Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Review: Hunter's Moon by Don Hoesel

Hunter's Moon
by Don Hoesel
Release Date: Feb. 1, 2010
2010 Bethany House
Softcover Edition; 385 Pages
ISBN: 978-0-7642-0561-3
Genre: General Fiction
Source: Review Copy from Bethany House

4 / 5 Stars

Bestselling novelist CJ Baxter has made a career out of writing hard-hitting stories ripped from his own life.  Still, there's one story from his past he's never told.  One secret that's remained buried for decades.

Now, seventeen years after swearing he'd never return, CJ is headed back to adelia, NY.  His life in Tennesse has fallen to pieces, his grandfather is dying, and CJ can no longer run from the past.

With Graham Baxter, CJ's brother, running for Senate, a black sheep digging up old family secrets is the last thing the family and campaign can afford.  CJ soon discovers that blood may be thicker than water, but it's no match for power and money.

My Thoughts
When I first started this novel, I really didn't know what to think as the events began somewhat slowly and the author spent a lot of time describing CJ's background and getting the reader acquainted with the town and some of the quirks of the town and its various characters.  I didn't even particularly like the main character, CJ, at the beginning as I found him disagreeable and disgruntled, quick to anger and angry at the world he was allotted.  But as I delved into the novel, the town, the characters, the storyline, his dog Thor, eveything grew on me and I really enjoyed the novel, the characters and a storyline I wasn't expecting.

Part of the problem was my own expectations of the novel and I think the summary at the back was misleading.  What this novel turned out to be, rather than a real suspense novel, was a novel about a man returning to his childhood home and dealing with some major issues from his childhood.  It was about him finding forgiveness and coming to the realization that he has to forgive himself and let go in order to move on in life and that he can't live with all this anger inside him and expect to live a happy and contented life.  It was about self-reflection and coming to terms with childhood issues and growing up, knowing how important family is in your life, but at the same time, moving on.  There was a lot of philosophical reflection that gave me pause and made me reflect on my own life as well.  I particularly like it when Artie tells CJ that he can't let anger control his life and that he can only move on when he lets go of that anger and finds forgiveness, but the only person who can do that is himself.  Very deep stuff.

As for the plot itself, while there were some interesting twists and turns, things that I wasn't expecting, for the most part it was fairly predictable.  One of my biggest complaints about the novel is that the big issue over the jails and the political implications and political scandal didn't go anywhere, but there were consequences for the people involved anyways.  The reader never really learned what those political implications were and I really wanted to know;  overhyped without going anywhere, but some characters almost lost their lives over it.  That really bothered me.

I liked how Mr. Hoesel included some secondary themes in this novel though, such as spousal abuse and alcoholism and infidelity.  It gave room for some of the secondary characters to develop and I really enjoyed the interactions and the various relationships between the family members.  Mr. Hoesel definitely knows how to let his characters develop and shine in his novels.

Hunter's Moon was a good story, an interesting study of the dynamics of a small town and families that have interacted for years, but also of the damage that secrets and hiding and blame can do to those families over the years.  It's also a story of 'what if', but one that makes you feel good as you realize that you make choices in life that effect everone around you and shape your path in life, a path that can never be trod again.  I look forward to reading more novels by this author.


  1. Stephanie - Thanks for taking the time to read and review Hunter's Moon. I really appreciate the kind words.