Stephen King’s Cujo terrorized the world in a whole new way, and for the first time we learned to fear dogs in a horror novel, but after it was over, we felt safe again. That we could trust man’s best friend once more. Until now. In Peter Hurd’s XOLO we learn once again to fear the canine, not when it becomes rabid this time, but when it becomes enraged and hungry for revenge. Unless, of course, you’re on the side of man’s best friend and care about how they’re treated; in that case, you might not have a problem with the events of this book; you may even. . . enjoy it.

Derek Rains is a real estate developer who’s checking out some property with a potential business partner south of the border, and the man buys him a dog as a gift. A strange one: the animal is of the species known as a “xolo,” which are almost completely hairless dogs specially bred to survive in the desert, but they were also revered by the Aztecs, seen as spirit guides and guardians of the underworld. Derek brings the dog home much to the surprise of his family, but his daughter is delighted and takes it to show and tell, where things go very bad when it attacks Derek’s son. Forced to get rid of the dog, as Derek is driving out to the forest to abandon it, he hits a dear and then watches as the soul of the animal passes into the xolo. Derek, filled with terror, flees from the animal.

But that is where the adventures for the dog just begin, as it is captured and made part of a dog fighting ring, but through its special abilities, it encourages all the other dogs to band together and fight back, and they attack and kill the humans. And so begins a most unusual quest for this xolo, as it helps to free dogs that are trapped and suffering, and overthrow the humans who control them. It will come back to Derek to figure out what is truly happening and somehow put a stop to it all.

From the first few pages, things just feel off and wrong in XOLO, and as they take a turn for the worse, you almost want to stop reading, because you know it’s going to get bad, but at the same time you can’t; you have to keep reading to find out what happens next. 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.