cover image Lupus Rex

Lupus Rex

John Carter Cash. Rebellion/Ravenstone (S&S, dist.), $16.99 (256p) ISBN 978-1-78108-114-3

Nature is indeed red in tooth and claw in this epic animal adventure, musician and picture book author Cash's fiction debut. Reminiscent of the Redwall books and Watership Down, the story follows a variety of woodland creatures who are swept up in a brutal territorial dispute after the death of the King Crow leads to a power vacuum. While the crows descend into civil war, a ruthless wolf leads an army of predators in an attempt to seize power. Meanwhile, a small group of quail set out to find allies, including a legendary yet terrifying hawk, leading to an all-out battle for supremacy that will claim innumerable lives. Cash writes with an almost poetic style, his narrative mythic in scope and tone, though occasionally prone to purple prose. Furthermore, his musical background shows in the form of the rich oral tradition practiced by several species, even if some of the songs can come close to doggerel. It's a strong story with a high body count, some graphic scenes of animal-on-animal violence, and a sprawling cast. Ages 8%E2%80%93up. (June)