror elements, HOWL reminded me of Stephen King – so If you’re a fan of his, this is the book for you. I read it in a day because I just couldn’t stop. It’s a deep book that examines an incredibly serious topic through a genre lens, but Shaun’s writing is so engaging it’s easy to read, even if the subject matter is serious. This might be my new favourite SDH book, which is saying something because I’ve loved everything he’s written. It’s visceral, scary and unforgettable.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Nico

    I received an ARC from Netgalley for this review - Wow. Wow. Wow. This was not what I was expecting, and I say that in the best way possible. It's horror, but more so in the way that it uses what the reader knows the werewolf attack is an allegory for as a tool to terrify them. It's a werewolf story in the vein of Ginger Snaps, one that smartly uses something monstrous as an example of something that happens in real life. Much like Ginger Snaps used lycanthropy as a metaphor for girls transitioni I received an ARC from Netgalley for this review - Wow. Wow. Wow. This was not what I was expecting, and I say that in the best way possible. It's horror, but more so in the way that it uses what the reader knows the werewolf attack is an allegory for as a tool to terrify them. It's a werewolf story in the vein of Ginger Snaps, one that smartly uses something monstrous as an example of something that happens in real life. Much like Ginger Snaps used lycanthropy as a metaphor for girls transitioning into womanhood, Howl uses it as a metaphor for sexual assault. I'm a big fan of stories like this, the aforementioned Ginger Snaps and Jennifer's Body among them. It can be tough to read at times, because the words used are something everyone has heard before. The person who was attacked was asking for it, they shouldn't have been where they were, they shouldn't have been drinking, it's because of what they were wearing. It's all real, even when the werewolves aren't. The characters are brilliant and terribly infuriating, and when it came to the antagonists they didn't always come with a set of claws and a hairy face. My one complaint is that the book was maybe a bit too long, it could have trimmed a chapter or two off and not really lost much but that's just me nitpicking. Give it a read if it's something you can handle, you won't regret it.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Cassandra

    So, um, I'm NEVER moving to a small town in Florida and I think that's the lesson Mr. Hutchinson has been trying to teach us all along So, um, I'm NEVER moving to a small town in Florida and I think that's the lesson Mr. Hutchinson has been trying to teach us all along

  9. 5 out of 5

    Lexy

    2.5 stars. I was promised a werewolf book, or at least that’s what I got from the synopsis, and sadly this wasn’t that. It wasn’t horror either, or thriller. I get that everything’s a metaphor and that part was really sad and I hated almost everyone in the story for it, but nothing happens. At all. I was bored, and that’s even sadder.

  10. 4 out of 5

    DK

    This is classic Shaun David Hutchinson -- stifling Florida town, a main character wrestling with trauma, a pervasive feeling of uncertainty and looming dread, and laced with hopeful undertones provided by a few stalwart friends and allies. I ended up reading this book in a frantic afternoon because I was terribly worried about Virgil and also extremely angry with all the adults who were supposed to care for him but really did a horrible job of it. Also, as with some of Hutchinson's other novels, This is classic Shaun David Hutchinson -- stifling Florida town, a main character wrestling with trauma, a pervasive feeling of uncertainty and looming dread, and laced with hopeful undertones provided by a few stalwart friends and allies. I ended up reading this book in a frantic afternoon because I was terribly worried about Virgil and also extremely angry with all the adults who were supposed to care for him but really did a horrible job of it. Also, as with some of Hutchinson's other novels, I found myself drawn in by the mystery of the small town and its insular community. Are there werewolves in the sprawl? Why is everyone so mean? Just what on earth is the deal with some of these guys?! It kept me guessing and hooked until the end! The core of the story is Virgil and how the trauma of his attack continues to wreak havoc on his life. He feels unsafe, even in his own bed, and no matter how he tries to cope, he can't escape from what happened. It doesn't help that his classmates have made him a target of bullying, and that his dad, grandparents, and the police all blame him for his attack. Every accusation hurled at victims of sexual assault are levied at Virgil, and it's made worse by the people who try to tell him it's not so bad or that he should shake it off and get on with his life. It's not a pleasant read by any means but it's an important one. The book isn't all bad feelings and angst; I really enjoyed the friends Virgil makes and how they stand by him no matter what. I also liked the gradual shift in his family's views and how they treat Virgil. And there's a fun part of the plot involving high school theater! Overall this book has way less monster content than I expected but it delivers an intense and riveting story about trauma and healing.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Cynthia

