Written by Stephen Laws
Published by Leisure Books
Laws’ last release from Leisure, Fear Me, was a pretty good twist on the vampire sub-genre, a division of horror I’ve never been a huge fan of. When someone can write a vampire story and give it enough personality to separate it from the rest of the dredge out there, it’s an accomplishment. His follow-up book is just as original a tale but is set completely in the real world, which makes it even more appealing.
The great thing about Ferocity is that it doesn’t go where you think it’s going to at all, shifting settings and introducing characters from seemingly nowhere about halfway through. Usually that sort of narrative device is jarring and can serve to take me out of a story, but such was not the case here. Instead it throws you off just enough to never be able to get comfortable with the storyline again; it’s surprisingly but effectively off-putting and serves to keep you on the edge of your proverbial seat, wondering where Laws might go next.
The setting, an English countryside, may not be the first place you’d think of a story that revolves around Big Cats; thankfully Laws explains it early enough in the book so that it makes sense. Seems super-rich businessmen used to think owning exotic felines like tigers and pumas was the thing to do before some Parliamentary changes made it illegal. Instead of killing their pets, said super-riches released them into the wilds of the UK to fend for themselves.
Farmer Drew Hall believes the Cats are among them because he has seen one face-to-face — only once, never since, but enough to make it an obsession with him. It doesn’t help that the encounter no one really believes he had occurred shortly after the accidental death of his wife. Needless to say he’s become a recluse of sorts.
The same is true of famous author Cath Lane, who is still dealing with the loss of her husband to a random act of violence years before. She’s moved to the countryside for some quiet and to get her next book done, and of course she and Drew manage to fall in love, fulfilling what I believe is a contractual obligation for all Leisure authors to feature at least one sex scene or at least have two character over-romanticize on their chance meeting almost to the point of nausea.
Said scene is a brief distraction, however, and actually works pretty well with the characters. It also happens right as a massive storm hits England, so Cath is in a rush to get home to her daughter. Along the way she stops to help some strangers whose car has gone off the road, and what seemed like a perfect night and the start of a wonderful new relationship turns very nasty very quickly. I don’t really want to go much further with it than that since for me part of the enjoyment was figuring out what would happen next, where Clark was going with this tale, and I wanted to hang on till the very end.
Which is where it almost all fell apart for me. The insanity that engulfs our characters for the second half of the novel works so well mainly because of the ratcheting tension. When that tension is snapped and violence breaks out, the pace of the book seems to treble and takes far too long to hit its conclusion. I would equate the ending of Ferocity (and I mean the last 50 or so pages) to seeing a really cool, fun horror movie that doesn’t know when to call it quits and just end already.
Despite some minimal melodrama with the leads, which again does work on some level since they’ve both suffered similar losses, Ferocity is a fun ride from start to finish. Be sure to check it out if you’re looking for a story that never takes the easy way out or spoon-feeds its readers. Recommended!
4 out of 5
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