Score: 93+/100 (9.3+ out of 10)
This book is, quite simply, so much dumb fun!
And we mean that in the most flattering way possible. It's like a summer popcorn flick, action film, or monster movie—it's not intended to be deep, emotional, and involving, it's intended to be cool, fun, thrilling, and entertaining.
We love kaiju (strange/giant monsters). It was a huge part of many of our childhoods, growing up with Godzilla, Gamera, Jurassic Park, Pokemon etc. It's a genre that's near and dear to our hearts. Furthermore, we clearly love cryptids and mythical creatures, as seen in many of the previous books we've applauded over the years like The Dragon in the Closet and Frederick Moody and the Secrets of the Six Summit Lake.
There's something about these mysterious, legendary creatures that just captures the mind and the imagination like nothing else.
This book, Kaw Lake, was written for people like us. We were so happy and delighted to read and be a part of this. Overall, this was the best experience we've had in reading books by Ethan Richards (we've read all of the Dark Elf of Oklahoma series).
Something the author does very well from the get-go is establish the idea that anyone can die or be horribly maimed at any time. We get introduced to characters only to immediately have them be mutilated and devoured by a mysterious and very terrifying sea creature.
If giant predatory animals like snakes and sharks give you the heebie jeebies, this will make you jump out of your chair and give you goosebumps! In fact, a lot of this book reminded us of a mixture of Jaws, Anaconda, and Jurassic Park.
Now, what really surprised us about this book is that despite it being called Kaw Lake and the first major monster being a lake monster, there are actually quite a few monsters in this book, many of whom are terrestrial or airborne. These range from Rodan-like winged beasts, dinosaurs like velociraptors (yes, really), deinonychus, and even a mosasaurus!
Now, where this book kinda lost us is when it started incorporating an alien-invasion/sci-fi sub-plot involving Replicators that mimic these sorts of creatures. It also started incorporating a lot of the same things and characters/archetypes as The Dark Elf of Oklahoma and The Dark Lord of Oklahoma. If there was one book by an author that needed to stand alone and be completely separate and unrelated to their other works, it's this book.
Thankfully, it's not all bad. The incredibly awesome AA-12 auto-shotgun from those books makes a reappearance! And it's even more useful and active in this book!
Another thing that's interesting and cool is that when a character loses his legs but is given stronger ones, he begins to talk about some other things that gets our testosterone pumping: Ronnie Coleman, Franco Columbu, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and deadlifting 700+ lbs.
This really is a man's book!
Now, really quickly, one thing we didn't like was that the author—like so many fiction authors—could not pass up the temptation to link this compelling, fictitious story to World War II. It just seems so cliché at this point, like everyone tries to do that. How many mythical origin stories for 20th century fascists do we need? Seriously!
But we digress.
This is the best book by Ethan Richards so far!
You can check it out on Amazon!