    Picture this: You endure severe physical violence at the hands of someone else. You fear for your safety, for your own life. You escape. You, with your physical wounds apparent to all, reach out for help. You tell people what happened to you. And they don’t believe you. They tell you what they think actually happened. They discount the enormity of it. They blame you. They mock you. They make you doubt your own reality. They brush it off. They back away from you. They spread rumors about you. The Picture this: You endure severe physical violence at the hands of someone else. You fear for your safety, for your own life. You escape. You, with your physical wounds apparent to all, reach out for help. You tell people what happened to you. And they don’t believe you. They tell you what they think actually happened. They discount the enormity of it. They blame you. They mock you. They make you doubt your own reality. They brush it off. They back away from you. They spread rumors about you. They do everything but validate your pain. They add to the horror of the experience with their words and actions. You’ve been traumatized and there is no one to help you. There is no one who understands. Maybe it’s because you’re different. Maybe it’s because you’re not tough enough to handle it. Maybe it’s because your story sounds so extreme. Maybe it’s because you matter less than everyone else. You’re not really sure. Maybe none of those possibilities are actually true. You feel isolated, alone, and confused, biting back the pain of so many wounds while reliving the experience through the darkness of flashbacks. It’s enough to turn you into a monster, too. I hope that is difficult for you to imagine. But if it isn’t, Shaun David Hutchinson understands. And he’s written a profoundly symbolic book to let you know you’re not alone. He believes you. I believe you. Even if your monster doesn’t howl at the moon. *************************************************** The author does include content warnings in the beginning of the book. You can fairly expect a lot of potential triggers, especially if you’ve endured what I’ve described above. Know that sexual assault is alluded to again and again. It also addresses the stigma of mental illness and includes overt gay bashing. I am sure it goes without saying that the book centers around bullying and gaslighting. It is a book about trauma and people’s harmful responses to a survivor. Do not go in expecting a light read.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Lily Rooke

    When Virgil stumbles into town bleeding and disorientated, no one believes he was attacked by a monster. Instead, they blame him for drinking; for wandering into danger; and for not being able to move on with his life. Doxxed, mercilessly bullied, harassed at school and finding no compassion at home, Virgil finds his life disintegrating around him, as his body begins to change, and it seems the monster never left. First, massive content warnings necessary for anyone considering reading Howl. The When Virgil stumbles into town bleeding and disorientated, no one believes he was attacked by a monster. Instead, they blame him for drinking; for wandering into danger; and for not being able to move on with his life. Doxxed, mercilessly bullied, harassed at school and finding no compassion at home, Virgil finds his life disintegrating around him, as his body begins to change, and it seems the monster never left. First, massive content warnings necessary for anyone considering reading Howl. The whole book feels like a metaphor for rape, so there's that, plus gaslighting; victim-blaming; doxxing; bullying; gay-bashing; f-slurs; homophobia; kidnapping/abduction; date rape; sexual assault; body horror. This is about as far from a cute m/m shifter romance as you could possibly expect; it definitely leans towards horror, particularly the psychological, regarding Virgil's flashbacks and the visceral nature of his experience being attacked. Honestly I found this book incredibly sad. I would go so far as to say needlessly bleak and hopeless. Between wilfully incompetent authority figures who are arguably corrupt and certainly gaslighters, to Virgil's family who are full of victim-blamers and have no character development throughout the story, reading Howl was like being trapped in a nightmare. Perhaps that's the point, but for me, dark books like these need a touch of light, SOMETHING to make me feel there's some reason a character like Virgil wouldn't kill himself after his experiences. I found it strange that someone who was comfortable in his sexuality would have any time for the boys he attempts to befriend, after their treatment of him alongside the fact there are multiple other characters who welcome him, and who he also seems to like and not want to push away. It felt more convenient to the plot that Virgil happens to keep going to these parties, rather than there being any need for him to do so in terms of his character development. He doesn't really ever attempt to hunt the monster actively, he's a much more passive character than he could have been, and although he's dealing with extreme trauma, I do think the story could have been stronger had he taken a more active role as the protagonist. I think on balance Howl feels more like trauma porn than a fulfilling story, because to me Virgil's experiences and powerful inner psychological flashbacks are only there to elicit a visceral emotional response, rather than to drive him to act. The ending wraps up far too neatly for my preferences, and overall I found it an unsatisfying though disturbing read. Not badly written by any means, but not a book I would recommend.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Brady

