Xolo: A Novel of Canine Horror
By: Peter Hurd
About the Book
Derek Rains, a nature-loving Colorado real estate developer, adopts a Xolo for his young family. These dogs were revered by the Aztecs as the guardians of the underworld. But when the animal bites his son, Derek is forced to abandon his new pet in the woods, where it is picked up by an underground dog-fighting ring. Horrified to see people forcing animals to kill each other, the Xolo taps into the ancient powers of its species to convince the other dogs to band together and kill their captors. Now free and wanting revenge on the humans who hurt and abandoned them, the dogs begin killing people who imprison their pets, growing the pack’s ranks in the process. With the murders spreading across the county, the local sheriff’s suspicions fall on Derek, whose pet was the only vicious animal in the area before these attacks. Derek refuses to believe that his dog could be responsible for so much carnage, but when his young son almost becomes the Xolo’s next victim, Derek must face up to the facts and put an end to the slaughter.
"Peter Hurd’s XOLO is a rip-roaring, action-packed, and delightfully gory horror story that positions man’s best friend as humanity’s deadliest enemy and has a lot of fun with the ensuing conflict. A true underdog in search of revenge tale (tail?), it offers danger, suspense, and a more than slight chance of rabies. If you thought Cujo had attitude, wait until you meet Xolo!" --Erin Britton, San Francisco Book Review
“Powered by an unapologetically gory and violent narrative, breakneck pacing, and an innate understanding of horror tropes and expectations… the story has a cinematic vibe; it reads like a screenplay, moving from one memorable scene to the next… hardcore horror fans should find this blood-splattered novel highly satisfying: Stephen King’s Cujo meets Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds.” -Paul Allen, BlueInk Review
“Fans of seminal works like Pet Sematary are certain to enjoy this updated twist on the animal horror subgenre. Peter Hurd holds nothing back in describing the capacity for violence in both humans and their canine compatriots in this novel, and it makes for compelling reading as the dog pack swells in numbers that would give any zombie novel a run for its money… the sharp, concise use of dialogue… helps move the plot forward at a brisk pace… the violent scenes were truly horrifying… I would certainly recommend Xolo to horror fans everywhere seeking a well-penned and highly creative, chilling tale.” -K.C. Finn, Readers’ Favorite.
“Horrifying yet visceral… Xolo will strike you as a cross between Cujo and Devil Dog, but the novel itself offers its own unique storyline… a study of the human-canine relationship and the tragedies it presents… Peter Hurd gives the novel an eerie Lovecraftian vibe… the horror that pervades is so mysterious that we need to look deep within ourselves first to understand its very nature. Xolo is more than just a story of a vengeful canine; it’s about what we don’t see in ourselves… It’s a novel about conscience, priorities, principles, fear, danger, revenge, love, and peace. With its foreboding atmosphere and sharp tension… this highly recommended tale of canine horror can potentially become a classic.” -Vincent Dublado, Readers’ Favorite.
“Hurd has written a dark yet moving book that draws you in from the very beginning, with compelling characters, including one enigmatic dog, making it a great terrorizing read for any fans of the horror genre.” -Alex Telander, Manhattan Book Review.
“The story is fast to establish its familiar horror roots… The escalating attacks are meted out in a way that creates tension; while the attacks themselves are gory, they also hold attention, showing blood splattering and relaying the sensations of canine teeth ripping flesh… Every character is developed in rich terms… Indeed, everyone who populates this novel has a place in its story—a fact amplified by the poetic descriptions of the settings. The prose maintains an underlying, mounting sense of terror; Xolo haunts it in cult horror fashion, implacable and ever present.” -John M. Murray, Foreword Clarion Reviews.
“A modern creature feature that pays homage to classic horror… Hurd is a talented writer who knows how to pace a scene for maximum scares… Hurd lets you see every detail and feel the menace—you know the dogs are close. He creates believable characters with human flaws and problems. And horror fans will enjoy his occasional nods to genre classics.” -Kirkus Reviews
About the Author
Peter Hurd was born in Saint Paul, Minnesota, currently lives in Forest Lake, and considers Hugo to be his hometown. He is a self-taught author and filmmaker. Shortly after graduating from the University of Minnesota-Morris with degrees in English and philosophy, Peter directed and produced his debut feature, the indie horror, "The Control Group," featuring genre legend Brad Dourif. After the release of that film, Peter concentrated more on his writing, making the finals of several national screenplay contests and publishing a story in Trigger Warning Short Fiction. XOLO is his first novel.
A lifelong Minnesotan, he also travels frequently to New Jersey, where he dog sits his sister's five hairless dogs (as well as a hairless cat and coated dog) who inspired him to look into the myths surrounding the ancient breed known as Xoloitzcuintle. These myths laid the foundation for his debut horror novel, a dream he had been harboring since first reading The Shining in fifth grade.
(2023, hardback, 412 pages)
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