Sunday, January 8, 2012

Noteworthy Reads: DUST OF THE DAMNED by Peter Brandvold

Are you ready for the wildest, weirdest, rip-snortingest Western adventure ever to gallop hell-for-leather off the printed page? If so, then DUST OF THE DAMNED is what you've been waiting for! Be warned, though: No matter how much you may think you're prepared for this full-tilt ride into the darker side of the Old West … author Brandvold has some shocks and surprises in store for you.

Start with a bit of alternative history. In order to win the Civil War, President Lincoln struck a deal with evil forces from Europe and recruited the Hell's Angels, a pack of bloodthirsty werewolves, to come over and ravage the Confederate forces. They held up that part of the bargain—but the rest, the agreement that they would return to Europe after the war was over, the Angels reneged on. Instead, they fled to the wild, wide open West where they proceeded to turn the frontier wilder and bloodier than ever.
Jump ahead a decade and a half. The West is now overrun with shape-shifters and ghouls of every kind—werewolves, vampires (called swillers), hobgoblins, and various other horrors. It is the work of men like bounty hunter Uriah Zane, armed with an assortment of specialized weapons, to hunt down and kill these monsters. For reasons of personal revenge and also due to a dark secret known only to himself, Zane is uniquely qualified for this job. However, when Charlie Hondo and three other members of the original Hell's Angels escape from Hellsgarde prison, aided by a beautiful Mexican witch and the devastating dragon she has conjured with her demonic powers, the threat they represent may be a challenge too great even for the renowned Zane. But, along with lovely U.S. Marshal Angel Coffin, Zane is willing to ride into Hell itself if that's what it takes to stop Hondo's savage horde.

This is a big, sweeping novel that is by turns imaginative, boisterous, fun, and frightening. But the real key to what makes it work is the writing skill of Peter Brandvold. His imagery of the landscape is sometimes gritty, sometimes breathtaking, always spot-on captivating. And it is this foundation—a polished writer of strong traditional Westerns injecting horror into his storyline, as opposed to the other way around—that adds to the impact of this terrific yarn.

Saddle up and go along for the ride. You won't be sorry you did.

I've been waiting for this book for the better part of a year --- ever since Peter first told me about in an e-mail, and then discussed it further over lunch and a few beers at a downtown Fort Collins bar. Needless to say, I am not disappointed. And, speaking of beer, Peter claims that only Pabst Blue Ribbon was involved when he first thought up the bare bones for this plot ...

Persevere --- WD

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