Sunday, April 28, 2024

Cryptozoological Fiction Review: Myth Hunter

Myth Hunter: Wendigo Nights

by Shannon Lawrence

Warrior Muse Press, 2024

There's a considerable crossover between straight cryptofiction and urban fantasy. Shannon Lawrence's Myth Hunter: Wendigo Nights adroitly straddles both worlds in a way that offers great characters and plenty of thrills and adventure.

Selina Moonstone is a Myth Hunter, fully human but with some heightened abilities (a little like a Slayer in the Buffyverse, come to think of it). Selina is part-Cherokee, as is the author, who made Selina in her image to avoid trampling on other people’s stories the way many authors do.

Some of Selina's time is spent dealing with “common” cryptids like Bigfoot. Bigfoot here is generally benign, but has to be shooed away from human habitats. She also deals with nasty cryptids like Chupacabras, but they’re hamsters compared to the Wendigo. The Wendigo is a malevolent magical entity that possesses humans. Lawrence’s Wendigo is accurately described as the being of Indigenous legend (here, Cree) not the Bigfoot-y cryptid of pop culture.

Selina’s old mentor and substitute father, Nathan, calls her to Canada for an emergency. He needs her help to deal with a Wendigo – but exactly what help he needs, and why, shakes her to her core. Selina must search desperately for a forgotten ritual no one is even sure exists, dogged by Charles, a cryptozoologist turned cryptid killer. Kudos to Lawrence for dealing with a lot of stuff that gets handwaved by other authors, such as how Selina gets an arsenal of weapons across a national border.

It was a little fuzzy to me how well-known cryptids are - most people don't believe in them, but Selina, needing any help she can get, tells Charles he'll be famous on TV for killing a Wendigo. That’s a quibble, though. The story works, the twists are great, and the big confrontation is a nailbiter. I can visualize the locations easily and immerse myself in the evocative milieu of spirit and myth. Lawrence’s version of an old legend, the Sin Eater, is an original take and adds fun to the story.

I’ve never commented on a sex scene in a book, but this one deserves notice because of its humanity. Short but beautifully written, it's all about touch and emotion, not the frantic gymnastics we're all so sick of.

At the end of the book, Selina’s life has changed in ways I won’t spoil, but we know she has a lot of adventures ahead of her. Readers will be there for it.

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