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  • Writer's pictureTabitha Tomala

Hybrid by James Marshall Smith Book Review

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Hybrid by James Marshall Smith Book Review
Hybrid by James Marshall Smith

Book Review

After the loss of his wife, Dieter Harmon moves his family to Montana to start over. But as he begins to build his veterinarian business, he’ll find there’s something amiss at the local ranches. Vicious animal attacks are claiming livestock. Ranchers are convinced the Yellowstone wolves are to blame. When Dieter happens upon the body of a photographer near the national park, he begins to side with the ranchers. The further Dieter becomes involved in the investigation, the closer he comes to becoming a prime suspect on Jack Corey’s list. And Chief Park Ranger Jack Corey will do anything to make sure his wolves aren’t to blame.

James Marshall Smith chose the perfect point in history to introduce this story. Hybrid is set during the early days of the Yellowstone Wolf Project. Not only was he able to build into the story fear of the unknown monster, but he also drew in political apprehension from ranchers and families living near Yellowstone. Together these two elements created a solid story and connected to character actions.

And the fear of the unknown monster isn't the only thing that makes this a horror novel. The livestock kills were brutal. Listening to the audiobook, each description turned my stomach. There were moments I had to pause the book. When introduced to the creature actively hunting humans, I felt the build-up of terror as it stalked them, lurking ever closer until it chose its moment to strike. Capturing the victims' last moments from their point of view was an effective way to up the horror scale.

There were parts of Hybrid I felt needed a bit more flushing out. I would have liked to see Dieter working through the loss of his wife before the beginning of this story. While his decisions surrounding his children were related to her loss, there wasn’t a lot of time spent on his emotional state. A few flashbacks and reactions were based on her death, but I felt as though it wasn't fully integrated into the story. Dieter did not evolve as a character beyond her loss due to the events of Hybrid.

The prologue is also the biggest giveaway to what is happening within Hybrid. If the prologue were to be omitted, the fear of the unknown would have been much better. There would have been an overarching mystery of supernatural versus natural. With the way Hybrid is written, readers can easily put together conclusions and know what is occurring. But take the prologue away and readers would have been able to constantly guess if they were correct and feel more satisfied as they finally pieced together the correct answer in the end.

Hybrid focuses on the fear of the unknown, and the aptitude to blame creatures of the same species due to the actions of one. While it isn’t a fast-paced read, the pacing is consistent right until the end. I would recommend this to readers who enjoy horror novels with a literature writing style. If you enjoy Stephen King’s writing, you may also enjoy this.

To Purchase: Bookshop | Author's Website

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