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The Totem

3.57  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,001 Ratings  ·  68 Reviews
Slowly, bizarre events grip the tiny mountain community of Potter's Field, Wyoming. Cattle are mutilated. Animals become savage. Children go insane. Townspeople are found without faces. And one man must confront the evil behind the hideous events, an evil that is all too human and deadly. From the bestselling author of Desperate Measures. HC: Fawcett.
236 pages
Published 1981 by Pan Books (first published 1979)
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Jan 23, 2015 Chris rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Originally published in the late 70's, which is the setting for this novel, but reissued in 1995 with previously cut material, this clever and frightening novel examines how a small town deals with inexplicably brutal deaths of animals, cattle and pets, and eventually, townspeople. And those who are wounded become ravenous creatures, avoiding light and seeking fresh blood and meat. The town police chief tries to piece together the gruesome puzzle, with the help of a reporter and town medical exa ...more
Martin Hill
Oct 24, 2015 Martin Hill rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
David Morrell is known best as the author of thrillers but he is, in fact, a multi-genre writer. His oeuvre includes western, historical, horror, and science fiction novels, as well as nonfiction books. In fact, despite the many Morrell thrillers I've enjoyed, it is his sci-fi novel, The Shimmer, that I consider my favorite. After reading Morrell's horror novel, The Totem, I rank it up there with The Shimmer.

The Totem was originally published in 1979 to much acclaim. That book, however, was much
Valancourt Books
May 11, 2014 Valancourt Books rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
'The Totem' is definitely a page-turner. Disturbances in the small Wyoming town of Potters Field as a full moon approaches lead the local sheriff on a race against time to find out who or what is killing off the townspeople. Although the plot is simple, Morrell crafts a tale of horror with ever-increasing suspense and just enough twists to keep you guessing until the end. And then the end only leaves you wanting more.
May 24, 2016 William rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Just finished a reread of this one, and it's still a great horror novel - one of the all time greats for me. It has pace, verve, genuine thrills and scares and maintains a humanity in the characters all the way through to the climax. It's a wonderful thing and I love it.
Adam Light
Dec 09, 2014 Adam Light rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror, own-it, e-book
This was a pretty gripping horror novel from thriller writer David Morrell. Too bad he dudn't dabble more in the genre, but his writing was engaging and visceral. The tempo of Morrell's prose in this book is rapid fire and certainly kept me flipping pages. The man doesn't waste words. The characters and dialogue were natural and never forced. All in all, a superbly crafted book that I would recommend. My only complaint was that the ending, though exciting and tense, came off a bit weak in my opi ...more
Mar 27, 2015 Christine rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015-reads
The small Wyoming town of Potters Field is in the middle of cattle and horse country. When animals begin to get mutilated wild dogs, wolves, coyotes or even a cougar are the usual suspects, except the livestock is not being eaten, just eviscerated. Enter (appropriately named) Nathan Slaughter, transplanted Detroit cop looking for a quieter life, unsuccessful horse breeder and current sheriff. That quiet life is about to blown out of the water. Slaughter is eventually joined by a washed up, alcoh ...more
Feb 19, 2016 Cheryl rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Abandoning this one. I just couldn't get into it.
-3 Stars.
Sadly I read/listened to the newly expanded edition from his originally edited out pages(more than double the size of the original)
Well all I can say is reading all the fat and the lines that are repeated a couple sentences later all the time, I can only imagine the author really didn't even choose to edit his new 30 year old version before shoveling it to his publishers and saying, I'm big now so publish it.

Which sadly(not that he is a big author) but he's a good one who is much better
Like many good horror novels, the premise for this one is very simple. A virus is unleashed in a small town. It is spread through bites by infected individuals. Dogs, cats, and humans are the most affected. The virus, similar to rabies but different, turns the victim into a raving, slobbering, violent, lunatic. Domestic dogs and cats become killers.

That's the story. Morrell then throws in some believable and sympathetic characters and lets 'er rip. There's the sheriff who moved there from Detro
Printable Tire
I guess this is the literary equivalent of a boring 70's Z-grade horror movie I would fall asleep watching late at night. Which is not a bad thing, as that's a sort of pleasure I enjoy.

The Totem stars the ubiquitous horror movie small-town Sheriff, a part perfected by L.Q. Jones in a zillion movies. Totem's Sheriff, named Slaughter (no surprising moniker from the writer who brought us Rambo in First Blood) is a man running from his past in the East Coast and has settled in the relatively peacefu
Robert Mingee
Jul 27, 2015 Robert Mingee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015, 2015-harc
This was an entertaining book, and an interesting take on the werewolf mythos. I haven't read the original, but I'm a little curious now. To me it seemed like some of the backstories were a bit more detailed than necessary given the character's contribution to the story, but it didn't feel "padded" by any stretch of the imagination. The writing was a little rough in places, particularly some stilted dialogue, but it was written quite some time ago.

Definitely recommended, particularly for fans of
Jan 13, 2015 Tim rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
While I listened to this novel from beginning to end, it would have made no difference if I had not. While the author claims to be happy pages weren't destroyed, he may be the only one. 0 of 10 stars
Zac Goodall
I should start out by noting a couple of things. First, I'm a horror fan, but not a well read one. Horror is difficult to write for a variety of reasons, and I have a lot of respect for people who can pull it off. I should also note, I prefer supernatural horror. Serial killers, diseases, and such just don't quite do it for me. I think because those things can be understood through some application of science, even if we can't understand them intuitively, and I think that's one of the issues I h ...more
Oct 17, 2014 Scotty rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I've been hearing about this book forever and have been meaning to read it for about twenty years. I finally sat down with it, and overall I've got to say I'm a bit disappointed.

