I received this book from The Next Best Book Club in exchange for an honest review.
“Death was all around us, constantly. Why was it so easy to ignore? Why didn’t people go mad, everyone terrified and helpless, blind to when or how death would visit them, or what world stood beyond the threshold? Were we dust, or were we immortal? Expendable or sacred? Fertilizer, or divine?” (Doyle 212).
Life isn’t going to well for Sandy Kurtz. He’s in his thirties and working at Lowe’s, his wife doesn’t love him anymore and now they have a baby coming, oh and Sandy’s also a werewolf. Six months ago after leaving his apartment after an argument with his wife and getting into a strange accident, Sandy finds that every full moon he now turns into a fearsome, carnivorous wolfman. But he’s sure he can handle it, he keeps finding ways to get his wife out of the house during the full moon, and he tries to stick to the forested areas where there are lots of dear. But will it be enough? Can Sandy continue to keep the wolfman at bay, and what will happen when the baby’s born?
I started off really enjoying this book, I found it funny in an absurd sort of way. Sandy is an everyday, meek man who only ever tries to keep the peace in his home and work life. This has become increasingly more difficult when once a month during the full moon Sandy is anything but peaceful, massacring dear and, in wolf form, tempted to kill more than the animals that prowl around the woods. Those humans, they just smell too good.
And it started off both fun and heartbreaking. I really felt for Sandy who, quiet and trying to keep out of everyone’s way, really just wanted to be happy. I was frustrated that things weren’t well with his wife, that he wasn’t really respected in his job, that he had to deal with being a werewolf and how he felt he couldn’t tell anyone. I just wanted someone to be in Sandy’s corner and to help him through it.
I also loved how bizarre it got at times, like Sandy joining a LARPing group run by his co-workers as an attempt to hide his turning on the full moon. It was hilarious and easily one of my favourite parts of the book, I was sad that the book didn’t have more of this. Like other reviews have said, the novel really does take a turn halfway through, introducing a cast of characters that are hard to remember. Honestly I found the last half of the novel hard to follow and was disappointed with the dark turn it took. I love dark horror but when the story began as more darkly comedic the shift was just kind of a let down.
I had trouble figuring out what the meaning of the story was, if it was the repeated comparisons of lycanthropy to addiction (which was a comparison I really couldn’t understand, is it fair to call someone an addict when they didn’t choose to become a werewolf?) or is it about toxic masculinity as the summary claims which, again, wasn’t made all that clear until the ending. There were also a few odd metaphors thrown around, including a comparison of the full moon to a communion wafer which could have been relevant if more of a crisis of faith occurred (which possibly did in the briefest of ways) or funny if the story kept it’s bizarrely humourous tone from the start (which it didn’t). I just feel that if this book was more consistent with what themes and tone it was going for it would have kept me more pulled in during the second half.
The Beast in Aisle 34 had good promise and started out fun and dark, but I was disappointed in the second half. That being said, it’s a great Halloween read and I think werewolf fans will really enjoy it because it is fun and dark, just not at the same time.
Publication: September 28th 2021
Publisher: Tortoise Books
Pages: 290 pages (PDF)
Source: The Next Best Book Club (Thanks Lori!)
Genre: Fiction, Horror
My Rating: ⛤⛤⛤
“Sandy Kurtz has problems. He’s got a baby on the way, his wife doesn’t love him, and he’s struggling to find passion or purpose at his big-box retail job. And, once a month, he turns into a werewolf.
In Darrin Doyle’s deft hands, Sandy’s story is a tall tale for our times, an absurd and darkly comedic take on toxic masculinity, small-town America, and the terror of not knowing who you are―or who you’re capable of becoming.
Join us on the trip. Feel the power of the full moon as it turns you into a carnivore capable of ruling the wilds of rural Michigan. Taste the rich blood of a pulsing animal heart; feel it cascade down your face as you transform into what you always wanted to be. Enter…the wolf.”