John Skipp & Craig Spector’s Animals centers around the physical and emotional relationship between Syd, an emotionally battered local construction worker and Nora, a beautiful and enigmatic stranger passing through town. Nora brings Syd into a dark unknown world, but for what purpose?
“She howled tissue shredding, the meat peeling back, muscles slicing like cheese as fangs raked over bone, sending hot grinding sparks of anguish to brightly ignite the horrified brain.”
Animals is a divisive work for fans of Skipp & Spector. While some believe it to be the duo’s weakest collaboration, others such as author Brian Keene state that the book, “…spoke to me…(I) finished it in a day and then immediately read it again.” The reason for the book’s spilt among fans is very clear. Beyond the horror elements, Animals is a very honest novel about human coupling. The pros and cons of relationships are carefully examined with a refreshing honesty. The character of Nora exemplifies this perfectly. The reader recognizes her from moment one as the femme fatal arch-type, but she is shown to be more. She is a person who ultimately has very encompassing hopes and fears.
The werewolf mythology Skipp & Spector have created is unique and has not been duplicated since the book’s publication. The werewolf concept is used to explore the line separating passion from self destruction. A person can live a long healthy passionless life, but is this living? Conversely a person may allow passion to dictate their actions, but can you live like this forever? Skipp & Spector never answer this question for the reader. They present varying arguments for each expertly using the small but well developed cast of characters at their disposal.
In the end;
John Skipp & Craig Spector’s Animals is a supernatural romance novel, without any romanticized notions. It is a shockingly honest portrayal of human emotions. With a small but emotionally deep cast of characters Skipp & Spector have created a horror novel that asks for much self reflection from its readers. The novel reads at a brisk pace with an amazing climax comprised of creative and unique set pieces. The last seventy five pages read at a lighting pace. Animals is unrestrained violent and sexy read. Those looking for the extremes of human emotion and behavior would be hard pressed to find a better read.