Book Review: That Thing at the Zoo by: James R. Tuck


Kensington Books

Publish Date:
January 27, 2012

From Author for Review


Synopsis: Something is killing animals at the zoo. Deacon is called in to investigate. He finds an evil, ancient and unseen for decades. An evil that will push him to the limits of his endurance before the night is over.

And then things will really go to hell.

Review: We are introduced to Deacon Chalk, an occult bounty hunter, in That Thing at the Zoo. He is a badass anti-hero with a good reason to be hunting the monsters that lurk in the shadows. Weaving words deftly together to paint an eerily realistic picture of the gritty night, Mr. Tuck has created a world populated with the weird, evil, and macabre. Slightly reminiscent of other great anti-heroes, Deacon Chalk stands out from the crowd. Great dialogue and action pounds out of the pages to grab you by the throat! That Thing at the Zoo is the start of something exceptional!

Deacon Chalk: Occult Bounty Hunter Series: That Thing at the Zoo (Novella), Blood and Bullets (1), Blood and Silver (2)

: I moved away from the wall. My legs made long strides across the grass, the smell of piss fading as I walked. Jimmy the zookeeper hustled to catch up with me. He was breathing hard by the time he did, doing a jog-step to keep pace.
    “What the hell are you doin’ now?”
    “We need some bait. This thing likes to swoop down and grab its victim.”
    “But you had me lock up all the animals so they would be safe from it.”
    Listening to the night air, not looking at him, I drew out the Bowie knife. “I know.”
    “So what are you gonna use for bait?”

    “Us.” The silver edge gleamed in the full moonlight as I laid it against the skin of my forearm. I keep my knives sharp so there was only a thin flash of burn as I drew it across my arm. The tattooed skin parted, blood welling up behind the slice of the blade. I didn’t cut deep, but it bled freely, running red rivulets down my arm, filling my palm, and dripping off my fingers.

    A flick of my hand sent droplets of my blood arcing out onto the grass around us. I try to keep my blood. Too many things out there can use your blood to harm you, but once it hits the earth its magickal properties are grounded out unless it is being used in ritual. This wasn’t ritual; it was bait. Chum in the water so to speak. The cut stopped bleeding, so I wiped the blood off on my jeans.

    I turned to Jimmy the zookeeper. “Get ready. I don’t think it will be long.” No, not long at all. The hair on my arms was standing on end, static electricity crackling between each one like tiny Tesla coils. My ability to sense supernatural stuff was wide open and I could feel something coming closer. In my mind’s theater I felt leather and fur rub along the inside of my skin. A crunchy taste filled my mouth, sucking out all the moisture, like eating too much roasted coconut. Whatever we were after was headed our way.

    Something flashed into existence over the scent mark on the wall, moving so quick and silent it seemed to appear from thin air. It was black against the white-washed wall, hanging by a hooked claw. I heard it draw a long inhale through its lungs. It snorted and shook its head, not liking that its scent mark had been desecrated. One inhumanly quick pull swung it to the top of the wall where it squatted, a dark shape against the low moon.

    Its head swung slowly from the left to the right, mouth open, breathing in the night scent through glistening fangs. Large triangular ears ran from cheekbones to the top of its flattened skull. A low screech followed the turn of its head, like the rusty screen door on Hell. Its face came around to our direction, low cry vibrating my skin with sound waves. They passed over me as it continued to turn its head. Immediately that monstrous face snapped back towards us and snarled. Red eyes glowed with a satanic light, throwing ruby highlights across a flattened snout and curving wet teeth.

    The beast rose, standing on the wall. Clawed arms whipped over its head. The moonlight glowed through thin membrane wings that stretched from knotted hands to cadaverous waist, black veins traced through in relief. One wing was torn, a rip in its center that the moon shone through. It was covered in patches of greasy rat fur, glistening in the night. Where it had skin, it was bare and mottled gray. Anatomy showed it was female, breasts hanging pendulous in a mockery of womanhood. It once was human. It once was alive. Now it was neither. I knew exactly what we were up against.

    Pulling down on the slide, I checked the shotgun to make sure there was a shell in the chamber.
    Bring it on, bitch. 


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