The Erstwhile Tyler Kyle, by Steve Hugh Westenra

The Book

The Erstwhile Tyler Kyle
Pages: 509
Age Group: Adult
Published on 10/13/2023
Publisher: Self-Published
Available on:


Tyler Kyle doesn’t believe in monsters.

A washed-up thirty-year-old actor and reluctant cryptid investigator, Tyler is used to playing the Scully to his best friend Josh’s Mulder on their stupidly popular YouTube channel. But when Tyler receives previously unseen footage of the B movie bombshell mother who abandoned him eighteen years ago—footage linked to an isolated island in the Canadian wilderness—the mystery is one conspiracy he’s determined to investigate. The fact that following the scent gives Tyler an excuse to run away from the “straight” Josh, whom he drunkenly made out with, is just the cherry on the shit sundae.

But Echo Island isn’t what it seems. Its eerily scenic veneer hides a twisted secret buried in its roots as a gay conversion camp, and as Tyler retraces his mother’s footsteps, he discovers a supernatural connection between the residents and the island—one they seem to think Tyler and his mother share.

Even worse, the footage of Tyler’s mom came from someone on the island–a stalker whose obsessive fascination with both Tyler and Josh is about to make Tyler wish he hadn’t gone this one alone. Puppeteered by his stalker, searching for his mother, and debating whether it’s possible to queerbait yourself, Tyler comes to realize that it doesn’t matter so much whether you believe in monsters, if they believe in you.

THE ERSTWHILE TYLER KYLE is an adult horror comedy for fans of GHOST FILES, BUZZFEED UNSOLVED, and TWIN PEAKS.  

My Review

The Erstwhile Tyler Kyle is a genre blending queer horror novel, written by Steve Hugh Westernra; a refreshing take that combines many branches of horror, winking an eye at many of the films that made me love the genre. All inside a story that is an absolute rollercoaster of emotions with memorable characters.

"It never stops being weird, someone being there and then suddenly not, like you could step into yesterday and find them walking to the corner store, or if you tilt your head at exactly the right angle you’ll see them in your living room watching The Day the Earth Stood Still. They pat the seat beside them, like they caught your reflection in the screen, but it was just a shadow, and you snap out of each other’s worlds the way we forget even our most vivid dreams in the haze of morning."

We will be following Tyler Kyle, a 30-year-old voice actor who runs a cryptid investigation show with his best friend Josh. He's a sceptic that doesn't really believes in any of these supernatural things, hence not getting really invested into them; his mind is on leaving the show (somebody said Grave Encounters?). However, he has recently received a video of his mom, who abandoned him eighteen years ago; a mystery that takes him to the remote and secluded Echo Island, on a journey that is also a run from his feelings and the panic that produced to him after his last experience with Josh.

With this premise, we soon get invested on the mysteries behind Echo Island, and its weird inhabitants; only a few pages are needed to understand that we are barely scratching the first layer of a complex society. Something is deeply wrong in this apparently calm place; a sense of danger and fear is always present; but Tyler must discover what happened to his mother and why he received the video, and at the same time, he will have to deal with those feelings he tried left behind.

"It occurs to me suddenly that if it’s possible to queerbait yourself, that’s exactly what we’ve been doing for five seasons."

All is narrated with the voice of Tyler, a extremely strong one from the narrative point, with a self-deprecating and dark point; he's, in a few words, a mess. Struggling with his own feelings, trying to negate them, this travel is anything but an excuse to delay the inevitable talk with Josh. Westenra manages to create a set of compelling characters, who connect with you in different ways; definitely one of the strongest point of the novel.

The author manages to blend many different kinds of horror in the same story, creating what for me felt as a homage to the genre and many of the pieces that shaped it; from the folk horror and the deeply secluded communities that might have other intentions for the strangers, such as in Midsommar or The Wicker Man, to even paranormal horror, in a style that remembers me to what was done in The Forest

Westenra's prose is really polished, with a small lyrical touch that shines more when our confused character is trying to understand his feelings. It is true that pacing might be slow at some points, but all the time spent building has a payoff at the end.

The Erstwhile Tyler Kyle is a deliciously queer horror novel, a great novel that if you like the horror genre should give a try. An author with an incredible ability, whose next books for sure I will be reading!

The Author/s

Steve Hugh Westenra

Steve Hugh Westenra

Steve is a trans author of fantasy, science fiction, and horror (basically, if it’s weird he writes it).

He grew up on the eldritch shores of Newfoundland, Canada, and currently lives and works in (the slightly less eldritch) Montreal. He holds advanced degrees in Russian Literature, Medieval Studies, and Religious Studies. His current academic work focuses on marginalized reclamations of monstrous figures. He teaches the History of Satan and Religion and its Monsters.

In 2018, Steve’s lesbian Viking novel, Ash, Oak, and Thorn, was selected for the Pitch Wars mentoring program and agent showcase. During Pitch Wars, Steve was lucky to receive mentorship from fellow queer author, K. A. Doore.

His queer horror comedy, The Erstwhile Tyler Kyle, was mentored by Mary Ann Marlowe in the inugural #Queeryfest class.

He is a SPFBO9 entrant.

Steve is passionate about queer representation, Late Antiquity, and spiders.