Book Review: Red Winter by Kathleen McFall and Clark Hays

12983470Title: Red Winter
Author: Clark Hays, co-author Kathleen McFall
Genre: Horror, Supernatural, Western, Novella
Publisher: Pumpjack Press
Publication Date: August 13th 2011
Rating: 4 stars
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The year is 1890. Sheriff Early Hardiman has seen a lot of bad things in his life, but nothing could have prepared him for the first Vampire to visit the Old West. Fans of The Cowboy and the Vampire know that LonePine will see its share of Vampires in another 120 years. But in 1890, no one had yet imagined the kind of terror Jericho Whistler brings with him to Wyoming when he hunkers down for a long winter of feasting on humans.

Red Winter is an eBook novella set in the universe and time period of the first published novel of writers duo Kathleen McFall and Clark Hays: The Cowboy and The Vampire. It’s perfectly readable as a stand-alone book as well, the way I did it. I’m planning on reading The Cowboy and The Vampire as well, because I thoroughly enjoyed this novella, but time issues are currently holding me back. Anyway, let’s get going with the review!

At roughly 30 pages, Red Winter is a fast read, but it’s definitely not an easy read. The authors have a large vocabulary at their disposal, and they’re not afraid to use complicated words when necessary. Also, they have mastered that typical western-language perfectly and it shows in this novella. You feel like you’re thrown right back to the time of cowboys, Billy the Kid, Lucky Luke and who ever else wanders around in that era. They catch the vibe of the era so perfectly that I felt ready to go find my rifle and kill some vampires.

I can’t give you much background story without giving away the entire plot, but I’ll give it a shot. We meet Sheriff Early who is asked to go take a look at a dead body. Now, dead bodies are pretty common in the far west, but this one looks particularly gruesome. Back at home with his wife Grace, Early meets a stranger named Jericho Whistler. They play a game of cards until Early is told there has been another murder. This time a hooker was slaughtered in her bedroom, the corpse so heavily mutilated even Early has trouble not spilling the contents of his stomach. The town’s people are certain now: there is a murderer in their midst. All strangers are suspects, and Early gets an especially eerie feeling from Jericho Whistler. Then Jericho attacks Grade, Early’s wife…

Since it’s a short book this review will be pretty short as well. I liked the characters. Sheriff Early was like this typical western hero and Jericho was an excellent villain with no remorse whatsoever. There isn’t much character development, which is common in a book this size. The book is mostly plot-driven as well, and I liked the plot. There were definitily some unexpected twists and turns that had me gasping in awe. The writing is superb as well.

If you like vampires, you should try out Red Winter. It’s a short but eerie and gruesome story that fits right into the horror category. Gone are the silly sparkly vampires, back is the vampire who scares even the bravest souls. I will certainly read The Cowboy and The Vampire after reading this eBook novella. My only complaint? I wanted to read more about this, so I would’ve liked Red Winter to be longer! In any case, definitely recommended for everyone who likes vampires the way they should be – cruel, vicious, mean and deadly.

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