Posts Tagged ‘Michael Hebler’

curseofthechupacabra

BOOK INFO

Publisher: Night After Night Publications

Length: 308 Pages

Copy provided by author in exchange for an honest review

Curse of the Chupacabra is the follow-up to Hebler’s debut novel, Night of the Chupacabra, and picks up shortly after the devastating events in Dillmore Valley. This time around Hebler focuses on the journey of Suzanne and Jessie, two of the few survivors of that fateful night. In Night of the Chupacabra, Suzanne makes a promise to take Jessie and brothers Danny and Norman to San Francisco in order to start a new life and attempt to put the horrific memories of the chupacabra behind them. However, Suzanne is seized with doubt and thinks that she is unfit to raise the three children by herself due to her past as a prostitute and thief. Danny and Norman have already been sent to live with a new family in New York, and now Suzanne and Jessie are on their way to meet a family in Virginia City.

Suzanne is also traumatized by nightmares as a result of her previous encounter with the infamous chupacabra. Jessie is handed over to the Hutchinson’s, but any sense of normalcy is quickly shattered as the chupacabra appears in Virginia City and attacks Jessie’s new family. Meanwhile, Suzanne is introduced to a man named James Carter, an actor in the company Evelyn Diamond and the Rowdy Players. James has a mysterious past, and Suzanne must quickly decide whether she can trust this man after some terrifying incidents early in the novel. Jessie is able to escape the Hutchinson’s with her life and reunite with Suzanne, who then head off to San Francisco with the Rowdy Players, eager to put as much distance between themselves and the beast as possible. The trip west is filled with dangers as the group faces illness and the chupacabra manages to track them down, resulting in a startling conclusion.

While I really enjoyed continuing the mystery of the mystery of the mythical cryptid in Curse of the Chupacabra, its first half didn’t quite capture my attention as quickly as the  Night of the Chupacabra did. The first half leans more toward the traditional Western genre and  focuses mainly on Suzanne and Jessie with only brief mentions of the chupacabra. There are still elements of danger that play out through these early chapters, but it seemed to lack the same energy of the first novel. This also could be because the passengers on the train – the first setting in the book – don’t have the same strong personalities as the residents of Dillmore Valley. That being said, the second half of the novel where the chupacabra returns in full force is excellent and also re-introduces some familiar faces from the first book in the series.

I also want to take a moment and say that Jessie continues to be far and away my favorite character of the series thus far. She is a fiery character who displays toughness and ingenuity and has the most personality of any of the characters in my opinion. Despite being only 12-years old, I feel like she is the one most equipped to deal with the dangers posed by the chupacabra and life on the run. She is totally self-reliant and gets her and Suzanne out of plenty of jams based on her pickpocketing skills.

Curse of the Chupacabra is another entertaining installment in Hebler’s series on the monster and ends with an interesting twist that promises more exciting novels ahead. If you have not already read any of Hebler’s books, I recommend checking out the series and giving it a try starting with Night of the Chupacabra. If you have an interest in the Western/horror genre and cryptids, this is a series worth checking out. The third book, Legend of the Chupacabra, was recently released at the end of July.

Rating: 3.5/5

LINKS

Michael Hebler’s Official Website

Purchase Curse of the Chupacabra and the rest of the Chupacabra books on Amazon

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Night of the Chupacabra cover

BOOK INFO

Publisher: Night After Night Publications

Length: 300 Pages

Submitted by the author for review

Night of the Chupacabra by Michael Hebler is the first book in a six novel series based on the mysterious cryptid known as the Chupacabra, a beast that is said to feast on the blood of goats and other livestock. The book focuses on Drake Byrne and his family as they head out west to San Francisco in search of a better life. Everything seems to be perfect for Drake at the start of the novel; he has a loving family and an exciting new adventure ahead of him. Then one night a mysterious creature ravages the camp in a fit of bloodlust and Drake loses everything. His family and friends are killed – with the exception of his wife, who fled the attack amidst the chaos – and Drake is left for dead while the camp burns around him.

Five years after the attack,  Drake is now hideously disfigured after his first encounter with the Chupacabra and finds himself in the town of Dillmore Valley, determined to locate his wife. Drake’s disfigurement  instantly puts him at odds with the residents of the town and quickly finds himself on the run after an incident at the town’s saloon convinces the town and its sheriff that he is a murderer. However, something far more sinister has arrived in Dillmore Valley and it will leave nothing but death and destruction in its wake.

Initially, I had my doubts about the Chupacabra being scary enough to drive the novel as it is usually reported as being rather small, but Hebler managed to tweak the mythology to make the creature downright terrifying. Hebler’s Chupacabra is about the size of a man with spikes that run from its head to its tail, red eyes and a stinger-like appendage that it uses to drink the blood of its victims. It is also extremely fast, smart and can heal itself which makes it a lethal predator throughout the novel.

I also loved the origin story Hebler created for the Chupacabra. Despite numerous reported sightings in real life, there is no real definitive explanation of exactly what it is or where it came from. This ambiguity allowed Hebler to create an intriguing background for the monster. I don’t want to spoil the answers outright for any potential readers, but Hebler weaves in Native American tradition to explain one component of its origin. The other part is one of the biggest twists in the novel and I can honestly say I didn’t see it coming! Drake’s earlier interactions with the monster in Dillmore Valley were a bit confusing, but after it is revealed what the Chupacabra is, it all makes sense and makes Drake’s struggle more complicated. I wish Hebler would have given more insight into these earlier interactions after the big reveal, but it is possible the issue could be explored in future novels.

Night of the Chupacabra is a thrilling horror and western mash-up that I found almost impossible to put down. Despite a few spots that were a little confusing, the novel is an action-packed read with a great cast of characters and plenty of surprising twists and should appeal to fans of many different genres. I am looking forward to checking out the other books in the series and it will be interesting to see where the series goes once it moves from the 1800s into the 20th century.

Rating: 3.5/5

Links

Michael Hebler’s official website

Purchase Night of the Chupacabra on Amazon