    I got this from NetGalley and these opinions are my own. I really enjoyed this book but I don’t know if I could explain why. Virgil moves to a small town in Florida when his parents split, at a party he’s attacked by a monster but of course no one believes him. Virgil goes through a lot of trauma as a result of the attack. I loved Virgil as a protagonist it’s just the rest of the characters that I struggled with. Well not all of them Tripp and Astrid are both amazing friends. And Reba is not ter I got this from NetGalley and these opinions are my own. I really enjoyed this book but I don’t know if I could explain why. Virgil moves to a small town in Florida when his parents split, at a party he’s attacked by a monster but of course no one believes him. Virgil goes through a lot of trauma as a result of the attack. I loved Virgil as a protagonist it’s just the rest of the characters that I struggled with. Well not all of them Tripp and Astrid are both amazing friends. And Reba is not terrible. But Jarrett is completely passive aggressive, not to mention Virgil’s parents and grandparents! I wanted to rage at many of them on Virgil’s behalf! I think, at least to me, the thing I really enjoyed about Shaun David Hutchinson’s writing in The Howl was the correlation drawn between the trauma Virgil went through and traumas that people could go through in real life. The fact that people don’t believe him or don’t want to talk about what happened even when there are scars. And not just the physical scars but the fact that he can’t sleep, has nightmares, loses weight, struggles with being touched. Also it was relatable to read about how these small town characters responded to someone with mental health issues. Unfortunately stigmas exist and they can do a lot of damage. I liked that The Howl discussed that, in a different way, that still allowed the reader to make those connections. Excited to read this again when it comes out!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Eclectisism Incarnate

    I loved this one. ❤️ I'll try to remember to give more of my thoughts about this one closer to its release date. Original review: Feb, 12, 2022 Edit: April, 19, 2022 Sorry to have lost track of this. Life, sadly, doesn't order itself around our plans. Anyway, I really do love this book. The drama teacher, the mystery of who, exactly, is doing these things. Virgil is a great protagonist. He's believable in all his quirks. He's likable. The secondary characters are also fully believable and fleshed out. I loved this one. ❤️ I'll try to remember to give more of my thoughts about this one closer to its release date. Original review: Feb, 12, 2022 Edit: April, 19, 2022 Sorry to have lost track of this. Life, sadly, doesn't order itself around our plans. Anyway, I really do love this book. The drama teacher, the mystery of who, exactly, is doing these things. Virgil is a great protagonist. He's believable in all his quirks. He's likable. The secondary characters are also fully believable and fleshed out. That this is a metaphor is clear, but not in a way that detracts from the story. While the metaphor itself is clear (at least it is if you're familiar with the author) it could also stand in for a number of things, and I kind of like the universality of that. Basically, I highly recommend this book. Especially to fans of the author, but also in general. It's a fun bit of horror with a great message, and leaves one feeling less alone. Definitely worth a read. C.W. for violence/bashing (Now I'm going to go continue my streak of daily crying. Mourning sucks. Hug your loved ones.)

  15. 4 out of 5

    Dayla

    CW: Homophobia, Offensive language about mental health, Bullying, PTSD I might be wrong, but I think this is the first book I've read by this author! It took me a second to adjust to their blunt way of phrasing things like derogatory comments, but I think in this case it kind of helped towards bringing the metaphors of this novel together. I think Hutchinson does a good job of creating a situation where a story can have allusions to a literal monster and the metaphorical monster of being LGBTQ+ a CW: Homophobia, Offensive language about mental health, Bullying, PTSD I might be wrong, but I think this is the first book I've read by this author! It took me a second to adjust to their blunt way of phrasing things like derogatory comments, but I think in this case it kind of helped towards bringing the metaphors of this novel together. I think Hutchinson does a good job of creating a situation where a story can have allusions to a literal monster and the metaphorical monster of being LGBTQ+ and living in a small town with antiquated POVs about representation. I think the constant reminders of that night the attack happened acts as a way for the reader to experience the PTSD effect of intrusive thoughts at the most random of times. It was jarring at first, but now as I think about it, I can see that that was the point. Those reminders are meant to make me uncomfortable and never forget that the MC was scarred both physically and mentally by the attack--which can potentially be an allegory for homophobic attacks and how they linger long after the fact. The MC being ridiculed and called a liar is also a sad and great example of how it might be for victims after they've come out with the truth of their assault. I really enjoyed this and how everything felt like there was more meaning to it. There were also instances where the author sprinkles in some hints as to the MC's stage of acceptance with his situation. Like when he constantly thinks about how everyone he loves is on the other side of the country, but one day that sentence chances in the slightest of ways. If you're going into this expecting a horror novel, know that it isn't just in the obvious way. Sure, there are monsters and things that go bump in the night, but this is also a horror novel about the monsters inside of people and towns. This is a horror novel about the monster that could live inside of us, or that we might create of ourselves if we allow ourselves to be treated a certain way. After all, the MC (in his battle to fight his inner growing monster) allows some pretty homophobic comments and shit to pass so he doesn't rock the boat. If you're going into this book, be mindful of the content warnings. There are some strong and hurtful words used in this book. Happy reading!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Holly

