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Dreadful Skin

3.73  ·  Rating details ·  518 ratings  ·  83 reviews

I ducked into a niche between a cabin and the pilot house and hiked my skirt up enough to reach down into my garter holster. I've heard it said that God made all men, but Samuel Colt made all men equal. We'd see what Mr. Colt could do for a woman.

Jack Gabert went to India to serve his Queen. He returned to London a violently changed man, infected with an unnatural sickness

Hardcover, 234 pages
Published March 1st 2007 by Subterranean Press
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Average rating 3.73  · 
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 ·  518 ratings  ·  83 reviews

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 Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books)
I am so glad that I found out about this book. It was just what I was looking for. This book is an excellent journey into the heart of darkness in the American West, with a supernatural twist. And to top it off, the protagonist is a woman of unquenchable will and determination.

Irish nun, Sister Eileen, is small, but her spirit is tremendous. She has made it her mission to track and end a vicious werewolf disguised as a man, Jack. She's followed his trail of rampage and blood over several contine
Jul 23, 2009 rated it it was ok
How not to write multiple first-person narrative:

Introduce 5 or 6 first person speakers, none of whom sound at all convincing as who they're supposed to be (a Southern slave woman, an English aristocrat, a river boat captain, a gambler, an Irish nun, etc) or distinctly different from one another.

Then have most of them dead by page 60.

Thanks for wasting my time!

I'm really glad I didn't start reading Priest here or I wouldn't have picked her up again.
So a nun with Colt gun, a gambler and a werewolf sat down at a table on steamboat.

No, it's not the start of a joke; it actually happens in this book. More important, it's not stupid.

I've read my fair share of urban fantasy, and I'll admit, I'm getting very tried of the tormented good guys. You know what I'm talking, the poor vampire who is looking for his true love, and finds her embodied in the heroine of the series. I'm not saying I don't enjoy a story where the vampire or werewolf is good guy
Jul 07, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: horror, fantasy
I’ve been meaning to get round to Dreadful Skin for ages. I mean, the idea of a gun-toting nun chasing an actually scary werewolf across America has got to be fun, right? Particularly given that I enjoyed Those Who Went Remain There Still, which had a similar horror feel. This isn’t creepy, more grotesque, but not gratuitous either. It’s more Dracula in tone than slasher film, I mean. I didn’t realise it was actually three shorter stories collected together, telling the story via three episodes ...more
Oh boy! This was bad. BAD! Not one of Priest's better works. It was so bad I bailed at 25 pages before the end. ...more
Quentin Wallace
I had mixed feelings about this one. I love the weird western genre, especially with werewolves, as my first novel was a "weird werewolf western." And this book had some awesome ideas. A werewolf on a riverboat. Werewolves traveling around in a tent revival and adding more wolves to the pack as they traveled from town to town. A werewolf nun. Just some cool ideas, but for me it never quite took off.

The story jumped around more than I'd have liked for one thing. Also, part of the novel was writte
It's only been a couple days since I finished this novel, but I find myself struggling to articulate why I'm leaning towards three stars. Premise-wise, it's a tale of werewolves in the Old West and features a badass nun/hunter named Eileen Callaghan, so should have been right up my alley.

Dreadful Skin is told in three parts, more like a set of three inter-connected short stories than a full novel. Because, yes, I really can't call this a 'novel': there's very little arc or development here, more
Aug 07, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the first book of Cherie Priest's that I've read, and it won't be the last! A wonderfully gothic werewolf tale that starts in 1870 on board the steamboat Mary Byrd as it makes it's journey up the Tennessee river, bound for Chattanooga . It is divided into three tales, the first tale taking place on the boat and from varying points of view as some of the passengers tell you about themselves and their fate on that tormented night.
The second tale is set in 1879 and starts in Texas, and come
Mar 06, 2010 rated it really liked it
From my point of view, it’s hard to do a werewolf story well. They turn out silly, or are just gory. I mean, most are pretty predictable- moon gets full, person turns into wolf and kills people. Turns back to human, doesn’t remember anything.

