Friday, 24 January 2014

Linda Root reviews Blood on the Moon

Blood on the 

by D. Michelle Gent
A  review by Linda Root

This is the third book in the formidable and prolific Michelle Gent’s excursion into the Society of the Wolves and features once more the female Sentinel called Red. It differs from its precursor Deadlier than the Male, which while not technically a time slip adventure, features Red in two aspects. She first appears in medieval Europe when she is known as Hazel, then as the colorful, flamboyant contemporary Sentinel wolf named Red, who is not the kind of werewolf anyone with half a brain-- human or wolfen-- wishes to mess with. Red and her kind do not like to be called werewolves, and in respect for their wishes, I shall refer to them as the Wolf, a species separate from the Humes with whom they share the planet and sometimes interbreed.  The resultant of such encounters are anathema called Throwbacks. As Sentinel, Red’s job is to flush them out.

Unlike Deadlier, Blood on the Moon  is a contemporary story, but one that draws on myriad disciplines from mythology to systems science and the structure of groups. This is not a book that invites a simple visit on an e-reader during a high school or middle school student’s free period or lunch hour.

What makes both novels featuring the character Red stimulating but difficult to review is that Gent has created a complex parallel society in which to place her characters. The Wolf society has its own rules, hierarchy, enforcers and, unfortunately, its own violators, splinter groups, rebels, and factions that do not agree as to how the Wolf should deal with one another or interact with the Humes with whom they share the planet.  Those issues are not simple because in Gent’s universe, the Wolf presence is widespread and highly developed, but vastly outnumbered by humankind. Because of the disparity in numbers between the societies of Wolf and Hume, the former is always at risk. The great danger is that a subculture within the society of the Wolf will behave outrageously and thus draw attention to its presence, resulting in a widespread purge which will obliterate the species.  Understanding this is important to the story, because the mainstream  led by Lycoan is  neither humane nor less wolflike than those who follow the evil Darius.  They simply realize that their survivial as a species requires vigilance, obscurity and temperance.  Red and her friends are no less vicious than their less responsible counterparts.  Red wolfs down human organs with the best of them. She simply does not flaunt it in a manner that threatens the superior-in-number human forces.
The opposition, represented by Darius, aka Lord Grey, is not beyond exploiting his throwbacks and tricking his disciples in order to advance his cause, which in his case is domination of the Wolf and ultimately suzerainty over the planet.
In Blood on the Moon Red has many of the same allies and enemies readers met in Deadlier than the Male, and a few new characters to drive the plot. The first is a human female, the teenage Jessica “Rabbit” Warren. Orphaned Jessica has an ability she does not share with her  human friends—Jessica can detect the presence of a Wolf. She has observed them as they cavort and she has followed them as they hunt, and she aspires to become one of them. And that is where the story begins.
Jessica, like many adolescents who are discontented with their lot in life, falls in with the wrong crowd, the faction led by Lord Grey, who in reality is Red’s age-old enemy Darius. Red hopes that she has eliminated him in the final conflict of Deadlier than the Male, but she remains cautious. Unfortunately, Red’s skepticism is well placed. At the hands of a  Hume policeman who is in Darius’s control,  Red’s faction has been tricked into complacency. The death of Darius has been faked.  The resurrected Darius intends to replace Red with Jessica once she has become a Wolf, but he has not shared his agenda with his followers, who think he is a Wolf  of noble  intentions.  From this point the plot develops very much  like a contemporary political thriller in which well-intentioned followers do not realize that their leader has a different plan than the one promulgated  to the masses, and in which the line between good and evil are difficult to discern.
Gent has so artfully  comingled current societal  issues into her storyline  that we find ourselves forgetting that we are reading a horror-fantasy. There is more to the story than the usual blood and entrails expected in a story about werewolves, but there is plenty of that, too. And because our protagonist is herself a Wolf,  Red is true to her nature and capable of hunting at the head of the pack.

The story is populated with a complex cast of characters, and if there is a difficulty in reading Blood on the Moon, it is the challenge of managing the large supporting cast. Among my favorites are Selene, who is assigned  to be Jessica’s  mentor, and Falco, who is to be her sponsor in her quest to become a Wolf, but there are many others. Selene’s true role in the story is one of the novel’s best crafted surprises. I miss the degree of romance I found in Deadlier Than the Male, but Red has plenty of other matters with which she must deal. There are several subplots including one involving a Wolf who is outraged  when his role in Jessica’s development is minimalized and who behaves very much like an  employee who gets passed over for a coveted promotion or a jilted suitor. There is an incident when Red must kill a friend. The book is full of incidents of betrayal and loyalty, each  a subcurrent of the major conflict over the leadership of the Wolves. The issues faced by the characters are believable once the reader accepts the premise that the species in Gent’s stories are not the canis lupis of the motivational wall  posters or in the photographs of Jim  Brandenberg. These are sentient, superior and  vicious beings. 

D. Michelle Gent is a principal in Gingernut Books, and is an experienced  editor, which is apparent  in the quality products she has produced. Like Gent’s other novels, Blood on the Moon is an ambitious work of exceptional creativity which should make it incredibly seductive to any reader who likes fantasy- horror. But it will also attract many of us who rarely explore that genre. In  summary, this is an ideal read for fans of the genre, but also for anyone who is not afraid to explore something new, or who is ready for a sophisticated and thoroughly adult journey into the world of vampires and werewolves.  And best of all, the author and Gingernut Books, Ltd. assure us that there are more to come.

Blood on the Moon is available on Kindle and paperback.

Linda Root is the author of the historical novels in the Queen of Scots Suite, available on Kindle and paperback at Amazon. More from Linda can be found at her blog.

Michelle Gent is giving away a copy of Blood on the Moon to one lucky winner. To get your name in the hat simply post in the comments section or on our Facebook page here.


  1. Not a genre that I would normally seek out, but this review would tempt any who are drawn to it. A great review!

  2. Forget your sparkly vampires, run with the pack instead!