typicalbook – The Law of Moses by Kwen Griffeth

Here is a tale of a calculating sheriff chiselled from a reluctant soldier. After joining up to fight alongside his brother in the civil war, Sam Moses lost all that was dear to him. His life was one thing not dear to him at all, and while wishing for the sweet release of death he becomes the most feared gunman in the west. His only wish is that someone else would draw fast enough, aim true enough, and end his life since suicide just does not fit into his law.

Flowing like an episode of cherished westerns or serial paperbacks favoured by the genre, “The Law of Moses” lays it down proper. Small amounts of humour, and ample bloodshed keep the wheels greased for this horror fan. If there is something to be found in the western drama for readers, it is a tale of honour played out on the dusty dry landscape that author Kwen Griffeth paints for us with all the sand, wood, and horseflesh we imagine.

Set in the small town of Puebla Fresa – named after the strawberries that grew alongside the nearby La Ria de Fresa – Moses is the new sheriff of an idyllic pre-1900 western village. Meeting barman Ed West, who becomes the closest thing to a friend Moses will allow, comes in the first chapter and a vicious fight in his saloon. A great way to start out as we see Moses lay down the law, and learn a little about our iron-fisted hero. Little bits of his past are woven into the story as we go along. Artfully, this never feels like straight exposition. Although we do hear most of his past in whispers among townsfolk, it fits with a character that is not forthcoming. The dark and cold sheriff we meet has a past that shaped him into the fearsome man he has become. Therein lies the basis of the law, aside from a gnawing death-wish: Moses needs to be all the man he can be, not the man he became. This is what he expects of others too, and if they misstep, they are destined to pay the price he sees fit.

When not told by way of gossip about “Suicide Sam” or “Crazy Moses”, we learn much about him in flashbacks to his past. Handled well and never jarring from the main story, we learn of his brother Luke Moses and just why their mother wished them to war. Patsy Brown is a love interest, which clashes nicely with the abstinent and cold sheriff we know. These characters long forgotten are mirrored slightly in WIlliam and Laura Stoddard. As much as West and the local blacksmith Lincoln Lincoln – yes, first name and last – are the closest thing to Moses’ friends, the Stoddard’s start out as more of a thorn in his side. By then though, we are pretty sure most of Moses’ life has been made of thorns so that fits his unwelcoming and weather-beaten demeanour.

Shakespeare and the work of Jane Austen make appearances in the book, adding to the literary flavour that is hinted at here and there. The mechanics of the book are steeped in genre, from Civil War slang and cowboy etiquette, to how to train a horse and the high cost of fresh milk. Underneath is the craft of drama, and plot tactics at home with those familiar with those literary greats.

The only thing I can never buy into, and not just in “The Law of Moses” but many stories, is when so many people go along with the lead character with only passing protest or question. Be it a hair-brained scheme or playing the part in a plan to which they have no privy, why the word of the main character is akin to the word of a god I have no idea. Having watched “Gone With the Wind’ not too long ago, that image of the war and the charm of the Old South is fresh in my mind. Otherwise, I‘m no expert on the era but am happy to say this story didn’t expect much of me. On the other hand, it is peppered with much historical Americana so the buffs will be served a fine dish of lore.

More than the lone star pinned to one man’s chest in “The Law of Moses” I would easily rate this story by Kwen Griffeth with four of five stars. As the story starts with such a bang, or a bang bang bang, there were less bangs to be had as we rode into the sunset with our dark hero. Some very brutal and imaginative moments await as Samuel lays down his version of the law, and I don’t know if it was the near promise of his demise or simply the rage and fearfulness he instilled had been put to pasture. Regardless, the four stars that light this lonely sky come with a good pace, well written theatrical scenery, and just enough levity during a very bleak tale, making this a western worth the whistle-stop.

 

I have taken a position reviewing books from independent authors. While not all are horror, there is a thread of darkness through them regardless of genre. As with honest paid reviews, there will be personal reaction as well as comparative and critical analysis. If you are an author that would like me to review your work, contact me for rates and a summary of your novel, short story, or collection. 

Dead Air Ep 107- Friday The 13th

Gather under the sluice grate, for the latest Dead Air podcast episode has been mucked off the slab ~ http://ift.tt/2tBiChz

And it is a special one too! Not only is this a commentary track for the mommy of all slashers, it is Wes’ birthday and our birthday. So grab a slice of cake or a camp counselor and let’s get down to the lake!

Kill her, mommy! Today is our birthday and with it comes a very special special episode of Dead Air. We take you through the 1980 slasher masterpiece, Friday the 13th, as a commentary track!

Gather ’round campers and we’ll weave you a tale of a mother who loves her son, and a camp that will forever be cursed by his name.