    Fuckin' genius, honestly. Not tooooooo many YA novels get this literary and proceed to live in your head for a time. I honestly don't really know what to review besides this book is spectacular. Maybe some dribble about drawing comparisons to Howl by Allen Ginsburg and was that title choice intentional with the famous 1960s gay Beat poet who crushed hard on Jack Kerouac in mind? I kind of really hope so. Publisher's Weekly won't give you that review, that's for certain. Everyone ought to read th Fuckin' genius, honestly. Not tooooooo many YA novels get this literary and proceed to live in your head for a time. I honestly don't really know what to review besides this book is spectacular. Maybe some dribble about drawing comparisons to Howl by Allen Ginsburg and was that title choice intentional with the famous 1960s gay Beat poet who crushed hard on Jack Kerouac in mind? I kind of really hope so. Publisher's Weekly won't give you that review, that's for certain. Everyone ought to read this book. If it's on your to read list, you need to prioritize it immediately. If I was a library school YA prof this would be on the assigned reading list. I hate to dress down impressive literary works with stupid bullshit. BUT the knives are out to defend lgbt books against them 2020s censors. As a teen librarian I would say Howl has a similar power as Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, though the audience may be different. When I was a meek middle schooler, I read Speak too early without understanding sex assault/its aftereffects at all & therefore missed the entire point of the book. How? Kids self censor things they don't understand. My first point is that Howl is written so metaphorically that the sex assault thing could fly completely over the heads of those who don't have that trauma to relate to yet. My second point being there are no damning sexual passages for White Anglo Saxon [excessively] Protestant Karen to read aloud at a school board meeting. They would have to read the whole thing to actually get it and we all know how they don't love reading the whole thing. Also I handed it to a football player high schooler dude who "hates reading" + his mom before I checked my library's copy out myself to read it. He was the first person to check it out (I know, I ordered it) and it has that actually read-thru feel to it -- spine is a lil worn and whatnot. I saw your shoutout to librarians and educators during the pandemic, Mr. Hutchinson. I'm hoping it did something for him. I know you're occasionally active on this here website. :)

  17. 5 out of 5

    DK

    *I received an eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review* This is classic Shaun David Hutchinson -- stifling Florida town, a main character wrestling with trauma, a pervasive feeling of uncertainty and looming dread, and laced with hopeful undertones provided by a few stalwart friends and allies. I ended up reading this book in a frantic afternoon because I was terribly worried about Virgil and also extremely angry with all the adults who were supposed to care for him but really did a *I received an eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review* This is classic Shaun David Hutchinson -- stifling Florida town, a main character wrestling with trauma, a pervasive feeling of uncertainty and looming dread, and laced with hopeful undertones provided by a few stalwart friends and allies. I ended up reading this book in a frantic afternoon because I was terribly worried about Virgil and also extremely angry with all the adults who were supposed to care for him but really did a horrible job of it. Also, as with some of Hutchinson's other novels, I found myself drawn in by the mystery of the small town and its insular community. Are there werewolves in the sprawl? Why is everyone so mean? Just what on earth is the deal with some of these guys?! It kept me guessing and hooked until the end! The core of the story is Virgil and how the trauma of his attack continues to wreak havoc on his life. He feels unsafe, even in his own bed, and no matter how he tries to cope, he can't escape from what happened. It doesn't help that his classmates have made him a target of bullying, and that his dad, grandparents, and the police all blame him for his attack. Every accusation hurled at victims of sexual assault are levied at Virgil, and it's made worse by the people who try to tell him it's not so bad or that he should shake it off and get on with his life. It's not a pleasant read by any means but it's an important one. The book isn't all bad feelings and angst; I really enjoyed the friends Virgil makes and how they stand by him no matter what. I also liked the gradual shift in his family's views and how they treat Virgil. And there's a fun part of the plot involving high school theater! Overall this book has way less monster content than I expected but it delivers an intense and riveting story about trauma and healing.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Kassy Nicholson