This one is different. They lycanthropes aren’t all cut from the same cloth, and they don’t lose their wits completely when then transform. During their human times, they have plans and carry them out methodically. Some are good, some are tormented, some ar
Brian Engelhardt
Apr 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing
The wild west, werewolves and a rogue Catholic nun. Enough said.
Rachel- Goodbye Borders
A gun carrying werewolf hunter who happens to be a nun (and has her own secret!)?! Sign me up!
In reality this was disappointing. I think the format didn't work. This is told in 3 parts. The 1st part is told in 1st person, but with several viewpoints. Each chapter is a different viewpoint- but no chapter headings nor was it obvious (sometimes) whose point of view it was. The 2nd part was 3rd person and this worked so much better! The 3rd and last part was back to 1st person. But the chapters had
An Irish nun pursues an English werewolf through the American south—but in order to kill a monster, she may have to become a monster herself. The story is told in three sections, each with a distinct narrative style—a choice which holds reader attention but fragments the book. Dreadful Skin is not a unique addition to the werewolf genre, but it does feature realistically brutal violence and an unique, haunting Southern gothic setting. The thematic elements of justification and prey could be bett ...more
May 10, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: weird-west, texas
Such a complicated book. Let's unpack this.

So: Priest loves to experiment with multiple POVs. In this case, six. This does and doesn't work. It doesn't work for the first story because we have five POVs thrown at us from the get-go, and then they're winnowed away as they're killed, but oy five POVs. It does work in that I see what she was going for with setting up five POVs who are then killed off one by one to narrow and focus the narrative.

Killing off five POVs doesn't narrow and focus the nar
EA Solinas
Apr 30, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, favorites
Disclaimer: This is is one of those werewolf stories for people who actually like werewolves, not pretty shirtless boys who happen to turn into wolves.

That said, Cherie Priest's "Dreadful Skin" is a three-part novel that slowly unfolds a truly horrifying, sometimes shocking story. She packs the entire story with historical details, well-rounded characters, buckets of gore and truly monstrous monsters -- and it has a gunslinging Irish nun hunting werewolves. What could be better?

In the years afte
Mar 03, 2011 rated it liked it
Dreadful Skin is the literary version of potato chips: edible, went fast, but left me unsatisfied and wishing for something either more substantial or tastier.

A number of factors contributed to my dissatisfaction, and the sum of the whole was greater than the individual problems.

First, there was the disjointedness. The book hops from head to head as if it can't stand to hang out in any particular one for more than a few pages. In the first part, where the narrator isn't immediately identified,
Cherie Priest has just catapulted to the top of my must-read authors list with this book of three short stories about Irish nun Eileen Callaghan's hunt for a werewolf in Dreadful Skin. The stories are set in the last half of the 19th century, in a variety of locations: a steamboat on the Tennessee River; a religious revivalist camp in Holiness, Texas; the burnt-out town of Mescalero in the arid western desert. The shifting first-person narratives of the characters on the steamboat the Mary Byrd ...more
Nov 15, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bookmooch, werewolves
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 14, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: horror lovers
Recommended to Jessica by: Juushika
A little known book that I think deserves more shelf time, I wish I had the power to stock it in the horror section where I work. It's a refreshing addition to the werewolf genre and should be a staple of reading lists on like subjects. Violent and gothic without romantasizing, I still found the text to be beautiful. The characters are unique, the settings southern and lush.

Why it did not get raised to five stars, was the format of three sections. I saw the author's intent in splitting to illust
Dec 29, 2008 rated it really liked it
very traditional horror story - makes me think of Byron and Shelley. Described as a Southern Gothic but I thought it felt more Western in the sparseness of language and stoic heroes. Almost feels like a serial with the multiple POV and the asides that bring the reader up to speed between parts. Quick read but well done and satisfying.
Abigail Hilton
Aug 21, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Literary werewolf story with religion, steamboats, and gun-toting nuns.
Apr 29, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Emily by: Danielle "The Book Huntress" Hill
Shelves: horror, 2010-05
I really enjoyed the different writing style used to tell this story. Also, great characters and setting. Really innovative and refreshing.
Mar 05, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Mary Byrd is a steamboat known to have disappeared under mysterious circumstances in the late 19th Century. For her latest round of passengers, this will be their final voyage along the Tennessee—all but two will find the muddy waters of the river their new home. The only question is: which two? And which of four vivid voices will perish in their desperation to subdue the Mary Byrd’s opportunistic attacker? Their outcome will be determined by the rise of the moon, the depth of the waters, an ...more
James Reyome
Feb 12, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have yet to read a Cherie Priest book that is any less than amazing. This one continues the trend.

