Windfall, by Tempe O’Kun – book review by Fred Patten.
by Patch O'Furr
Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.
Windfall, by Tempe O’Kun. Illustrated by Slate.
Dallas, TX, FurPlanet Productions, July 2015, trade paperback $19.95 (325 pages), electronic edition $9.95.
This is a mature content book. Please ensure that you are of legal age to purchase this material in your state or region. (publisher’s advisory)
It has been six months since the popular TV series Strangeville was cancelled after five seasons. The cast has split up and gone their own ways. For Max Saber (husky) and Kylie Bevy (otter), teenage supporting actors who played a high-school boy & girl on the series, this has meant returning to their homes across America. Yet they have remained in touch through texting, and after six months, both are wondering whether their TV romance might have been more serious than they realized. When Max, on his parents’ Montana ranch, gets an invitation from Kylie to spend a three-week vacation in her old New England town of Windfall – the town that the creepy, surrealistic Strangeville was modelled upon – he takes it. Yep, their romance is real. So is the horror of Windfall.
As readers of my reviews know, I don’t think much of funny-animal novels in which the characters are really humans with superficial animal features. But Windfall presents them in depth. There are constant mentions of fur, wagging tails, perked or drooping ears, the female otters’ whiskers and webbed paws. A teen rhino fan asks Max to autograph his horn. “The otter threaded her tail through the hole in the [car] seat and popped the key into the ignition.” (p. 41) Max calls Kylie “rudderbutt”. Some of it is occasionally anthro-specific, as when Kylie finds a deer’s skull while she and Max are camping in the woods:
“She knew that [the deer had been feral]. The eyes were too far to the sides and the neck attached at the wrong angle, leaving little room for the brain. Still it looked enough like a sapient deer’s skull to give her the creeps.” (p. 57)
But there are also human features. A sultry cocker spaniel has prominent “boobs”. Readers can take these as they will, but there is probably enough “animalicity” to satisfy most furry readers. The almost-two-dozen half-toned illustrations by Slate help a lot.
Strangeville is clearly inspired by the 1990-91 Twin Peaks TV series co-created, co-written, and co-directed by David Lynch. Windfall is divided into twenty chapters, each of which begins with a TV-guide summary of a Strangeville episode.
“STRANGEVILLE (WED/9p) S04E04 ‘Inside’: After her grueling battle with the army of alien ghost dragons, Sandy finally returns home to Strangeville, but not everything is how she left it.”
“STRANGEVILLE (TUE/9p) S02E03 ‘The Nine Portals, Part 1’: The Tribunal opens the Nine Portals, flooding the world with dangerous creatures. The gang must stem the tide before these monsters overwhelm them.”
“STRANGEVILLE (MON/9p) S01E12 ‘Slugfest’: Cassie learns in a vision that her dentist is secretly a slug monster. She must convince the others before her upcoming check-up makes her a perfect target for being eaten and replaced by a slug-clone.”
“STRANGEVILLE (WED/9p) S04E12 ‘Chocolate Heart’: An unknown person is causing havoc with a shipment of love-potion chocolates. Cassie, already coping with being in heat, unknowingly tries one.”
Kylie’s mother, Laura Bevy, was the executive producer and lead writer of Strangeville, and she modelled it “upon what she knew”, including making the ancient Queen Anne mansion that she and Kylie inherited (and haven’t fully explored yet) the creepy “haunted house” that turns out to be a gateway to the monsters’ dimension. Their small town of Windfall has been taking advantage of it, as Kylie explains to Max:
“The mustelid chattered on. ‘These days, the town’s cashing in on ‘supernatural’ tourism. Basically, Internet weirdos have heard we’ve got a bunch of ghosts and goblins, so they drive up here to be separated from their disposable income.’ She couldn’t suppress a smirk. ‘Having a TV show based on the town may have helped a little.’” (p. 43)
Windfall is a combination of funny and sweet for the first seventy pages. There’s a hilarious description of a video that Kylie plays for Max:
“‘Turkish film translated into Italian, now with bootleg subtitles by a non-native English speaker.’” (p. 49)
… about a zombie wife returned from the dead, or maybe she’s a cyborg, who gets topless and fires lasers from her nipples. Since Windfall is an anthro novel, the cyborg/zombie wife is feline, but I’ve seen something very like this with humans. (Have you seen the 1987 Hindi rip-off of Superman with a child actor who portrays a 5-year-old Clark Kent super-breakdancing? It’s on YouTube.)
Then at page 70 it starts getting into why the old Bourn Holt mansion that Kylie’s mom inherited had been deserted for thirty years, and why Windfall town is getting so many tourists interested in the supernatural. Max and Kylie investigate the town’s past. The novel is not quite halfway through when the first real monster appears.
Max and Kylie explore Windfall’s adjoining forests and such establishments as the sea-otter-run Thomas Creel Seaweed Farm & Brewery (seaweed beer?), a two hours drive away. As they travel together for long stretches, and they are now healthy twenty-year-olds, nature takes its course in pauses for explicit mature sex. Windfall is NC-17 for a reason, although the eroticism in Windfall is very consensual. What the two learn about the truth behind two hundred years of madness, and the reality of fighting interdimensional monsters, is almost an anticlimax. If you like lots of surreality, graphic sex, and furry anthros, don’t miss Windfall.