These books have great, pulpy, retro covers but I don’t think many readers are clamoring to read the stories. I think there are some niche collectors who likely still love this genre and would love to argue this matter with me, but for the sake of this blog post, I’m going to move on to my point. Which is:
Modern Western Adventure Horror has something to offer today’s readers. Here are some books you should add to your READ, PRE-ORDER, and BUY LISTS.
THE THICKET by Joe R. Lansdale (quintessential reading for this genre)
In The Thicket, award-winning novelist Joe R. Lansdale lets loose like never before, in a rip-roaring adventure equal parts True Grit and Stand by Me – – the perfect introduction to an acclaimed writer whose work has been called “as funny and frightening as anything that could have been dreamed up by the Brothers Grimm — or Mark Twain” (New York Times Book Review)
WALK THE DARKNESS DOWN by John Boden
“This a rare opportunity for readers to fall in love with unlikely heroes engaging in an epic battle against the most formidable enemies you’ve ever read; both human and cosmic. I promise that once you start reading Boden’s work, you’ll become a junkie for it; craving his unique brand of horror that no other author can deliver”. – Sadie Hartmann (full Goodreads review)
Upcoming Adventure/Western/Horror series from C. S. Humble
These books will be coming out in 2023 from Cemetery Dance
THE MASSACRE AT YELLOW HILL
A RED WINTER IN THE WEST
THE LIGHT OF A BLACK STAR
Here is a snippet from my thoughts after reading Book 1
“Horror fans waiting for me to talk about the threat of evil…
Holy. Fucking. Shit.
You’re not ready. I wasn’t ready. I was utterly blindsided by the epic scope of madness simmering just below the surface. There are hints in the beginning, so pay close attention. You will meet a terrifying character in Big Spring (I hope we see more of Sigurd) and then later, Humble is going to fucking slay you with an intricately detailed, cosmic mythos and a secret occult society.
That’s all I’m going to say about that but I know those words are enough for fans to get stirred up. I have dropped my entire TBR in order to binge this first book and now I’m moving on to book two. I’ve had the pleasure of reading Humble’s horror short story collection, MINOTAUR, and a still-to-be-released novel (more on that soon but it’s the book that turned my head). C. S. Humble is a name horror fans will be seeing all the time from me–so it’s best to just get in with me now. Especially if you like weird Western horror. This author is one to watch. Trust me.”
RED STATION by Kenzie Jennings (A Splatter Western)
My review from Goodreads:
Kenzie Jennings has a legit flare for cinematic storytelling. I could see the story play out in my mind. The character development and authentic dialog made for easy investment right up front. A group of weary travelers is offered a hot meal and the promise of a comfortable place to sleep for the night. Gracious to have rest on their long journey, they accept.
The intensifying dread and suspense are delicious.
Much like a well-paced horror movie, Jennings offers her audience little hints as to what’s coming. It’s so alluring. By the time the climax sounds off and chaos is in full swing, there is no way to put this book down. Some writers have a difficult time writing action sequences and the violence becomes muddy and hard to follow. What impressed me most about this book are the vivid, detailed, and colorful descriptions of all the nuanced movements so that the action is playing out with crystal-clear pictures.
I can’t stress how cinematic my experience was.
My favorite character, the woman in the red dress, Clyde Northway, emerged as a new, all-time favorite literary badass. I fucking love her and I want more of her, now. Jennings assigns this woman an amazing backstory–just enough to entice readers and leave them longing for a prequel or a sequel or both (PLEASE).
I feel like I must take this opportunity to express how exciting this Splatter Western series can be in the hands of capable writers. I’m sure there is an audience for Horror Westerns that skimp on story and character in order to give the spotlight to the violence but for me, I want some meat on my bones. I want something to sink my teeth into and let my heart get fully invested so that when horrible things happen, I feel it hard in my guts. I want flesh and blood characters that feel real so that every cut, every stab, all the torture is meaningful. I want to cheer for the good guys (and the baddies). I want justice and revenge.
I need to feel my fucking feelings.
If a writer’s definition of “Splatterpunk” is just the splatter and none of the punk, it will always fall short for this reader.
As for RED STATION, this is the gold standard by which all is measured.
PARADISE SKY by Joe R. Lansdale
“My favorite aspect of Lansdale’s storytelling is authenticity. Everything feels so real because each character has their own distinct voice, carefully added details provide depth, the dialog is colorful and HILARIOUS, and the setting is vivid. My reading experience was immersive–I felt it all: Injustice, the kindness of strangers, grief, fear, love, rage…all the things that happened to Nat Love happened to me too. “
THE SURVIVAL OF MARGARET THOMAS by Del Howison
Coming Spring 2023 from Pandi Press
In this action packed debut adventure novel, Margaret “Peggy” Thomas’ peaceful life is turned upside down after the murder of the local sheriff, her husband, James. Author Del Howison has crafted a dark, nuanced tale about justice, found family, and the choices we make in the throes of desperation when we are faced with nothing to lose. The Survival of Margaret Thomas transcends genre into a tale of hope, heart, and revenge.
Sadie Hartmann “Mother Horror”