Wes and Lydia will not only talk through every minute of this film but also tell you when they first encountered one of the most famous and influential slashers ever made.

So, string your bows, grab your knives, fire up the generator and if you don’t mind, make us some coffee! We’re the messengers of God, and you’re all, DOOMED!

via IFTTT

typicalbook – Reverence by Joshua A. Landeros

For fans of bloody, all-out war fought with technology that we can only dream of today, “Reverence” by Joshua Landeros has it, in spades. Even the most casual action fan will be caught up in the pace, so it’s not one to skip even if you feel out of place on the battlefield. From literature, humanity, religion and love – this future-Earth is only a few decades removed from the planet we know now.

Will and Luis are our main soldiers in this raging campaign of a debut novel. Having human names helps, as they are more properly referred to as Unit 21 and Unit 18 respectively. Being early builds of the United Nations Republic elite Super Soldiers, these cyborgs blur the line between man and machine readily. They blur it with blood, whip-crack wit, volleys of machine gun fire, raw emotion, strength and most of all; a succinct and perhaps higher evolved sense of right and wrong. Now, that is not entirely programming. This is where the line blurs in the best of ways.

Having held off past attacks from rebel armies looking to infiltrate and decimate the UNR, the cyborgs rally alongside the vast human army and make gory shrapnel of anyone in their way. While Luis, his counterpart, may come across as the more psychopathic of the two, he shows much turmoil when his close female companion, Bia, comes under fire. He will risk directives and his own safety for her, making him a near liability. Not as much of a liability as Will, however, as the reader will readily learn. Here is where the true nut of the story lies, aside from Luis’ apparent weakness for his lover, Will has his own all too human weaknesses and what could be seen as a glitch. Under the watchful eyes of Doctor Krenzler and Chancellor Venloran, his programming and physical systems have been assessed and reset after hibernation between battles. One thing is overlooked: his memories. Not only does the nature of these memories pose a risk to Will, but they feed a fixation on a past he can’t recall and could very well be an artefact of his cyborg mind. With the threat of mass slaughter with the upheaval of government, and his temper tested by his own doubt, he is named second in command; taking the weight of the world on his metal and synthetic shoulders.

Many will revel in the military jargon within “Reverence” and Landeros deftly peppers in more weapons and machinery that you could shake an assault rifle at, but it never feels exclusionary. Without patronizing the readers who have no knowledge or interest in armaments the conversation and montage surrounding the tools of the trade come across quite naturally, and woven into the story well. As with the life of a career soldier – something few can truly understand from the outside – it too is woven in, making the stories of the men and women we meet here very relatable.

Crossing into horror, as civil war tends to do, there are many scenes with explicit gore. Violence is never outside of the task at hand, nor would it be seen as gratuitous. Much of the fighting follows a cinematic fluidity too, as well-written action does at it’s best. As with talk of human emotion coming from a cyborg, the blood and bone is used as a result of the situations. These machines are thrust into some very human realities. Be it grappling with deep feelings, controlling emotion or how to best incapacitate a room of trained fighters who want their head on a platter – Luis and Will dole out philosophy as readily as pain. That they are designed and programmed killing machines comes as no surprise, but how much of them that comes across as painfully human is refreshing. It could be seen as a shortcut in a way, to keep from having to write in a machine mind, and use literary and plot tactics that are far more relatable… and it works. But then, are the stories we tell of machines can be seen as reflections of ourselves caught in the chrome mirror that makes their flesh at the worst of times. At their best, our better, faster, stronger progeny may offer an unclouded view.

Much of this could grind, rusted, to a halt on the page if it were not for an easy yet never too casual writing style. A highly digestible read, there were no overstayed forays into romance or comedy as too many action packed science fiction stories meander there. Nor is it all dry bureaucracy or blood soaked carnage page after page. One of many things the novel offers is balance.

With the precision of style, compelling relationships and very well crafted roles – of both human and machine – I’d rate this a very high four and a half stars of five. The only shortcoming is not an illness of the story at all, but it could have been longer. The last few chapters wrap up deceptively neatly. Not so neat as to belie the sequels, but for all of the truly careful storytelling up until a series of face-offs and revelations, a few could have done with a little more conversation perhaps. Something more to gnaw on would be nice, even after a veritable buffet where room after room becomes a smorgasbord of mangled meat. “Reverence” is a very strong, and highly enjoyable dark adventure that serves as a bridge between carnage and technology:  Something that readers of horror, war, fantasy, science fiction or westerns could enjoy.

 

I have taken a position reviewing books from independent authors. While not all are horror, there is a thread of darkness through them regardless of genre. As with honest paid reviews, there will be personal reaction as well as comparative and critical analysis. If you are an author that would like me to review your work, contact me for rates and a summary of your novel, short story, or collection.