The Original’s Retribution is the second in a series of books by talented British author, David Watkins. David is a teacher, who writes gripping stories in his spare time, and lives in Devon with his family. David has written a few stories with a short story called Presents of Mind published in a collection called When Red Snow Melts. I love that name. The first story I read of his is called The Devil’s Inn and you can read my thoughts on that thoroughly chilling story here.
I recently finished the first in the Original series, called The Original’s Return. You can read my thoughts on that gory romp here. The Original’s series is fantasy horror, revolving around werewolves and the emergence of an ancient, powerful and ruthless werewolf called an Original. The original, in this case, is actually turned into an original by way of a fall into an ancient cave where he is changed, unwillingly. The unfortunate bloke, Jack Stadler, is one of two main characters. Jack is sought by other werewolf packs who seem to partly want to worship him and appoint him their alpha, and partly want to kill him.
Jack is also sought by the military led by our other main man, Sergeant Peter Knowles. A seasoned army veteran, and his unit, who at first observe, then try to capture and end up either dead or fighting to save Jack and his family. Jack is a decent bloke. A bit of a twat at times, but by no means ready to abandon life. He has no desires to become a wild killer and leader of a violent army. He just wants to be with his wife and kid. Knowles is also a clear headed fellow and strikes up an uneasy, and unlikely, alliance with Jack. Something forced on them as they attempt to survive a brutal assault by a werewolf force intent on getting their god back, or killing him. All while Jack fights his own personal battle with the wolf inside fighting to take over.
Jack went down to the woods today…but he’s not alone!
Sergeant Peter Knowles has sworn to hunt down the remaining wolves in Britain and kill them all. He wants revenge for the massacre that took the lives of his friends. The wolf packs are scattered and scared but someone new has started to galvanise them. Someone terrifying. Someone closer to Knowles than he could ever suspect.
The Original’s Retribution starts off almost immediately after the devastating events at the end of book one. A military base full of corpses and lakes of blood, and a debriefed Knowles have kicked the army into action. Their first port of call? The cave where all of this started.
A unit has been sent there to investigate, and confirm or disprove Knowles story – maybe grab some evidence if there is any to grab. They are doubtful they will find anything, with most believing Knowles has lost the plot, or at least exaggerated his story. It is within this unit we first meet a Corporal Jamie Bryant. A seemingly normal squaddie (if there is such a thing) but one that we quickly learn may be a little unhinged.
The unit descend into the cave and they do find evidence. Of course they do. No surprise for us there. They find the alter Jack originally fell on. They find the old bones. Also, they find a werewolf skull, something ancient, but still with razor sharp teeth. After a narrow escape from the cave and it’s other dark secrets, they head back to base with the remains when Bryant does the unexpected. He purposely punctures his hand with the werewolf teeth. He turns himself.
We catch up with Knowles next as he has a run in with a guy talking to a reporter. A guy telling the reporter that the military cover story about an explosion at a base that killed many soldiers is a lie. As quick as the conversation starts, the reporter is knocked out and the stranger, a Jake Williams, is being aggressively questioned by Knowles. During the questioning Jake let’s slip that he was at the base and in the blink of an eye, Knowles blows his head off. His new unit question his reasoning and reason. They seem unsure about Knowles mental state. One of them, Phelps, reminds him they are hunting Jack, nobody else. Knowles bluntly replies “that is one less of them in the world” and leaves. Jake was a werewolf.
One of the things I enjoy most about David Watkins writing style is his ability to give a mountain of information in short, subtle sentences. Literally within a few pages of The Original’s Retribution, and without the need for dedicated back story chapters or plot explanations ,we already know that Bryant is self harming with an original’s skull, Jack is missing and Knowles is pissed off and out for retribution. It doesn’t take a genius to work out where this is going.
We catch up with Jack briefly. He is on then run with just one destination in mind. Home. He wants to see his wife and child. We also check in with his wife, Katie. Katie has been informed of Jack’s “death” but doesn’t buy the story. She saw wolves and she saw the military. She doesn’t know exactly what happened, she certainly doesn’t believe everything she saw, but she believes Jack is still alive and that maybe, just maybe, he could be a wolf.
A wolf attack in London ends up being the catalyst that kicks the story up a few gears. Bryant and Knowles are working together and Knowles becomes suspicious of him and his erratic actions. Jack, having seen his family briefly through a window, gets caught by the military at a road block. Knowles is sent to retrieve him. Back at a military base, Jack and Knowles have a frosty reunion of sorts while Bryant starts to rapidly change.
Being in the vicinity of each other, both originals are drawn to each other violently. There is some sort of vicious connection and this connection forces Bryant to change. As a new Original arrives out of Bryant, other werewolves are alerted. They start to gather, intent on finally having the alpha they desire. Bryant is less able, or less willing, to fight the change. He attacks his own squad and leaves with a small band of werewolves. The wolves had actually been looking for Jack but found something even better. A willing Original.
Bryant is on the run, a well trained vicious ultimate killing machine, with a growing army of wolves behind him. There is one issue. Bryant has come to realise that there can only be one original so he wants Jack dead. Unfortunately for poor Katie, that makes her useful to Bryant. As Bryant and his team head for Devon and Katie, leaving a trail of destruction behind them, Knowles is despatched with his own squad to hunt Bryant down. Jack also gets freed and heads off with Knowles to find Bryant, but, more importantly protect his family.
A once sleepy village in Devon is about to witness a violent and brutal clash as Bryant and his wolves line up on one side with Knowles and Jack on the other and Jack’s family in the crosshairs. In an explosive end, bodies fall at a rate that is hard to keep up with. Limbs are dismembered, lives are shattered and the streets are turned in to rivers of blood in a battle of epic proportions where only one Original can survive.
The Original’s Retribution is another really strong book with buckets of gore and a decent, but simplistic, plot that will hook you in and force you stay up way too late as you turn page after page. It doesn’t have quite the same impact as the first in the book but I think that is probably due to there not being any surprise this time round. I already know about the werewolves, the Originals, Knowles etc…
What I adore about Retribution though is the pacing of the story. It feels really well balanced with action coming thick and fast but always with enough information to keep the characters well developed and important to you. I am a huge fan of Knowles and despite my doubts about Jack in the first story, have come to really care about him and his plight too. I hope we get to hear from them all again.
Find out more about David Watkins and his writings on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and at his author pages on Amazon and GoodReads. You can pick up The Original’s Retribution and more of his work at the Amazon links below.
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The Original's Retribution by David Watkins
The Final Score - 8/10