Tom and Lovey: Under the Moon Into the Wood
by G. R. Jerry
BookVenture Publishing LLC

"Tom raised his cup. He was certain that Lovey’s time would come. He was bound, obligated to help Lovey. He was also bound to make certain that Stargut’s time would also come."

Evil lurks within the rural, Midwestern Village of Wrong. In a place that doesn’t exist on any map, a woman named Lovey mourns the loss of Bill, a man dead for ten years at the hand of the brutal Sheriff Harrigut, also known as Stargut. She has nothing except the farmland where she lives and works as well as the memories and thoughts she keeps in her journal. She holds fast to her solemn vow to avenge Bill’s mysterious and untimely death. He was put to death for the crime of hitting and killing a deer with his car because in the Village of Wrong the killing of animals is forbidden. They are “friends of the wood” and staunchly protected by Stargut and his followers.

A stranger named Tom appears one day at Lovey’s doorstep, injured with a silver crucifix of mystical power. It is unknown where Tom comes from or why he’s here, but the two forge a friendship that runs deep, and he vows to help Lovey avenge Bill’s death. They both know and understand the true, demonic nature of Stargut and the source of all that is wrong in Wrong. But Tom’s fight is a very old fight: his own need to avenge his parents’ savage death by a fell man with a thirst for blood. As Tom and Lovey risk their safety to stop Stargut’s plan to create the perfect man-beast, Lovey’s friend, Patty, succumbs to a trance-like existence under Stargut’s control. She steals away into the woods at night and loses all memory of anything she’s done by morning. Tom and Lovey witness strange incidents, such as the birth of a coyote from Hell and the strange fire-pit rituals conducted by Stargut and his clan near a creek in the woods with a watery portal to the underworld. Then Patty breaks free of her mind-numbing spell and joins Tom and Lovey in their fight against Stargut that takes them literally to the depths of Hell.

In the vein of Joe Hill’s Horns, Jerry’s novel is a dark, supernatural tale of fantasy, love, and spirituality that examines universal themes of man versus nature and evil versus good. Where Jerry’s narrative stands out is with his villain, Stargut, a truly sinister presence that leaves one in awe of his devilish power. He is a beastly man with “Red-Orange pupils whose shadow blends into the dark of night.” There is no lack of Jerry’s visceral descriptions peppered throughout of the Devil incarnate, like his “methodical beat” of hard boots and his transformation into a beast that sprouts “long thick dark brown hair, almost black” from his spine.

While Stargut is the undeniable villain of the novel, Tom serves well as the protagonist and foil to Stargut. His backstory adds a nice, richly layered dimension to his character that the others, unfortunately, do not get. We fully understand what compels Tom in this fight against Stargut. His is a story that almost makes for another novel in itself. Lovey is not as well-developed as Tom, but at rare moments she shines alongside or independent of him. In fact, when encountering Lovey, one might perhaps recall Charlaine Harris’s character Sookie Stackhouse, a sweet, sassy girl who fights crime among men and monsters. Like Sookie, Lovey has supernatural powers such as the ability to hear and commune with Bill without understanding why. Like Hamlet’s ghost, she heeds the otherworldly guidance in avenging a wrongful death. Meanwhile, Patty serves as a stark reminder of Stargut’s demonic powers and control of the village.

Jerry’s novel opens strong, introducing its pivotal characters and setting the stage for the coming battle of good versus evil. The most compelling moments of the overall narrative are in Stargut’s storyline, Tom’s past life, and his fight against evil with Lovey. Through this, a thrilling tale emerges. By its end, there is a definite possibility of other novels to follow with hints of a series. This should leave fans eager for more.

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