Note: Review copy supplied by author
Title: Vengeance [Hybrid Series #3]
Author: Nick Stead
Publisher: Wild Wolf Publishing
Genre: Horror / Werewolf
Length: 374 pages
Nick Stead has been captured by his enemies, but unlike previously, this time it’s personal. His captors mean to make him suffer a whole new series of torments before finishing him off. He has no way of knowing if Lady Sarah and Selina are alive or dead and must place his trust in new allies if he is to have any hope of escaping. But the way is paved with blood and death. Nick faces trials designed to push even a werewolf to his limits and with his energy running low, time is not on his side. Freedom comes at a high price and escape this time will mean battling something far worse than the Slayers. Danger lurks around every corner and once again, Death is closing in.
Having already reviewed the first two books in Nick Stead’s werewolf series, Hybrid and Hunted, I was happy to get a chance to review this third installment too. Somehow though, it got away from me and has taken an absolute age to get to. So, my apologies to Nick for that one. Now that I’ve caught up, was this another strong entry in the series? I would say, yes.
In some ways, this was everything you’d expect if you read the first two books. It’s an old school cursed shifter tale at its heart, and coms with all the caveats you’d expect from that. Nick may have some control over his lupine nature now, but he still has urges, and sometimes, they’re uncontrollable. And that means bloodshed is guaranteed.
Where this moves away from the simple trappings of these tales, is in how well it ties into the lore that Nick has created so far. The first few chapters do a great job of reintroducing us to the key events of the series, as well as throwing us into the more animalistic side of Nick’s writing. This isn’t a straight forward story, it’s a larger universe that Nick is crafting.
That’s aided by the ongoing storyline regarding Hell and Death too, and how it all ties together with Nick’s life. Sure, werewolves and vampires are the main focus in terms of dark entities, but there’s more to it. In particular, I was happy to see a púca making an appearance. If you’re a fan of Celtic folklore – or rarely used creatures – that’ll be a fun inclusion for you too.
In terms of our lead character, I felt that he maybe didn’t get the same level of personal growth that he had in the first two books. That’s not really a bad thing here though. Like I said, the Hell/Death arc is an interesting one. Plus, he gets a bittersweet reunion with a friendly face here and that forces him to face up to not only the downside of his wolf side but also the dangers his existence poses.
The setting is also fun, with the book making it very clear that there was a video game influence to the setup. With Nick being trapped in an enclosed area rather than having a whole world run through though, we get to see him dealing with a different situation than the one he’s used to. The book ahs a couple genuinely amusing moments too, from Captain Zeerin’s misunderstanding of what D&D is to a certain character’s views on Nick’s state of undress.
In terms of negatives, this will come down to personal taste. As was the case with books 1 and 2, this is grisly. If gore doesn’t work for you, you’ll want to avoid it. There is also the issue of animal killing. It’s framed here as a mercy, and revenge for the death does come to pass, but again, if this sits badly with you, it may prove problematic.
Overall, this was another easy read. It offers a combination of memorable characters, some fun paranormal antics, and a hefty dose of gore. If you prefer your werewolves brutal rather than romantic, this is well worth a shot! 4 out of 5.