When The Autumn Moon Is Bright, by Brian P. Easton

when-the-autumn-moon-is-bright-by-brian-p-easton coverGenre: Horror
Publisher: iUniverse
Published: 2002
Reviewer Rating: four and a half stars
Book Review by Ray Wallace

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Editor’s Note: I’m not sure when it happend, but the title has been changed to Autobiography of a Werewolf Hunter.

OVERVIEW: A first person fictional account of one man’s ongoing struggle to single-handedly rid the world of a terrible evil.

DETAILS: I tell you what, if I had a dime for every werewolf novel I’ve ever read… well, I’d probably have about forty cents. Because, you see, I haven’t read all that many. There was Robert McCammon’s The Wolf’s Hour, of course, and Skipp and Spector’s Animals… And I know there were probably one or two others that I can’t think of right now. Ah, well, not that it’s all that important. I guess my point is that there just aren’t that many werewolf novels floating around out there. Certainly not as many as have been written about vampires or serial killers or that other popular horror monster, the zombie. And that’s too bad, really, for it would seem that there are still plenty of stories waiting to be told about the somewhat underappreciated changeling. Apparently Brian Easton thought so and it’s a good thing too for his book When the Autumn Moon Is Bright proves this theory beyond any shadow of a doubt.

The book is told in the first person by a man named Sylvester James Logan who we first meet as a boy being raised by his father. The mother died while giving birth to Sylvester. The father is a woodsman who teaches his son the ways of the forest and tells him early and often that real men don’t cry, that they turn their tears into something else, like anger. It is a philosophy that will mold his life.

One day Sylvester’s father brings him into the mountains to visit an old Indian friend named Michael Winterfox. Night falls while father and son are traveling through the woods and Sylvester watches in horror as his father is attacked and killed by some monstrous beast. Michael Winterfox takes Sylvester in and explains to him that it was a werewolf that killed his father.

Now Sylvester has a calling in life: he will dedicate himself to eradicating the world of these terrible creatures. Winterfox teaches him the fighting skills of the legendary Reydosnin Indians, training him for the path he has chosen for himself. The training is brutal, bordering on the abusive, but Sylvester accepts it all, willing to do whatever it takes to prepare himself for the formidable task ahead. Unfortunately, it would seem to be his destiny to discover that no one can ever be truly prepared for such an undertaking.

Sylvester’s search for “the Beast” — as he refers to his powerful adversary — takes him to places far from his native Canada and on many a dark and perilous adventure. His journeys lead him throughout the US — as far south as New Orleans on the trail of a particularly powerful wolf — into the heart of the Vietnam conflict where he discovers new levels of pain and torment as a POW, and into the frozen wasteland of Siberia where he has been hired to hunt a monster that has been terrorizing a local train route.

Along the way he faces a variety of enemies including the Noble Wolven — powerful wolves directly descended from the original Beast princes — and the Darkest Wolven — the worst of them all, crazy beasts that never bother to wear a human face. Along the way Sylvester manages to spend time in a hellish maximum security prison, to make enemies with the Mob, to nearly get himself killed on any number of occasions, and to fall in love — much to Michael Winterfox’s chagrin.

With each battle Sylvester loses a little bit more of his soul and becomes more and more like the Beast he is so obsessed with destroying. Inevitably he begins to wonder if it has all been worth it and whether or not this is a war he can ever hope to truly win.

When the Autumn Moon Is Bright is a must read for any fan of dark fiction. It serves as a kind of travelogue through one man’s personal hell. Sylvester is one of the toughest SOB’s to be found in a work of fiction anywhere. Even as he falls further and further into that abyss Nietzsche once warned about we cannot help but continue to sympathize with him for we understand what drives him and where he has come from. And how can we not respect a person who has given so much of himself to a cause even after he has apparently lost his way?

The writing is smooth and perfectly paced and the victories and defeats experienced by Sylvester are heartfelt and believable. And let’s not forget about the werewolves which are some of the most relentless and fearsome adversaries around. So if you’re looking for that perfect book to read when the world is dark and the moon is full pick up Brian Easton’s When the Autumn Moon Is Bright. I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.

BOTTOM LINE: Great action and adventure in this dark page turner. Breathes new life into the werewolf myth. Highly recommended.

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