Travis Luedke's The Shepherd offers hope to horror fans weary of the pale, recycled horror populating the current market.
One of the coolest things as a reader is finding a new author and watching him grow. In the 80's, I was was lucky enough to discover Dean Koontz before he hit it big. I watched as he improved with each novel until he became the household name he is today.
I get the sense that Travis Luedke is on the same path.
The Shepherd is his newest novel and it is definitely his strongest. The plot is tightly woven, wasting no space on unnecessary filler.
The lead character, Mike Evans, has a crystal clear voice. Readers will get a sense of his personality from the first page. He's 16 from a less-than-ideal home who meets a mysterious young girl named Nadia who changes his life. There is more to Nadia than meets the eye. There is a twist in the middle which I won't spoil for you. Thankfully, unlike so many other writers, Luedke does not bash you over the head with clues. The secret is fun and completely obvious only upon reflection. Much like the twist in The Sixth Sense, I was expecting the story to go one way. Then it went somewhere completely different.
I couldn't be happier.
The Shepherd reminds me very much of a good Richard Laymon story. If you're a horror fan and not familiar with Richard Laymon, I strongly recommend you check him out.
Laymon was called "Stephen King without a conscious" (The Only Known TV Interview with Richard Laymon). Dean Koontz said of Laymon "No one writes like Laymon, and you're going to have a good time with anything he writes." When Richard Laymon was at his best, he mixed sexuality, tension, and the supernatural better than anyone else.
Travis Luedke is a fine successor to Laymon although he never devolves in to the pure pornography Laymon was prone to. Instead, he delivers one of the best horror novels in recent history.
This is Luedke's 5th published novel. If he continues to improve his craft at this pace, I'm very excited to see where he will take us in the future.
Link: Richard Laymon Official Website
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