Short Take: “Crota,” Owl Goingback

Pros: Engaging creature-feature
Rating: 5 out of 5

CROTA is Owl Goingback’s short novel about a very fierce, old monster that emerges near a small town after an earthquake. Sheriff Skip has a run-in with it, but his second-in-command Lloyd refuses to believe it’s anything stranger than a bear. Game warden and shaman Jay Little Hawk finds its lair, has a vision of what exactly it is, and tries to warn Lloyd. Lloyd heads off into the caverns trusting that a gun can take down anything–and he’s very, very wrong. Soon Skip teams up with Jay and another, very old, shaman who has a reputation for being able to help with anything. Will it be enough to take on the Crota?

This is a great classic creature-feature horror novel. There are some not-very-likable people to see get killed. There are chills and thrills. There are some very nicely-detailed Indigenous ceremonies and legends that go into this. There’s a bizarre monster, and some satisfying blood and gore (content note for animal harm and death).

The narration is very vivid–it’s easy to picture what’s going on. The characters are interesting and have some depth to them. Even though we didn’t see her much I particularly liked Skip’s wife–for having so few paragraphs devoted to her, she has a surprising amount of personality.

I was a little disappointed that Skip’s disabled son had so little to do with the story, particularly given how things ended up (trying not to spoil anything here), but that was a minor issue. All in all this is a very satisfying horror tale.

Terror is a very personal thing.

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