    I absolutely loved this book. It wasn't the fun teen werewolf romp I was expecting, but it was so much more. THIS is how you write a novel about sexual assault. It's normally not a topic I want taking up a lot of space in my head (and heart), but this allegory was so spot-on. It really got to the heart of the trauma without going into graphic detail (it's the details that haunt me). And changing "sexual assault" to "monster attack" really highlighted how ridiculous victim blaming actually is. It w I absolutely loved this book. It wasn't the fun teen werewolf romp I was expecting, but it was so much more. THIS is how you write a novel about sexual assault. It's normally not a topic I want taking up a lot of space in my head (and heart), but this allegory was so spot-on. It really got to the heart of the trauma without going into graphic detail (it's the details that haunt me). And changing "sexual assault" to "monster attack" really highlighted how ridiculous victim blaming actually is. It was easy to love Virgil, Tripp, and Astrid, but they were still complex characters with their own flaws. It was easy to hate Finn, while not being sure at all how to feel about Jarrett and Reba. All the adults were low-key awful, with the notable exception of Mr. Hilliker. Being a former drama kid (and a queer kid in a town/school where queer kids were not accepted or always safe), I loved the descriptions of the school play and the little temporary community it becomes. I also teared up a bit when the author thanked librarians in his acknowledgments. I <3 <3 <3 Shaun David Hutchinson so much.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Eloise

    "No one should face their monsters alone, Virgil." . Shaun David Hutchinson has always been an auto-read author for me. And despite his last couple of books being 3 star reads, he still remains an author I admire, that I know will write books full of emotion. . Ultimately, this is story of abuse and trauma and finding hope where there first seemed to be none. And that was beautifully told. But the problem for me was how sad and angry and depressed it made me feel all along. The hope and slight nice el "No one should face their monsters alone, Virgil." . Shaun David Hutchinson has always been an auto-read author for me. And despite his last couple of books being 3 star reads, he still remains an author I admire, that I know will write books full of emotion. . Ultimately, this is story of abuse and trauma and finding hope where there first seemed to be none. And that was beautifully told. But the problem for me was how sad and angry and depressed it made me feel all along. The hope and slight nice elements only really came at the very end, after hours of suffering. And of course this is a story that needs to be told, we need stories of hurt and trauma and how abuse can make people feel so lonely and sad and anxious. But it just wasn't really what I was looking for especially this pride month, and the blurb clearly doesn't say much about what this book is actually about.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Laurie A Friedman

    Thank you to Net Galley and the publishers for providing me with this ARC in exchange for an honest review. This was my first book by this author (though I've been meaning to read his titles for a while) and I loved it. While on the surface, it seems simple. Boy moves to a small town, after his parents' divorce and is attacked by a monster... there is a lot more to it. Sure, there was little bit that was predictable, but the book was overall so well written and enjoyable an predictability is easi Thank you to Net Galley and the publishers for providing me with this ARC in exchange for an honest review. This was my first book by this author (though I've been meaning to read his titles for a while) and I loved it. While on the surface, it seems simple. Boy moves to a small town, after his parents' divorce and is attacked by a monster... there is a lot more to it. Sure, there was little bit that was predictable, but the book was overall so well written and enjoyable an predictability is easily overlooked in the entirely of the story. Will definitely be moving his other titles up in my TBR list!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jim

    Hard to put my feelings about this into thoughts. But why I love Shaun David Hutchinson, is because he can make you question supernatural storylines while at the same time writing about supernatural things. It was a good book, the subtext, the meta will stick with me and a few phrases might just haunt me.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Fan范 Dj

    It was good, it was so good!! Also i figured out who the monster was the first couple of chapters but i wanted to keep reading on to make sure. Shaun threw characters out at you that made me slightly second guess but he also threw in things that justified my answer. When i found out, i was literally saying, "I f**king knew it!! I f**king knew it!! Ugh, so good! It was good, it was so good!! Also i figured out who the monster was the first couple of chapters but i wanted to keep reading on to make sure. Shaun threw characters out at you that made me slightly second guess but he also threw in things that justified my answer. When i found out, i was literally saying, "I f**king knew it!! I f**king knew it!! Ugh, so good!

