Good day, bookworms! Today I will be talking about Hugh Sterbakov's debut novel, City Under the Moon. Doesn't the cover already look exciting?
The story starts outside the United Nations Headquarters in Manhattan where an ambassadors wife got brutally attacked and her baby has been stolen (or worse). The fierce, emotionless FBI Special Sgent Brianna Tildascow gets called out to take on the case. Quickly she finds out that this is not just an ordinary animal attack, but something far worse. The attack seems to have infected to victim with a virus that triggers something in the body, causing her to become a wolf-like beast who goes on the rampage. The victims start multiplying fast each night and soon Manhattan has a werewolf epidemic on their hands.
While Dr. Jessica Tanner, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and her viroligist husband start fighting over the nature of the virus, Lon, a geeky basement-dweller gets cut off from talking to his online girlfriend when his werewolf expertise gets called upon by none other than the government...
City Under the Moon is a fast-paced read. Every moment is utilised to it's full extend, every page is covered with werewolves, guts and action. Yet, it's not a lighthearted story full of fluffy werewolves that rip their shirts off, or even your usual anguished puberty-metaphor, it goes in deep and it goes in hard. Everything and everyone becomes involved, from the Center of Disease Control and Prevention, the President, the Military, the FBI, a Romanian werewolf hunter with a tragic past and the irritating but lovable lycanthropy nerd Lon (after Lon Chaney Jr.) Toller who, despite not having the guts to meet his girlfriend in person, shows a hell of a lot of bravery when faced with disaster.
This story is so well written and planned out, it must have been a hell of a job to make sure everything is plausible and fits together. All the details make sense and seem extremely accurate. The governing bodies involved are written very realistically, Sterbakov has obviously done extensive research into the way things work and the methods that are available.
Sterbakov set out to write a story that portrayed the transformation as a werewolf to be far more frightening than being attacked by one and I think he managed that perfectly. The description of what happens to a person when they transform made my bones ache and my tendons recoil in horror. No thanks, I'd rather be ravaged by a werewolf (ooh err!) than become one myself.
If you like a good fantasy story packed full of action, gore, kick-ass female FBI agents (well, there is only one of those, but she sure counts for more than one woman), triumphing nerds and a President facing a terrible dilemma, this punchy, throat-grabbing book is for you.
I'm trying to come up with a rating system here, eeehmm, I give City Under the Moon five werewolves out of five!