My maternal grandfather was a big fan of Louis L’Amour and he had a massive assortment of paperback westerns when I was growing up. I developed a deep appreciation for those stories and others, as well as western movies and television as a whole.
The Night Silver River Run Red is absolutely not one of those westerns. Christine Morgan nails the language, the descriptions, and the tone of authentic western authors…but that is where the similarities end.
It starts off like a tale that could have been a Halloween-themed Laura Ingalls Wilder story from her Little House series. Kids in a rapidly depopulating town sneak out together at night to try and catch a glimpse of carnival attractions their puritanical parents oppose. The only element that wouldn’t fit is the presence of a religious cult a short distance outside of town, but I didn’t say it was a perfect comparison.
It doesn’t feel like one of those stories for long anyhow. The violence erupts and any thought that this could have been a western story you might have read while growing up is dispelled quite rapidly and that sense of familiarity never returns…plus, there is a uniquely psychotic rapist named Horsecock in the book, so there’s that.
I can only hope the other Splatter Westerns published by Death’s Head Press are this good…because Christine Morgan expertly weaves her own brand of extreme horror and visceral violence into an almost perfect replica of the pulp westerns a lot of us know quite well.
This is the fourth of the books, but it had to be the first I read, just because of this particular author.
If you are a fan of both horror and western literature, I highly recommend checking out the whole series of Splatter Westerns released by Death’s Head Press. There are currently eight installments to fulfill your filthiest, most bloodthirsty desires.