SPFBO 7 REVIEW: Red in Tooth and Claw by Ryan Howse

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More SPFBO Shenanigans from Team Weatherdrifter!

Getting closer and closer to the end of my batch!

Soon, I’ll just need to read Esme’s semifinalists (because we all know she’ll have mine read before I even announce all of them) and then it’ll be that time again!

A brutal wilderness.

Hungry, plague-ridden animals.

A winter so cold it snaps wood.

Chemosh, a scout imprisoned by the enemy, agrees to lead the way through this wilderness for his freedom. But both his knowledge and his resilience are put to the test, not just by the wilderness, but by the chaotic, violent man he guides. A man he must rely on if they are to survive.

Red in Tooth and Claw follows two characters. First we have Chemosh, who is a young man from one of the local tribes. He recently completed the ritual in which his people consider him an adult, and due to shenanigans that happened right after that, got captured by the enemy. Agash is the heir to the throne of that enemy, which is more or less the empire that has settled in this area. When one of their outposts is attacked, he is to investigate what happened, and brings Chemosh with him to scout for the party in exchange for his freedom. Things go south pretty quickly into this adventure.

This book was very short, coming in at just about 150 pages… but wow, does it pack a story into those pages. I was on the edge of my seat for a lot of this story, as once the party reaches the outpost, the story kickstarts and never lets up. We see Chemosh and Agash thrown into a solo adventure together, trying to get back to the outpost while also trying to figure out why the animals are suffering from ‘the rot’ – a disease being passed around the wilderness that makes the animals go insane. They face off against mad bears, other tribes of varying hostility, haunted cities, raging rivers, and berserker furies… among other things.

There were several things that outright shocked me about this book, but I won’t spoil them for you. Just know that I was rather pleasantly surprised by one or two of the turns this story took. The story gets pretty gritty, dark and at times actually rather scary.

Don’t underestimate this book because it’s short, because Ryan Howse made use of every page it has to tell a gripping and really intriguing story of two men from different cultures thrust together into an unlikely adventure. I had 8.5/10 stars of a good time with Red in Tooth and Claw, and if you like dark and gritty wilderness adventures, you’ll probably dig it too.