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Warrener's Beastie
William R. Trotter
Avalon, 686 pages

Warrener's Beastie
William R. Trotter
William R. Trotter was born in Charlotte, North Carolina. At the age of fourteen he wrote his first novel, Glorious October (unpublished) about the Hungarian revolution of 1956. He married his second wife, pianist Elizabeth Lustig, in 1983. They have one son together and one son each from previous marriages. Trotter and Lustig published The Northstate Reader monthly tabloid from 1981 to 1984. They live in Greensboro, North Carolina.

William R. Trotter Website
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A review by Donna McMahon

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Ever since he travelled to the remote, haunting Faeroe Islands as a young man, Allen Warrener has longed to return. He's obsessed in equal measure by the beautiful young woman he fell in love with, the failure of his own ambitious dreams, and a legendary sea monster.

It isn't until he's a middle-aged, divorced professor of History that he gets his chance to go back -- as part of a filmmaking expedition organized by his friend, porn millionaire Preston Valentine, and bankrolled by Eiden Poulsen, a Faeroese millionaire. Poulson, like Warrener, is convinced that a sea monster lurks in the depths off the Faeroe Islands, and will risk almost anything to prove it.

The plot of Warrener's Beastie isn't much more complicated than that, but William R. Trotter manages to spin it into a 686-page doorstop of a trade paperback. It's capably written, with vivid settings, but whether you'll want to stick this book out is purely a matter of taste.

Trotter believes in background. We meet his protagonist, Allen Warrener, as a pre-schooler and follow him through each year of his life -- all the way to middle age. We also get reams of background on half a dozen other characters -- their families, sex lives, divorces, etc. The writing is good enough to carry us along, but I started to tire of the slow build-up well before the monster-hunting expedition was finally launched around page 250.

By far the most compelling character in this book is the Faeroe Islands themselves. Trotter's atmospheric descriptions of this harshly beautiful land and seascape are enough to get you hunting out maps and thinking of travel plans. Trotter makes it amply believable that a sea monster might lurk in these cold, remote seas even at the end of the twentieth century.

Apart from the monster, which Trotter handles well, the Fantasy elements of this novel mainly involve a sort of ESP that connects certain people to the mysterious beast. As a plot device I found it shopworn and yawn-worthy.

What ultimately sank this book for me, however, was the protagonists -- a bunch of shallow, self-absorbed Baby Boomers whose only reaction to a crisis (personal or life-threatening) is to get drunk, take a bunch of pills, and screw. With nobody in this puerile crowd to like, never mind empathize with, I soon starting rooting for the monster.

If you can stomach the unremittingly male adolescent tone of this tome, you may enjoy it; I found it irritating and unrewarding.

Copyright © 2007 Donna McMahon

Donna McMahon discovered science fiction in high school and fandom in 1977, and never recovered. Dance of Knives, her first novel, was published by Tor in May, 2001, and her book reviews won an Aurora Award the same month. She likes to review books first as a reader (Was this a Good Read? Did I get my money's worth?) and second as a writer (What makes this book succeed/fail as a genre novel?). You can visit her website at http://www.donna-mcmahon.com/.


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