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VINE VOICEon April 12, 2009
Although Bestial is a direct sequel to Ray Garton's Ravenous, it is also an indirect sequel to other books of his, including Night Life and Live Girls (I believe; I haven't actually read those books). As a Ravenous sequel, it focuses on werewolves, one of those popular monsters that are forced to live in the shadow of vampires (figuratively, of course, since many vampires don't actually cast shadows) and since it is a follow-up book, you should not really read Bestial unless you've read Ravenous first.

Bestial takes the reader back to the isolated California town of Big Rock, where the werewolves have taken over. Yes, there are still plenty of unaffected humans, but they are often prey for the lycanthropes, who spread their "disease" through sex. Leading the pack is Sheriff Taggart, who intends to create his own little kingdom. And while the werewolves are nasty enough, Taggart is also interested in the next stage of werewolf evolution, namely the babies being born from werewolf fathers. These babies are monsters from the start (which will remind some readers of the `70s movie, It's Alive).

There is opposition, however, including a couple of "good" werewolves. Principally, however, the good guys are Gavin Keoph and Karen Moffett, a couple of returning Garton characters. These two private eyes are employed by horror writer Martin Burgess to do some research into Big Rock. Previously, when Burgess hired them, they had nasty encounters with vampires, so they are a little reluctant (but not very skeptical) when it comes to looking into werewolves. Even armed to the teeth with silver weapons, they face the real threat of getting in over their heads with Taggart and company.

As a side note, if you're a Seventh Day Adventist, you will not like this book. Garton, a former member of this group, has very little in the way of good things to say about this religion, which plays a prominent part in the story. I wasn't offended, but others might be.

Bestial is a good book, with interesting characters brightening a standard sort of plot. There are no real flaws with it, but it also doesn't have the stand-out quality that makes it a great book. It may not be on your all-time top ten list, but if you like horror, you should enjoy this book.
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"Bestial" moves at a blistering pace. Where "Ravenous" succeeded by instilling a creeping sense of horror, "Bestial" triumphs in its intrigue as the werewolves spread their influence throughout Big Rock. The humans aren't toothless in this installment, however, as surprise guests from another Garton novel make an appearance. Private investigators Gavin Keoph and Karen Moffet have been hired to investigate the strange events in Big Rock, and they're packing loads of silver.

Since the werewolves' first strike, they've moderated their virulent spread. Slowly, they've worked their way through town, planting their roots. Next up is a large Seventh Day Adventist Church. Through it, the werewolves hope to strengthen their position.

Numerous unexplained "animal attacks" haven't escaped outside notice, however. Successful horror novelist Martin Burgess - always interested in the occult - is convinced something is amiss in Big Rock. He hires Gavin and Karen to investigate. They've been through territory like this before, however, (with an entirely different nocturnal, sub-human species), and they both bear scars from Burgess' miscalculations. Both wonder if Burgess has miscalculated again, and if this time their lives will be the payment.

They're right to wonder. A horrifying change has come to the werewolves. They're evolving, becoming something new. Better. Perfect. All the silver in the world may be useless, and it's very likely that Gavin and Karen's scars may be mere scratches compared to what they'll endure this round.

"Bestial" is a gripping follow-up to "Ravenous", primarily because it invokes an entirely different set of emotions. That's what makes for a truly successful series: installments that build, rather than rehash themes. "Ravenous" throbs with tragedy as jaded, disconnected, abused and naive townspeople spread the werewolf virus all by themselves. In "Bestial", there's not only the sense of impending comeuppance, but also the revelation the werewolf virus isn't necessarily the curse it seems. Even though there's more closure here, Garton still leaves trailing threads, hinting at an explosive confrontation in the next installment.
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on May 14, 2009
Finished reading Ravenous a month ago and had to read the second in the series. I simply could not put this one down. It is even better than Ravenous and that is saying a lot! Highly recommend these two books if you like monsters and gore. Ray Garton is becoming one of my favorite authors!
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VINE VOICEon October 4, 2009
"Bestial" is the sequel to Ray Garton's "Ravenous", which I have not read. I have read another Garton novel and have learned to appreciate his many talents, especially his tight storylines and very credible characterizations. Reading Garton is a delight because his carefully crafted characters and their interactions with the world of horror (werewolves, vampires, etc.) read so comfortably and flow so believably that the reader has to occasionally stop and remember that he/she is reading a work of horror.

Private Investigators, Gavin Keoph and Karen Moffett, are sent to Big Rock by horror writer and researcher, Martin Burgess, to investigate strange animal attacks and missing persons. They are soon up to their eyeballs in danger and gore as they discover the town is, indeed, infested with werewolves who have gained control of the sheriff's department as well as key areas of the community. If their evil leader, Sheriff Taggart, is able to gain control of the local Seventh Day Adventist Church, he hopes to cement the beginning of an empire not only for himself and his "pack" but for the new generation of lycanthopic monsters that are evolving from babies born of human mothers who were raped by a werewolf. Yes, in "Bestial" Garton takes a different approach to werewolf lore by using a virus spread by sexual intercourse as the vehicle to change or "turn" a human into a werewolf.

There are many harrowing moments for our protagonists as well as for several lesser characters in "Bestial". Although there are several "good" werewolves, there is no attempt to explain why every human turned into a werewolf becomes evil and bloodthirsty except for the three "good" ones. Keoph and Moffett aren't winning any prizes for being swift thinkers or master planners as they often stumble through stupid mistakes. But ultimately, they do exhibit the courage and the determination to set things right in Big Rock.

