Tuesday, December 25, 2012

♥♥♥♥♥♥: Bitten by Dan O'Brien and Giveaway!

Bitten (Lauren Westlake Mysteries #1)
Dan O'Brien

Page Count: 274
Release Date: 16 April, 2012
Publisher: self-published
Source: Complimentary copy provided by author in exchange for an honest and unbiased review (thank you!)

A predator stalks a cold northern Minnesotan town. There is talk of wolves walking on two legs and attacking people in the deep woods. Lauren Westlake, resourceful and determined FBI Agent, has found a connection between the strange murders in the north and a case file almost a hundred years old. Traveling to the cold north, she begins an investigation that spirals deep into the darkness of mythology and nightmares. Filled with creatures of the night and an ancient romance, the revelation of who hunts beneath the moon is more grisly than anyone could have imagined.


I reviewed O'Brien's The Journey back in July, and while it didn't exactly strike my fancy, I decided to give the author another try with this one. Bitten flows in a slightly different vein, with the same eerie glow, but a more developed plot, cast, and structure that made it way more enjoyable.

The victim toll of brutal, violent murders is rising in the previously quiet and uneventful town of Locke, Minnesota, and federal agent, Lauren Westlake, arrives, determined to find out who—or what—is behind the random slaughters. While she is unfamiliar with small, cold Locke, the town regulars are convinced that there has got to be something beyond government measure responsible for the uncorrelated events... a conviction Lauren, herself, soon painfully discovers.

As far as horror literature goes, O'Brien has a direct, unabashed writing style that is descriptive, shocking, and just detached enough to be highly appropriate for the content conveyed. It is, however, too choppy at times, and the author seems to have a bit of an aversion to contractions, which made Bitten overall a difficult read. Vocabulary- and structure-wise, the book is pretty minimalist, but because of the unclear and unkempt writing, you have to trudge through this one.

The characters are too disinterested and flat for me to have felt anything while reading. While there is a bit of romance, nothing really stirred inside of me because of how unfamiliar I was with the involved parties, even by the end of the book. The poor characterization certainly detracts from my enjoyment of the novel, but its mystery/thriller elements prove that it is primarily plot-driven, which makes up for lack of persona somewhat.

My biggest problem with this book is the stilted dialogue, which branches off of poor characterization and goes hand-in-hand with the contraction-less diction. If the way characters think and talk just doesn't seem realistic to me, there is a 100% chance I will pick it apart. Let me tell you: "I am not sure that it would be the best idea..." is a severely outdated, awkward, and yes, awkwardly outdated, way for anyone to speak in any modern era. Bitten is completely composed of sentences like that, which, if you're like me and enjoy REAL dialogue, may have you tearing your hair out by the roots after a while.

I'm not completely ripping Bitten apart, though. I was impressed with O'Brien's ability to carry out a dark, sensual undertone throughout the entire novel. I couldn't turn one page without a sense of foreboding, of unease, and that kind of effect on a reader is quite an achievement. The aspect of werewolves is fresh, too. Bitten does not have your typical romanticized shapeshifter/alpha-male hero; instead, we've got a creepy, gruesome, and completely uncensored monster roaming about—the original werewolf.


"We let others complicate our lives. We choose to live that way. We choose to include people in our lives."


Hint of romance // Vividly and gruesomely descriptive // Dark, foreboding mood // Highly thrilling and shocking // Creative incorporation of werewolves


No contractions found anywhere // Very choppy, difficult style // Unsatisfying ending // Lots of typos // Stiff, unrealistic dialogue // Flat, shallow characters // Slow-moving


Aside from the undeveloped cast of characters and disconnected style, Bitten is a promising story that will appeal to lovers of shapeshifters, literary horror—the good ol' blood and guts—and mystery. A decent read, Bitten is a werewolf novel with serious bite!

6 hearts: Satisfying for a first read, but I'm not going back. ♥♥♥♥♥♥


Dan has generously offered one copy each of The Journey and Bitten for you pretty readers today. That's two winners total! To enter the giveaway, fill out the Rafflecopter form below:
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Giveaway ends January 9th at 11.59 EST (your time).
Open to US residents only. Sorry, international!
Winners have 48 hours to claim their prize once they are chosen, or else their prizes will be forfeited.
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Good luck!