Albrim’s Curse by Trevis Powell

8/10 The story is perfect, the characters well defined and the time period well researched.

All young Albrim wanted to be was a master bowman like his father. Then a savage attack on his home cost him his family, his arm, and his humanity - all at once! Crippled and contaminated by the Curse, his beloved Gran leaves him in the care of Mute, a giant warrior dedicated to protecting humanity from the depredations of the Quarg. Albrim does what he can to assist his master and redeem himself. But can a werewolf ever really recapture his humanity?

A town in peril of beasts in the woods introduces young Albrim, a boy who wants to be just like his father, a master bowman but instead he becomes embroiled in the mystery surrounding the ferocious beasts that are prowling and terrorising their town. Build as the beginning of the Were-War series; Gran's Secret being the one after this and out in September this year. It brings the lead character Albrim into the spotlight when what they towns folk think is another sheep attack becomes more dangerous.

The cover by TSR aficionado Jeff Easley gives the reader as good a clue as to what to expect from this book with the appearance of the werewolf in all its gory glory slavering and pushing its way through the door at Albrim while his Gran shrieks in the corner, even though it starts frightening enough.

The newcomers to the town are welcomed when they discover they are the lawgivers who have come to rid them of the wolf terror that has struck the place subtly named Cobble. Though the name might sound normal the life there is certainly not dull. Albrim's Gran is convinced the enemy will savage and kill the sheep, then them all, but the men who have come to save their town do not share their views as they plan how best to tackle the beasts head on. A few decide to stay behind to protect the folk there, Sir Garen and his fawning subordinate Yogarn make sure they stay but that does not seem to settle Gran's mind one bit. And with twenty-eight warriors in a stand against the beasts they had better be good enough in combat.

Arrangements are made to go out with the warriors and get provisions for their trip into the danger zone, many have only been wolfing to prevent the beasts from damaging the homes, crops and livestock, this time their wolfing skills are called into play as they have to battle against a different kind of beast, a man-killer who is relentless and dangerous as a mysterious beast can be.

Set in medieval times, the novel is convincing enough to convey the peril the main characters are in, but no less so for young Albrim who later is mauled and left helpless after he is attacked by a wolf beast and cursed ever after, his Gran has him cared for by Mute a warrior who protects him from the beasts who they find out are called Quarg. The curse is now that Albrim has been injured by the beast he will become Quarg himself. He goes through life with the feelings normally associated with grief over the loss of the whole of his self as he is now part wolf. His life is completely transformed from humble beginnings with his Gran to terror and the danger of his eventually killing those he loves.

The characters are solid and believable in different ways. Albrim is an impatient boy who learns that his village once quiet and serene, though poor bears a hidden threat that turns his life upside down, yet making a man of him in the process. Gran is always the pessimist fearing the worst like an old soothsayer preaching nothing but doom and despair even when the other characters can actually handle the situations they come across. She constantly moans about their predicament, proving herself to be right as the story goes on.

Trevis Powell lives and works in Kentucky, his writing talent took him to write for Elmore Productions and later finding his work in various magazines and in gaming materials. Drawing more from his stories he established new characters, making them more detailed and moved onto writing novels instead which took him to the heights of Blackwyrm Fiction and this first book.

It has to be said the setting of the story is perfect, the characters well defined and the time period well researched by the author. The reader will hardly be able to contain themselves when waiting for the next volume.

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