Sarah M. Awa, Hunter’s Moon.  Wickliffe, OH: Thinklings Books, 2020.  285 pp., pbk, n.p.

Sara M. Awa is a new author in an old genre, the gothic novel.  College journalism student Melanie Caldwell is bitten by a werewolf on a weekend camping trip in September and spends the next semester and a half learning what that means.  What it means is the end of life as she knew it—and the excruciating physical pains of the monthly transformation are only the tip of the iceberg. 

To protect her friends from the ravening monster that she becomes three nights every full moon, Mel must arrange for a safe place where she can be confined and hidden.  But that is just the beginning of the complications.  How do you explain your mysterious absence for three days every full moon to people who would probably think you were insane if you told them the truth?  The unavoidable deceptions and the need to cover the deceptions reach out from the monthly ordeal into the rest of the month to interfere with study time, relationships, every aspect of life.  The need to find a cure becomes an obsession, but every avenue is a dead end. Even if there were a cure, the Hunters would probably find you before you found it. Then it turns out that there are other werewolves, indeed, a secret Organization of them who might be on the verge of finding that cure.  But can they be trusted?

Awa skillfully builds up the horrific web of complications that would engulf the victim if lycanthropy actually had to interface with the real world.  Anyone who has been part of the small college subculture will feel right at home at Wellsboro College and will resonate with the realistic depiction of what would happen if one of its students were dealing with such a curse.  Awa captures the escalating intolerableness of Mel’s existence, demanding of the reader incessant page-turning toward a climax . . . that will apparently happen in volume two . . . or three.  We are only in the first volume of the series The Wolves of Wellsboro.  To be continued.

That is my one criticism of the book.  In a well-planned trilogy (or series of volumes of any length), each volume should be a self-contained unit, ending on a mini-resolution whose incompleteness impels the reader on to the next installment.  It ends with a cliffhanger but still has a feeling of completeness about it in itself.  Here the story just stops, with no apparent reason (to this reader) why the break before the next volume should come where it does as opposed to a chapter before or after.  Don’t get me wrong.  I plan to read volume two the very second it becomes possible!  This is an imperfection that will be easy to forgive if the series continues on the level its beginning promises.

Donald T. Williams, PhD, is Professor Emeritus at Toccoa Falls College in the hills of NE Georgia.  Any resemblance between Toccoa and Wellsboro is purely coincidental.  Dr. Williams does frequently disappear, but his absences have no correlation to the phases of the moon.  To sample his own work, go to https://smile.amazon.com/dp/173286800X?ref_=pe_3052080_397514860 and order Stars through the Clouds: The Collected Poetry of Donald T. Williams (Lantern Hollow Press, 2020).