A folk horror epic about a ragtag posse that must track down a witch through a wild west beset by demons and ghosts―and where death is always just around the bend.
Sadie Grace is wanted for witchcraft, dead (or alive). And every hired gun in Kansas is out to collect the bounty on her head, including bona fide witch hunter Old Tom and his mysterious, mute ward, Rabbit.
On the road to Burden County, they’re joined by two vagabond cowboys with a strong sense of adventure – but no sense of purpose – and a recently widowed school teacher with nothing left to lose. As their posse grows, so too does the danger.
Racing along the drought-stricken plains in a stolen red stagecoach, they encounter monsters more wicked than witches lurking along the dusty trail. But the crew is determined to get that bounty, or die trying.
Written with the devilish cadence of Stephen Graham Jones and the pulse-pounding brutality of Nick Cutter, Red Rabbit is a supernatural adventure of luck and misfortune.
First and foremost, a big thank you to the good people of Tor Nightfire for getting a finished copy over to me.
While Red Rabbit nails its atmospheric nature of the harsh brutality in the Wild West, some aspects are left to be desired. Right out of the gate, we are introduced to a plethora of characters at lightning speed which leaves little time to get to know them on a deeper level than just their actions and decisions. If you’ve been reading my reviews, you’ll know I’m a character-driven kind of gal so this bit of criticism should be a plus for those who prefer plot-focused stories. We learn of Sadie Grace, a supposed witch who has brought death to not only people but crops within Burden County, Kansas. A bounty has been placed on her head which catches the attention of many, most notably Tom Goggins, a witch-master. Accompanying Tom is an injured child by the name of Rabbit whom he claims is a boy, but most recognize as a girl. They gain the assistance of two cowboys, Moses and Ned, to help care for Rabbit’s injuries and aid in their quest. From here, we jump to meet Rose Nettles, a widow who joins this ragtag group because she thinks, why not?
Their journey to put an end to the alleged witch causing trouble up north is filled with many troubling and disturbing perils. If there’s one thing Grecian knocks out of the park, it’s the grotesque adversaries our posse encounters at a frequently high rate. The nucleus of horror within this novel hinges on gross, upsetting imagery and villains lurking around every corner. Given that this novel features characteristics of the Western genre, there are some bleak, dark moments, particularly with cruelty to animals. While I know this is true to the brutality of the times as a means for survival, this was still a tough aspect to read through.
Stylistically, the plot follows the same feelings of a slow, hot day on the Western Front; the pacing of this book is consistent with the feeling of constantly meandering through the dangers that lie in wait. We aren’t given much of a “why” as to the formation of this group until the end of the novel, which even then felt slightly anticlimactic. Many characters are injured or die, yet there is little space even acknowledge their loss among the group.
This novel raised so many interesting facets and details with each character, but the time spent exploring these intricacies was nearly nonexistent. I was particularly interested in both the characters of Sadie Grace and Rose, but minimal details were given as to their personalities and motives. Again, while this is accurate to the time, I wasn’t a fan of the oppressed women narrative in which they are punished for living alone or are forced into marriage given society’s expectations.
Red Rabbit reads a lot like an action movie in the aspect of seeing what you’re getting. Attention and focus are spent building the setting which is truly immersive in its own right. Grecian masterfully builds a harrowing western front filled with dangers only to fill the space with forgettable characters. Despite the disconnect I experienced with the characters, this is still a fun, original concept in which the genres of Western, horror, and fantasy are mashed together. Together they form an interesting world in which the righteous muster the courage to conquer the wicked who wait around every turn.