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jesse

    Okay. This book is really good. The metaphor of the monster attack is amazing and awful in just how destructive and hateful people can be to victims. I just can’t stand the bleakness and the body horror. It is just very much not for me.

  24. 5 out of 5

    savior complex die hard

    better allegory than animal farm. teach it in schools!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Kristen

    Edelweiss+ provided me a DRC of this book in exchange for an honest review. While this isn't my favorite Shaun David Hutchinson book (I'm not sure anything will ever surpass We Are the Ants), it was still full of the things I love about his work: blurred lines between realism and sci-fi, superb characters, honest emotions, and a narrative writing style that creates tension even in the most mundane scenes. The only thing that was missing from Hutchinson's usual arsenal was humor. While he often add Edelweiss+ provided me a DRC of this book in exchange for an honest review. While this isn't my favorite Shaun David Hutchinson book (I'm not sure anything will ever surpass We Are the Ants), it was still full of the things I love about his work: blurred lines between realism and sci-fi, superb characters, honest emotions, and a narrative writing style that creates tension even in the most mundane scenes. The only thing that was missing from Hutchinson's usual arsenal was humor. While he often addresses dark subject matter, this was the first time one of his stories felt dark and hopeless throughout. He says in the afterword that it is a deeply personal book written during the pandemic...so I suppose that dark feeling should come as no surprise. And did I mention tension? Because...wow. I felt like I was gripping my Kindle the entire time, waiting to exhale. And waiting. AND WAITING. Details from the attack in the beginning (often repeated details that reflect Virgil's current reality) are woven through the story, reminding the reader that there is something more sinister lurking. Something much more terrible than Virgil trying to fit in at a new school, avoid his grandparents' wrath, and deal with his parents' divorce. Something evil. (view spoiler)[It's pretty clear to me that the "monster attack" is a symbolic representation of being sexually assaulted. Perhaps Virgil has replaced the actual event with a monster attack to help cope...or he's simply making the story a little less horrible for the reader. Or perhaps Hutchinson is just giving us a monster story and allowing us to draw our own conclusions. (hide spoiler)]

  26. 5 out of 5

    Kylie

    I quickly requested this book because I loved Shaun David Hutchinson's book We Are the Ants. While I did love We Are the Ants more than this one for personal experience reasons, this one was really good too! It starts out with an absolute bang, Virgil has been attacked and crawls bloody and battered to the ice cream shop where he gets help. This is his first impression in a new town, unfortunately. His experience does not get better. He claims to have been attacked by a monster (no, not a bear or I quickly requested this book because I loved Shaun David Hutchinson's book We Are the Ants. While I did love We Are the Ants more than this one for personal experience reasons, this one was really good too! It starts out with an absolute bang, Virgil has been attacked and crawls bloody and battered to the ice cream shop where he gets help. This is his first impression in a new town, unfortunately. His experience does not get better. He claims to have been attacked by a monster (no, not a bear or gator) and no one believes him. He gets bullied and harassed by peers as well as guilt tripped by his dad and grandparents because his hospital bill was so expensive. And to make matters worse, his boyfriend and best friend from back home are becoming more and more distant. I liked Virgil, but he was just super passive about literally everything and that kind of bothered me. He just wanted to keep his head down and become friends with people who were obviously not people to be friends with, Jarritt and Finn. My absolute favorite characters were Virgil's cousin Astrid and the actual good friend he makes, Tripp. Astrid is literally the only "different" person in Marritt and she sticks up for herself and for Virgil. Tripp is just a good guy. He's funny and loyal and every time Virgil blew off Tripp for Jarritt I was so mad because it's so obvious Tripp is such a better friend. I also loved Virgil's drama teacher Mr. Hiliker. He was very supportive of Virgil's love of acting and even recommended a therapist for him. This book is almost trippy. We never really get the full account of Virgil's encounter with the monster because he doesn't completely remember himself despite only having one drink. We just get snippets here and there. So we are left wondering the entire book, did an actual monster attack him, or is he blocking out what really happened by imagining this horrific "monster?" This attack gave Virgil PTSD and extreme anxiety. He had to sleep in his closet, he jumped when anyone touched him. He was constantly triggered by little every day things that happened throughout the whole book. The mental illness in this book was not shunned (except by certain older characters typically), therapy was welcomed, with both a one on one therapist as well as group therapy. This book was set in a town set in it's old ways where anything to do with mental health is NOT OK. It was hard for Virgil coming from Seattle where mental health and being gay is totally accepted going to Merritt where he is an anomaly and it was really nice to see the characters who did accept him for who he was and did want to help him get better and not just take what happened to him and shut it away in the back of his mind. Definitely one to check out if you enjoy LGBTQ+ horror!

