Wendigo Fever – Warden #1 – Kevin Hardman
Part lawman, part tracker and part magician, the Wardens are monster-hunters – tasked with protecting the people from the various, nightmarish creatures that have invaded the world of men. However, despite being descended from a long line of Wardens, 16-year-old Errol Magnus believes it to be the absolute worst job on the planet: How could a single occupation simultaneously be the most boring, abominably stupid and extraordinarily dangerous profession imaginable?
But when his older brother Tom – the current Warden for their region – goes missing, Errol has no choice but to enter the Badlands, where monsters abide in mind-boggling numbers, to find him. During his search, Errol crosses paths with – and finds himself stalked by – the legendary Wendigo, a monster with preternatural strength and speed, as well as enhanced senses of sight, smell and hearing…and an insatiable hunger for human flesh.
Now Errol must do the impossible and not only escape from the monster (something no one has ever done before), but also avoid the unearthly legacy it leaves on all its victims – a terrifying curse known as Wendigo Fever.
Enjoyable, but far too short a story to really call this a book. Wendigo Fever feels more like a small peek into a bigger tale that has some potential. Errol is a teenage boy who lives with his brother Tom, in a world where magical creatures are everyday business. Most of these creatures aren’t the good kind however and Errol and his brother have the job to protect the people from these monsters. They live right outside the Badlands, the most dangerous part of the country. You’d think hunting monsters and being some kind of hero would be a teenage boy’s dream, but for Errol it’s not. He doesn’t want to take that responsibility. In his own words: “How could a single occupation simultaneously be the most boring, abominably stupid and extraordinarily dangerous profession imaginable?”
The book starts off on a funny note, giving us more insight in what Wardens are all about as Errol tries to handle one of the monsters. I liked the idea of using some sort of magic, more particularly drawing “Wards” to handle these creatures. As it turns out, Errol isn’t really that good yet in doing the Warden job. Not long after first failure his brother leaves on some sort of mission and fails to show up again. Reluctantly Errol takes over his job and tries to help a nearby family with some kind of ghost. But then someone shows up claiming that Tom was supposed to come by his house but never showed up. Getting worried now, Errol decides to try and find his brother.
This is where the story takes a turn from funny and magical to creepy and gory. Along the way Errol finds a cabin full of body parts. The cabin belongs to a Wendigo and unfortunately Errol awakens the monster that promptly starts stalking him. A Wendigo isn’t your regular monster, it’s a cursed, man-eating beast that will stalk and play with its pray until it’s so paranoid it will literally walk into his arms. This paranoia and the associated hallucinations are called Wendigo Fever. I really liked the constant tension of the beast stalking them, the fear and anticipation for when it will shows itself again.
The only things I missed here were real character depth and a longer story. It really was too short for the potential that it has and I think the characters would also have benefitted from a 100-something pages more. I now have a superficial idea of how the characters think, what their characteristics are, but I could have used more. Especially as I put so much importance on connecting with the characters in the book I’m reading.
I enjoyed the story very much, the way it started off rather light and then turned into a real horror/suspense story was a nice surprise and I also liked the idea of the Wardens and the different monsters roaming about in this new fictional world. I maybe also missed a little more worldbuilding, but yet again, in a hundred pages you can’t really be that elaborate about the world. I think we got a decent view of the Badlands and some of the lands on the periphery, where Errol lives. But I am a needy girl and I would have loved to see more, to experience more.
Overall, I would say this is a story with a lot potential, but that misses some things to really become a book that leaves an impression.