This is probably the best werewolf story I've read since David Holland's "Murcheston: The Wolf's Tale", and it's at least as much pure fun as McCammon's "The Wolf's Hour". It most certainly isn't Twilight (thank all that is holy.) It left ultimately me feeling more than a little KNOW how it's all going to come out, and and you know it won't be pretty. But it will be necessary. The charac
Apr 03, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: horror
Cherie Priest is good at writing characters and atmosphere though, but the books runs a bit too sparse, especially in the last chapters.
Oct 14, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016, horror, e-book
I have Dreadful Skin as a part of the Cherie Priest Bundle ebook, and I went into it thinking it was a novella. I was surprised to find it's actually novel-length, and then more surprised to find the book is actually a collection of three shorter, related works. The main character, Eileen Callaghan, is what connects the three stories. Eileen is trying to track down a werewolf.

The first story, "The Wreck of the Mary Byrd", is hard to follow because Priest writes the story in the first person, but
Jeff Young
May 09, 2010 rated it really liked it
There are so many elements of this book that I really like- but its the overly creative methodology of presentation, the over abundance of "telling" and drop off the edge ending that stop me from rating it higher. So werewolves, in a not overdone fashion, in interesting backdrops: a Mississippi River Boat, a tent revival and a western end of the line town. All gold as far as I'm concerned. The book is broken up into three portions, the first of which consists of bouncing between several view poi ...more
MB Taylor
Feb 18, 2011 rated it liked it
Finished reading Dreadful Skin (2008) by Cherie Priest yesterday. According to “The Internet Speculative Fiction Database” ( Dreadful Skin is a collection of three works of short fiction: “Part One: The Wreck of the Mary Byrd”, “Part Two: Halfway to Holiness”, and “Part Three: Our Lady of the Wasteland and the Hallelujah Chorus” all which have only been published in Dreadful Skin. Sounds more like an episodic novel to me; although each story could probably stand on its own, they ar ...more
Sep 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
I love books that take a real-life mysterious event and give it a much cooler explanation. Cherie Priest pulls that off quite neatly with Dreadful Skin, a novel in three parts starring an Irish nun and a werewolf. I know, I know, who hasn't seen that pair used in a really good book?

The story opens on the Mary Byrd, a small ship that actually did disappear somewhere on the Tennessee River between Knoxville and Chattanooga in 1870. On board the story's version is a tipsy captain, a former slave, a
Oct 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
There aren't a lot of solid werewolf novels out there, that aren't PNR (where 'shifter' is an actual genre.) So when I'd heard that Priest had written one, I ran for the library. Starting on a riverboat on the Tennessee and moving to Texas and then onto the frontier in post-Civil War old timey western times, the setting of the novel is a familiar one for fans of Priest's works (though the Clockwork Century is, admittedly, an alternate steampunk timeline). And, as always, Priest accentuates the l ...more
Oct 17, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2010
This was an interesting book. It wasn't exactly what I was expecting, Cherie Priest does an excellent job of making me think I'm going to be getting one thing and then turning around and tweaking it just enough that I'm stunned by how it turns out. She did that to me in Fathom also. On one hand it can be disconcerting and yet ... she's never predictable. I can't complain when an author leaves me thinking.

Narrative-wise, the book is divided into three separate stories that span years and miles. T
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Cherie Priest is the author of two dozen books and novellas, most recently The Toll, The Family Plot, The Agony House, and the Philip K. Dick Award nominee Maplecroft; but she is perhaps best known for the steampunk pulp adventures of the Clockwork Century, beginning with Boneshaker. Her works have been nominated for the Hugo and Nebula awards for science fiction, and have won the Locus Award (amo ...more

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