Reviewed by Dale Lewis
Hunter's Moon by Don Hoesel
"Hunter’s Moon is a slower-paced tale when compared to Hoesel’s first novel, Elisha’s Bones, and yet the word pictures are richly fulfilling."
A messy character fresh
in his faith walk, CJ is a likable protagonist. He’s facing a divorce,
assault charges and return to his hometown of Adelia in upstate New York.
A hometown burdened with family secrets.
One in particular he had avoided for 17 years until his grandfather’s
funeral. CJ faces Graham, his ruthless, polished brother who's making a
bid for the Senate. At the same time, the extended family is not overly
thrilled about CJ’s return. They fear CJ could do damage to Graham’s
campaign and the family name, due in part to CJ's veiled exposition of
their lives in his novels.
Hunter’s Moon is a slower-paced tale when compared to Hoesel’s first novel, Elisha’s Bones, and yet the word pictures are richly fulfilling. Two examples: “All he knew was that he was a cistern filled with words and that he had to get them out, and the faster he wrote the quicker he emptied. And he had to reach empty” and “The woods took the words and swallowed them up, and if either they or Eddie was inclined to grant any kind of forgiveness, they kept it to themselves.”
Almost surreal, the small town setting is superbly crafted as the perfect background to the haunting darkness of CJ’s personal journey. Going back in time to provide links to the present posed no problem for Hoesel in his sophomore effort. Often you’ll laugh and cringe at the same time.
The dialogue rings incredibly true and the dysfunctional, tension-filled tendencies of the Baxter family scream loud and clear within these pages. The scene involving Graham's personal threat toward a younger CJ is frightening and the resulting fear is believable. Strained relationships abound and provide depth to the storyline, yet the sweet sounds of redemption are unmistakable.
My only disappointment was I felt the conclusion was incomplete with too many unanswered questions that begged to be resolved or at the least, given more information to help satisfy the curious reader. The vagueness of the last line continues to bother me but not enough to avoid recommending this excellent novel. Many of you will become fans of Don Hoesel after reading Hunter’s Moon.