Reviewed by Scott A. Johnson
Written by Eric S. Brown
Published by Pill Hill Press
Two types of movies I love: Horror and Westerns. Leave it to Eric S. Brown to mash the two together into something that is fast-paced, full of energy, and pretty damned fun with How the West Went to Hell.
The story involves that classic “a stranger comes to town” vibe when Nathan, dressed in the obligatory black outfit, comes calling. There’s a monster on his heels, a demon bent on unmaking everything that God has wrought and will do it by infecting every man, woman, and child (who isn’t killed and eaten) with his evil. It’s a bit like Tails From the Crypt: Demon Knight meets Silverado, but much shorter.
Brown doesn’t beat around the bush here, considering what little space he has to tell his story. Honestly, the novella is ninety-four pages long, the kind of book that could be read on a bus ride, which makes the price seem a little steep. However, the story gallops along at a break-neck pace as lizard-skinned demons do their best to tear the heroes apart and end the world before the West can become civilized. Brown captures the feel of the Old West and works well with character development, despite the low page count.
This is a book that begs to be made into a Sci-Fi Channel (no, I won’t call it by that other asinine name) feature with all its cheesy goodness. But as a book, the biggest (read: only) complaint is in its length. Brown deftly shows that his story is engaging and interesting. It’s a book that could’ve easily gone to novel length without any hope of damage. I wanted to see back story, details, more characters, motivations. Instead I was left wanting more, but not in the good way. In fact, the book is enjoyable to the point of distraction, which makes it all the more disappointing that Brown didn’t make it a novel-length book.
In all, it’s worth a read. It’s very enjoyable, but it’s just too damned short. For a writer with the talent of Brown, anything less than novel-length isn’t enough. If he were to put out a longer, fuller version, I’m sure it would be a (forgive me) rip-roarin’ success.
3 out of 5
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