Monday, 27 June 2016

REVIEW: Duncan Ralston - Every Part of the Animal

Genre: Crime / Thriller
Publisher: Shadow Work Publishing
Publication Date: 6th June 2016
Pages: 126


A copy of Every Part of The Animal was sent to Confessions of a Reviewer by the author, Duncan Ralston in exchange for an honest review. This is said review. This book is published by Shadow Work Publishing.

So everyone’s favourite Canadian person has a new book out! This one fell under my radar for some reason. I think it was because it is a crime thriller type story rather than the out and out horror we are used to from Mr Ralston. If you read any of my reviews of Mr Ralston’s previous work (included at the bottom of this review) you will see that in terms of his horror writing, I never fail to be impressed. Diverging into writing crime stories? I’m sure he could cope with the writing side of it. Would it be any good though?

This is what I thought.

Bo Lowery and her son, Caleb live a simple life. This is through circumstance rather than choice. They have a little house with next to no amenities and have to hunt for their food.

After one of these hunts, they come face to face with a celebrity vegan who happens to have a huge personality and an even bigger mouth. She takes offence at Bo hunting to survive and aims to make her life hell for it.

Bo thinks she can deal with this on her own. Little did she realise just how quickly things would spiral out of control.

So in terms of characters in this one we have four main ones. We have Bo. A dedicated mother that would move heaven and earth to protect her son, Caleb. She would use any method at her disposal no matter the outcome. Caleb is a quiet nine-year-old. He is being taught the methods of hunting by his momma and is eager to learn. He is also eager to know where his father is and is very conscious of doing nothing to invoke his momma’s temper.

On the other side of the fence we have Rainey. Spoilt young pop sensation with a very troubled past that no one knows about nor cares about. She has a big mouth and an ego to match and always gets what she wants, with no care as to how it will affect others. Darius is her personal protection agent. A glorified bodyguard that is more like a servant than anything else, he seems to have a good heart due to what he tries to do with Rainey.

In terms of a plot, I can’t really give you much without giving away some of the story which I am not prepared to do. The easy way of putting it is that Rainey and Bo clash and things escalate from there. You just need to follow the escalation by reading the book.

So how does Mr Ralston do in the crime writing stakes? Rather bloody well to be honest. I wasn’t surprised that the writing was good. I was surprised by the level of intensity involved in this story. It is a crime story but to be honest some people would think this is verging on horror because of the palpable fear on every page.

You may not agree with the lifestyle of Bo if your opinions, and beliefs side with the mouthy Rainey, but you will not be able to stop yourself from siding with her in this story. The viciousness of the young pop star gives you no choice but to hate her. She is vile. Bo just tries to do her best for Caleb. But then she takes things a step too far and you think why the hell did you do that! I found myself trying to think of ways she could get out of situations to help her. I know, it’s a story and I can’t change it but the writing in this is so good that and you get so embroiled in the story, you just cannot help but get involved.

Bo isn’t a master criminal. That is very clear and you can see glaring mistakes in what she is doing and you know there is no way she can get away with things but then, has she got away with things in the past? I loved the fact that this was written in such a way that you know you are dealing with an amateur if you like. You don’t have a master criminal at work. You have someone going with the flow and making mistakes and in some ways that makes the story flow much better. It makes it more believable that someone would make the wrong decisions and get themselves deeper and deeper in trouble.

Every single decision that is made in this story affects it in a major way. Nearly every single page has something that makes you want to read on and on to find out what is going to happen next. It’s about one hundred and thirty pages long but feels much longer. I don’t mean that it drags, quite the opposite. I mean that there is so much packed into this story you think you have read a full novel.

If Duncan Ralston decides, rather stupidly, to get out of the horror game, then he has a huge career ahead of him in the crime / thriller genre. He writes both equally well. Again, I’m not surprised that he did this. I am surprised that for someone writing outside their preferred genre, that he has totally nailed it and written something that many crime writers that have stuck at that genre for years, would be very jealous of. Bravo sir.

To summarise: an enthralling, fast paced crime story showing exactly how far someone is prepared to go if they are pushed into a corner. Perfectly written and put together, I defy anyone to not love this one.

General rating:

★★★★★ brilliant as always.

Crime / Thriller rating:

★★★★★ crackin crime debut.

If you would like to help support Confessions of a Reviewer, then please consider using the links below to buy Every Part of The Animal or any other books from Duncan. This not only supports me but also lets me know how many people actually like to buy books after reading my reviews.


Book Synopsis:

A hunter's world is turned inside out when brash young pop megastar Rainey Layne visits her small Alaskan town threatening Bo's way of life and her fragile ten-year-old son, Caleb. Pushed to the brink, Bo will show Rainey just how far a mother will go to protect her son.

EVERY PART OF THE ANIMAL is the first of several standalone crime novellas exploring the darker side of love, from horror author Duncan Ralston.


Duncan Ralston was born in Toronto, and spent his teens in a small town. As a "grown-up," Duncan lives with his girlfriend and their dog in Toronto, where he writes about the things that frighten and disturb him. In addition to his twisted short stories found in GRISTLE & BONE, THE ANIMAL, and the charity anthology THE BLACK ROOM MANUSCRIPTS, his debut novel SALVAGE is available now.

"Mr. Ralston writes horror fiction that is unflinching and pulls no punches." - Kit Power.

"Duncan Ralston is writing honest stories about real people, pitched headlong into extraordinary situations. And that is what makes them so horrifying." - Ken Preston, Dirge Magazine

And for more about Duncan, visit his site or find him on social media:

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