15 May 2020

Review || Train of Blood by R.C. Rumple



One of the last wagon trains heads west facing numerous dangers. The wagon master has dealt with most on previous trips ... disgruntled travel companions, terrible weather, deadly reptiles, vicious wild animals ... all common to him. Yet, there is a new beast stalking in the darkness. A creature created by the magic of the medicine men of numerous tribes, more savage and dangerous than he's ever faced. Will any survive? 


 

One thing that's amazing about being a reader is that you also get to discover new things about yourself. One of those things that I recently realized about myself is that I love horror westerns. Who knew?! 

Through the years, there have been some great movies that I enjoyed that exemplify what the horror western genre is so I shouldn't be surprised that I enjoy the same in literature. Bone Tomahawk is a fantastic example of a western horror movie that I loved. You only have to look at Kurt Russell and his magnificent bewhiskered face to know that the Old West is alive. Train of Blood, while only 80 pages for the Kindle version, manages to pack that same rough, squinty-eyed, grit in your teeth Western feel—only this time, humans aren't the only thing in the dark. 

Train of Blood starts with an explosive, grisly bang as Wagon Master Grant tells the cautionary tale of a boy who accidentally wandered off from the wagon train and met a horrible end. It's important that we understand why Grant is telling this story. It's his job as Wagon Master to get the wagon train to the destination, but he can't do his job if people won't listen to him. He's a strong character, weathered and worn. He's thinking this might just be his last trip. Isn't it time for him to settle down?

The wagon train has all kinds of obstacles. Mud and muck are troublesome enough but when you add human fallibility to the equation, there's no end to the difficulties that can arise. Grant handles it all: the grumbling, pouring rain, rattlesnake dens—though there are some human casualties. That comes with the territory, doesn't it? And what else comes with the territory when you are taking a wagon train from Oklahoma City to California? Indians. Of course, these are no conventional Indians. Motivated to push back against the encroaching white men and their lies, each tribe sent their medicine men and bravest warriors to convene. They succeeded in concocting some serious magic and conceived shapeshifters of the braves, brutal creatures capable of ripping a man apart. 

When I say this was a short read, I don't just mean the page count. I was captivated by the story. The wolf-like shapeshifters honestly aren't what drove the story for me. The characterization, environmental hazards, and the integrity of the Wagon Master enthralled and entertained me for the brief span of time it took to inhale this novella. I've not read anything else by R.C. Rumple, but I will most definitely keep an eye out for any of his future delvings into the horror western genre. He took what could have been a plodding storyline and made it into so much more.