Review: Deadman’s Road by Joe. R. Lansdale

The Reverend Jedidiah Mercer returns with the re-release of the highly influential pulp novel, Dead in the West, and four stories, one never before collected, one brand new. Contained herein are the Reverend’s adventures with zombies, ghouls, werewolves, Lovecraftian monsters and kobolds. Western action blends with grisly horror and ribald humor for a super collection of shoot-outs and fang-outs, claws and crawling horrors, and lessons about an angry, unforgiving god and methods for killing nasties of all kinds.

In Dead in the West, the Reverend faces a resurrected American Indian out for vengeance. Not only is the man back from the dead, he’s brought back others as servants, and they are angry, hungry little devils when there is an absence of light. Plenty of surprises, laughs, gross-outs and slimy horrors, with a slam bang ending. This novel inspired numerous writer to cross the West with Horror, Action, Humor, and a wobbly moral sensibility.

This first adventure of the Reverend sets up all the others, which include:

‘Deadman s Road.’ The Reverend, on his mission from God, encounters a ghoul who waits on a dark road for travelers so that he can feed his belly and his crippled soul.

‘The Gentleman’s Hotel.’ The Reverend encounters a town, empty except for the lone survivor of a stage coach attack. Together, they face ghosts and werewolf Conquistadores who can not only transform into toothy adversaries, but also into dust and moths and are a real pain in the ass; all of it results in one hell of a cross-draw, dagnabbed, hair belly confrontation.

‘The Crawling Sky.’ In an isolated cabin the Reverend and an unwilling partner face a Lovecraftian horror with a nasty attitude and mind blowing abilities.

And finally, in ‘The Dark Down There,’ the Reverend and an unlikely partner, a three hundred pound lady named Flower, battle kobolds who cannibalize miners and serve a Queen that at a glance could pass for spoiled tapioca pudding. The Reverend even manages a glancing chance at a kind of backwoods romance.

Deadman’s Road by Joe R. Lansdale. Narrated by Stefan Rudnick. Published by Skyboat Media, Inc., May 2014. Run time is 8 hours and 17 minutes.

*Trigger Warning: animal deaths, (talk of) rape *

Now these are some western stories I can totally get behind!! Zombies, ghosts, and werewolves, oh MY! And of course, cowboys. Yes, yes, yes and thank you! What a fun collection of short stories.

What I really love about Deadman’s Road is that you can tell how much Joe loves – and gets- the pulps of yesteryear. He modernized the pulp stories, but kept the spirit of those old pulp novels alive (or maybe undead). He talks about how he hates to be called a “pulp writer,” but he really is fantastic at capturing that style and emotion. Embrace it, Joe! πŸ™‚

I can not express it enough have how entertaining these stories are. I had such a great time listening to this audiobook. When it was over, I just wanted to go and restart it from the beginning again. Each story was terrific. The settings and characters all felt so real. I did not care for all the horse death though. :/ I normally take off a point for animal death, but these stories were so much fun, that I might have to make a rare exception this one time. The narrator is absolutely on point for the gritty style of the westerns. Everything felt just right.

Joe talks about how one of the stories was written to be a movie, and almost became one. Man, I wish it had indeed happened! Zombies in the old west, by JOE, would be epic for sure. How disappointing that it never came to be. Maybe one day it could still happen. πŸ˜€

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