Much has already been said about Garton's unflattering depiction of the Seventh Day Adventist church and its founders in this novel. However, for me that was not a distraction, although it was heavy-handed and over powering in its intensity at times. Overall, I enjoyed reading this book for the sheer joy of reading a fast-paced horror novel that was well crafted and sprinkled with interesting characters. There are some untied threads at the end that could augur for another sequel but there is closure enough for the casual reader to enjoy this fun escapist romp into werewolf lore.
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on July 19, 2012
Not since Wolfile by Jack Woods has a werewolf novel hooked me in the way Bestial has. A lot of modern werewolf novels are written by women who have been heavily influenced by Anne Rice, so what the reader gets is a lot of sappy romantic nonsense. For example, the stories will be about werewolves who are just cursed and just want to live like everyone else and be in love like everyone else but the damn curse, it makes them do bad things.. boo hoo. But Garton's werewolf stories don't go that route, thank the werewolf gods. Garton's werewolves aren't unlike the ones in the Howling, they're stone cold killers with one goal, to infect as many as possible and take over. And unlike most werewolf stories where the "victim" is turned by being scratched or bit, Garton has come up with a relatively new way of spreading the curse, which gives the series a level of freshness.

In short, if one is into real horror and not that sissy horror nonsense Rice and Hamilton and Meyers write about and they loved the Howling, they owe it to themselves to read Ravenous and then Bestial. They are great books and I really hope there's a third chapter.
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on August 17, 2009
Man, I hate it when I read a book and then find out it was a sequal. I did the same thing with Jack Ketchum's Offspring. Anyways...

There has been an upward trend in literature to try and take vampires and werewolves from the side of the monsters and turn them into romantic heroes and heroines. We can blame this on Anne Rice. Adding to the mix are the likes of Charlotte Harris, Jeannine Frost, Carrie Vaughn, Patricia Briggs, and Karen MacInerney (the first two are vampires, the last three are werewolves with vampires in the story). Notice a trend in the authors? Ray Garton, however, grabs the wolf by the shorthairs and claims a big nu-uh, werewolves are bad and this is why. Garton jumps right into a gore filled story with the first born werewolf offspring being... well... born.

The town is being taken over by werewolf inhabitants, led by Sheriff Taggert. Into town come paranormal PIs Burgess and Keoph to find out whats going on and what happened to Daniel Fargo (evidently laid out in Ravenous which I didn't know was the first book because it wasn't on the shelf at the bookstore). So evidently werewolf-ism is passed on like a sexually transmitted disease in this storyline instead of the old legends of surviving a brutal attack. Either way, I don't care. Garton lays on the violence and sex quickly and forcefully, seemingly tossing the gore freely. It's fast and messy but a welcome relief from the current trend of romanticized monsters (don't get me wrong, I read Vaughn and Briggs and truly enjoy them). Overall, there is no 'great American novel' here but rather some good gory brain jelly reading for the weekend.
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on November 8, 2012
I can't put my finger on it but this book was not as good as "Ravenous". That said, it is still better than 90% of the werewolf books out there because it's Ray Garton! The action picks up where the first book left off, but it is not mandatory to read Ravenous first.

There doesn't seem to be a single central character, but rather many events from many perspectives unfold in each chapter. Maybe that's why I was left feeling slightly less satisfied than with the original book. It's hard to empathize with any one character since they all have "drama".

As others have stated there does seem to be an agenda with the Adventists and religion in general. Main characters die and others are converted and there is carnage but it is not as horrifying or suspenseful as the original.

The pacing is excellent however, and the author leaves things very open ended so that I'm eagerly hoping for a third installment. With the addition of new characters and plot lines, there is so much potential here that I have no doubt Mr Garton will make the best use of his skills to craft a whopper of a sequel.
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on July 29, 2011
Excellent follow-up to Night Life and Ravenous, one that's better than its predecessors.

Karen Moffett and Gavin Keoph, the investigators from Night Life, check out the disappearances and "animal attacks" in Big Rock, at the behest of best-selling horror researcher/author Martin Burgess (also a key character in Night Life).

When they get there, they quickly discover that Big Rock is a bad place to be, if you're not a werewolf.

Garton varies up the plot structure of Bestial, to its benefit: in abandoning the attack/rape/werewolf-out focus-structure of Ravenous (which was a set-up novel), and melding it with the investigative tone of Live Girls and Night Life, he's elevated this 'werewolves in Big Rock' offering to new cinematic, humorous and engrossing heights.

Garton's penchant for reads-like-real-life, open-ended finishes is once again in evidence in Bestial - I have little doubt that another werewolf sequel may find its way to publication soon.

Check this out.
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VINE VOICEon March 28, 2009
Ray Garton returns with a sequel to RAVENOUS. Garton's strength lies in believable characters, tightly planned-out plot lines and dialogue that is crisp and true.
Garton continues the tale of the werewolves in Big Rock and a their bid to take over the town...then the world!
Garton brings back Gavin andhte gang to fight them and the climax is explosive!
Another great read by Garton and lok forward to the next sequel.
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on June 24, 2014
I love this second in the series as much as the first one. Hope there's a third one! This was a different story with werewolfs I enjoyed very much.
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