  27. 5 out of 5

    Erin

    This is such a good book but it is so very difficult to read. And it should be, it's a story of trauma and a metaphor for so much more. I was really blown away by the absolute gut punch this was. This is such a good book but it is so very difficult to read. And it should be, it's a story of trauma and a metaphor for so much more. I was really blown away by the absolute gut punch this was.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

    CW: Please note this novel contains graphic depictions of body horror/gore, gaslighting, and PTSD After the divorce of his parents, fifteen year old Virgil Knox is uprooted across the country from Seattle to the one-horse town of Merritt, Florida. Life in Merritt is bad enough on its own, but it becomes much worse when the town mocks and ostracizes Virgil after he's attacked by a monster in the night-- there are certain things nobody talks about here, if they know what's good for them. Hutchi CW: Please note this novel contains graphic depictions of body horror/gore, gaslighting, and PTSD After the divorce of his parents, fifteen year old Virgil Knox is uprooted across the country from Seattle to the one-horse town of Merritt, Florida. Life in Merritt is bad enough on its own, but it becomes much worse when the town mocks and ostracizes Virgil after he's attacked by a monster in the night-- there are certain things nobody talks about here, if they know what's good for them. Hutchinson veers into a new direction of horror-realism in Howl, certainly his creepiest book to date. I was completely captivated by the bizarre operations of Merritt and Virgil's attempts to navigate them. Who knew that a humid, hairy Florida secret could be so chilling?

  29. 5 out of 5

    Hailey Sawyer

    "I have mixed feelings on Howl by Shaun David Hutchinson" is something that I never expected to say. (Virgil Knox was attacked by a monster. Of course, no one in Merritt believes him. Not even after he stumbled into the busy town center, bleeding, battered, and bruised, for everyone to see. He’d been drinking, they said. He was hanging out where he wasn’t supposed to, they said. It must’ve been a bear, or a badger, or a gator—definitely no monster. Virgil doesn’t think it was any of those things. H "I have mixed feelings on Howl by Shaun David Hutchinson" is something that I never expected to say. (Virgil Knox was attacked by a monster. Of course, no one in Merritt believes him. Not even after he stumbled into the busy town center, bleeding, battered, and bruised, for everyone to see. He’d been drinking, they said. He was hanging out where he wasn’t supposed to, they said. It must’ve been a bear, or a badger, or a gator—definitely no monster. Virgil doesn’t think it was any of those things. He’s positive it was a monster. But being the new kid in a town where everybody knows everybody is hard enough as it is without being the kid who’s afraid of monsters, so he tries to keep a low profile. Except he knows the monster is still out there. And if he isn’t careful, Virgil’s afraid it’ll come back to finish him off, or worse—that he’ll become one himself.) ~ Blurb from Goodreads The stuff with Virgil and his situation was fantastic. The way Virgil reacted, the thoughts Virgil had, and how Virgil felt actually seemed realistic and believable. He switches back and forth between being afraid and being angry, constantly has nightmares and flashbacks, repeats a specific phrase (in his case "I didn't scream."), the list goes on. What's also interesting is that, even before he decides to pursue the monster, he doesn't seem to like pity or use the incident as an excuse to be an awful person, implying that he does have some kind of backbone before that point. Speaking of Virgil and his situation, I also liked those "bolded moments". So every once in a while, pieces of text will be bolded and basically act as flashbacks to what happened during the attack or just prior to it. I think by bolding these moments, it really demonstrates just how much flashbacks like these take over the moment. It's a great way to add visual flair to a novel without being gimmicky. The pacing is nice and brisk. For one thing, most chapters are under twenty pages long. On top of that, there isn't a ton of padding, but it doesn't skimp out on important character development or plot details either. Unfortunately, one major issue that just holds this book back is its portrayal of a small southern town. It is the most stereotypical and over the top I've ever seen. I'm not even joking. From the Confederate flags to the "gay bad" attitude to the big trucks to the love of guns and even a fair share of religious people, practically every southern stereotype in the book is here. It's as if the extent of the author's research on the south seemed to be watching movies and TV shows. Not only that, but because this portrayal is so stereotypical and over the top, it's really distracting and makes it unnecessarily difficult to get invested in the story. In chapter three, Pastor Wallace says, "What in the Yankee Doodle?!" in earnest and it legitimately made me ask, out loud, "Who says that?" I understand that he's a religious person and may not want to say "God" in fear of taking his name in vain and whatnot, but even for a character like that, there are phrases you can have him say that don't use "God" and don't sound completely unbelievable, like "What in the Sam Hill?" The reveal of Jarrett being the monster was extremely predictable. No I'm not putting a spoiler tag for that because, even from the moment he's introduced, it's obvious that he's going to be the monster. Now granted the book does try to make this less predictable by making it seem like (view spoiler)[Finn (hide spoiler)] or even (view spoiler)[Tripp's dad (hide spoiler)] could be the monster, which might've been great misdirection, if it weren't cancelled out by Tripp's constant warnings about how Jarrett is a bad guy. Overall, Howl is a book that, based on its awesome blurb, I believed would be a touchdown. Instead, I've never felt more mixed about a book since What If It's Us. Overall Grade: C

