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Reviewed by Lee Ashford for Readers' Favorite
Night of the Chupacabra by Michael Hebler is Book One of the Chupacabra Series. I have long been fascinated by the legendary Chupacabra, or “goat-sucker”, and have had my own impression of what it looks like. Hebler has created a new (to me) “monster” that consists of evil spirits called forth by an Indian Shaman seeking revenge for some slight or injury. The evil spirits all combined into a single Evil Spirit, which then usurped the body of the Shaman and morphed into a red-eyed being capable of running on two legs or four, at lightning-like speeds, to suck all the blood from its victims through a hollow tongue. In this scenario, there exists only a single Chupacabra at any given time. When that being is killed, the evil spirit enters the body of another to usurp control once again.
In Night of the Chupacabra, the contemporaneous Chupacabra attacked a wagon train bound for San Francisco, killing almost everybody, excepting a woman and her daughter who ran away into the desert, and a badly burned man who was nursed back to health by a small band of Indians who were hunting the Chupacabra. This man, Drake Byrne, was the spouse and father of the mother and daughter who escaped. He spent several years following tenuous leads, in an attempt to relocate his wife, Lucy, and daughter, Jessica. The bulk of this story takes place in Dillmore Valley. It is in Dillmore Valley that Drake’s journey comes to an end. At the same time, Dillmore Valley also comes to an end.
Michael Hebler has created the quintessential Western town of the post-Civil War era, complete with dishonest Sheriff, power-wielding Madam of the house of ill repute, and unrepentant lawbreakers who had the Sheriff’s blessing to do pretty much as they pleased. Hebler’s description of the original wagon train attack is painfully believable. Drake Byrne, whose face was horribly disfigured from the fire that ultimately destroyed the wagon train, rode into town following another lead that his wife might have come to Dillmore Valley. His reception was not pleasant, and Hebler did a superb job of elucidating that fact.
Night of the Chupacabra is an action-packed amalgam of the Western, Paranormal and Horror genres. Not unlike most other very good books, it is difficult to put down before you have finished reading. I strongly recommend this book to anybody who enjoys any of the genres mentioned above. I also anxiously await the release of Book Two, titled Curse of the Chupacabra.