Book I of the Saga of Dead-Eye: Vampires, Zombies, and Mojo Men
Review by Brennan LaFaro
From the prolific pen of Ronald Kelly comes the first in a series of horror westerns featuring Joshua Wingade, better known as Dead-Eye. Splatter westerns, weird westerns, and westerns tinged with horror have been all the rage over the last few years, so does Kelly have anything new to bring to the genre?
In short, yes.
Splatter Westerns are the most prevalent vehicle to take readers back to the late 1800s, and though many of them make for enjoyable reading (Young’s Magpie Coffin and Jennings’ Red Station stand out as premiere examples) they can often feel like stories readers endure rather than enjoy. Enter Dead-Eye.
Kelly infuses the first book in this series with black humor, never allowing it to take itself too seriously for too long. What really shines here is the balance it strikes. There are truly harrowing moments, especially near the beginning, and Kelly uses these masterfully to develop the character of Dead-Eye, endearing him to the reader before he sets out on his journey. As such, we’re not dragged along, but willing participants there for the ride.
The heart of the story, this chapter of it at least, lies in the interplay between Dead-Eye, navigating some new and unexpected challenges (I’ll leave it at that) and Job, the titular Mojo Man. The relationship has a symbiotic quality, but develops over the course of about 130 pages. When they’re busting each other’s chops, there’s a warm and sincere smile behind the barbs, and it promises to be a fun duo to follow through their misadventures.
Each chapter in Dead-Eye acts as a sort of self-contained short story, pitting our heroes against vicious villains, creepy creatures, and a witch named Evangeline guaranteed to factor heavily into proceedings going forward. Kelly made no secret that Dead-Eye may dip into the Ronald Kelly mythos a tad, and this book wastes no time proving that assertion true.
Packed with great characters, engrossing action, and a guaranteed good time, the only issue with Vampires, Zombies, and Mojo Men will be the wait for book two.