The book starts off pretty strong. There's nothing groundbreaking about it, but I was solidly hooked into the story and enjoyed the characters (although Morrell's habit of arbitrarily deciding not to give some of the major characters names definitely got on my nerves). The dialogue was the weakest aspect throughout, but
David B
Aug 08, 2014 David B rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The version of the book that I read is the one originally published back in 1979. It came out of a box in my friend's garage, and I decided to read it because he remembered liking it so much. I liked it, too. Although it is rather conventional in its structure and some aspects of the plot were left underdeveloped, I thought that David Morrell had a good handle on the genre and wrote some interesting characters--all men who have endured personal and professional failures and retreated to a small ...more
Mar 05, 2014 Gwen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Potter's Field, a rural town in Wyoming, has a problem. Cattle are found mutilated, people are being viciously attacked by creatures, an entire family has disappeared, and a small boy goes insane after being bitten by a raccoon. Spreading quickly from an unknown source is a rabies-like virus and it's up to the town's sheriff to unravel the mystery and put a stop to the epidemic.

Although listed as horror, the plot really is more action/adventure with some gruesome mystery tossed in. It took me a
May 09, 2014 Amanda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: excellent-reads
This was one of those books that has it all, a fantastic story idea, brilliant characters written in a lovely fluid style. There is also a lot of insight into the behaviours of mankind that bakes this book seem so very realistic. Definitely on my excellent read shelf!
Knit Spirit
Lorsque j’ai lu « épouvante » sur la couverture du livre, je me suis dit que ça me changerait de mes dernières lectures et j’espérais bien avoir peur. Moi qui n’ai jamais frissonner en lisant les Stephen King, je me disais que j’avais peut-être enfin trouvé un auteur qui saurait m’effrayer. Bon, quand une critique commence comme ça, vous vous doutez de la suite : je n’ai pas du tout eu peur, même pas sursauter, rien, nada, zéro ! Par contre, je pense qu’adapté en film, ça pourrait faire peur.
Jul 18, 2008 Charles rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror
This is really the only horror novel that Morrell ever wrote, although some of his stories hit in that genre. "The Totem" was excellent, though, and I wish he'd have written more horror.
i remember liking this when i first read it 6 years ago. Now I cannot stand to finish a re-read so I'm putting it back down and holding on to my original memories of it.
Mar 01, 2016 thebonebreaker rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have been a fan of Morrell ('First Blood'/'The Fifth Profession') for many, many years, yet somehow I missed this earlier work of his. (perhaps due to it being published in 1979 - I was only six at the time...) Thankfully, I came across a copy at a local estate sale, (you never know what you'll find!) and I am happy to say that this book still holds up today!

When a viral infection (somewhat similar to rabies) causing those infected to turn into rabid killers begins to rapidly spread in the tow
Dec 28, 2014 Petar rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not his best work. Doing trip to horror wasn't a good dea. It's just my opinion...
Jan 27, 2016 Menestrel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this book a nice surprise. The suspense starts slowly in the beginning but goes up to a real page turner.
This book was pretty good but I thought the ending was disappointing.
Kathy Jackson
Well, well, well. I finished the book this evening – I couldn’t put it down. The story reminds me of Dean Koontz’s Midnight thought this story originally came out 10 years earlier.

I have to say I liked Slaughter, the main character and his various band of cohorts. The story starts out so well – lots of suspense that kept you at the edge of your seat. I can’t say it was so thick that I was talking to the book – which does happen sometimes in the middle of the night when a character is about to do
Dec 10, 2013 Scott rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In the introduction to "The Totem," David Morrell talks about how when the novel was originally published in 1979, the publisher made him change the manuscript considerably before it was released. This version, published in 1995, is the complete, original version of Morrell's original manuscript.

The story takes place in the Wyoming ranching town of Potter's Field. The sheriff of the town, Slaughter, is a transplant from Detroit. An alcoholic reporter, Dunlap, arrives in town to do a 'then and no
May 06, 2014 Angel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So here's the thing about this book- I liked it. I mean I really liked it. I thought Chief Slaughter was a great character, I even liked the alcoholic reporter Dunlap. I need to admit though everytime they talked about hippies I couldn't help thinking of South Park and Cartman. Wrong I know but this is how the mind works sometimes. At any rate, this is a creepy story in my humble opinion.
Now, here's the thing that frustrated me. I opened my Nook and it tell me 710 pages. Well OK! I get to page 4
Jul 10, 2013 Kelly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a difficult one to review because I have the edition that has both versions of the novel in it, the original, unreleased longer one, and the original, shorter release. I read the longer version and will get to the shorter one at a later date.

I liked this book but it took me a while to get into it. Well-written and interesting, I never fully engaged with it until the troubles really started in the story. Once they did, I was all-in. There are some good, creepy moments throughout and the
Linda Acaster
Mar 17, 2016 Linda Acaster rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Fast-paced and entertaining, this is well worth a read if you enjoy the author’s work. A forerunner of zombie fiction currently in fashion, doubtless it would have been ground-breaking at the time of first publication. As is so much of fiction, it is an exploration of ordinary people under stress, and it works very well.
John Triptych
David Morrell's take on werewolves! A small town in Wyoming comes under attack by creatures who may be crazed animals or something even worse. Morrell deftly combines the thriller and horror genres along with his trademark realism to produce a mildly entertaining book. It seems that the town itself has a sordid past that has something to do with a hippie commune up in the mountains a few years back and now something is coming.

The book itself starts off fine and the suspense builds with every pa
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David Morrell is a Canadian novelist from Kitchener, Ontario, who has been living in the United States for a number of years. He is best known for his debut 1972 novel First Blood, which would later become a successful film franchise starring Sylvester Stallone. More recently, he has been writing the Captain America comic books limited-series The Chosen.
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