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jam Hosting Reviews

    **Howl: or a teenage boy attacked by a predator/monster in a small town is left with the poison and scars in this odd sort of werewolf novel** This book is not settled with its metaphors about the small town were certain people in the community basically consider others like raw meat. There are those who basically date rape and such activities that are hidden like that are placed in analogies of werewolf monsters. Virgil, a young guy previously from the West Coast who leaves his boyfriend and ev **Howl: or a teenage boy attacked by a predator/monster in a small town is left with the poison and scars in this odd sort of werewolf novel** This book is not settled with its metaphors about the small town were certain people in the community basically consider others like raw meat. There are those who basically date rape and such activities that are hidden like that are placed in analogies of werewolf monsters. Virgil, a young guy previously from the West Coast who leaves his boyfriend and everyone he knows to live in his father’s hometown of Merritt, Florida with his grandparents has a definite dark time as the new kid shamed by his encounter with a creature. The rampant bullying and victim shaming by his family abd the community doesn’t really make sense except by analogy for his sexuality and preferences as a drama student. The story definitely tries to grind into the narrative that almost everyone in Florida is a certain sort of good old boy who only likes country music and their cousins. At the same time there are mixed messages and a little bit of nuance that creeps out despite the book being kind of all over the place with the grim parts. As a teen drama with an incredibly slight supernatural element, it has some really interesting moments dealing with awkward high school life when you move to an unfamiliar community but it often dials everything up to 11 to the point of feeling ridiculous and overwrought. Despite these incredibly protracted and frustrating sections, there is an interesting sort of criminal mystery with a handful of twists and the characters weren’t terrible. It’s just a very sloppy story which feels like it wastes a lot of time. One of the things I found incredibly irritating was the repetition of certain phrases that the character remembers being said to them and these repetitions literally happened several hundred times throughout the novel. I get it when they’re punctuating a point but the use of this narrative device without any kind of visible pay off for the story just felt like a waste of word count. Now here’s the weird part because I actually think this book deserves a three out of five. That’s a little bit strange considering I have so much to complain about it. It’s an absolute mess but the parts that kept me engaged were darn good and it was easy to find myself involved with the characters. Stories can be an absolute cluster F but if the characters bring it together I find it much more memorable than it would be otherwise. Now, I could give the book 2 1/2 but I tend to reserve that rating for stories of absolute average mediocrity. But then I’ve also given very ambitious books 2 out of five. And two would be as low as I want to go. This feels like one of those cases where ratings don’t really tell the full story. I’m giving this three howls in the woods out of five, not for any objective criteria I can assign this story to place it above or below another one. There were sections of this book that felt like nails on a chalkboard and I absolutely hated them but then at the same time there were elements which really kept me engaged and involved and fascinated to see where it would end up it was so frustratingly interesting. And that’s where I have to leave my opinion. I can absolutely see people who think this book is a pile of junk that loses its way and I can absolutely see where people think this book was very heartfelt and interesting and I think it was actually both of those books at the same time. It’s better than a lot of high school drama junk and it also feels like something not too far went from what I would want to write. It just has major issues. So it’s a difficult half recommendation but for some people, definitely a book to check out.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...