Written by: Joe Hempel
From the Back: Beware when the vampires come to town.
When traveling actors recruited his wife for a plum role, Cody Wilson had no idea they would murder her. Twelve-year-old Willet Black was just as devastated the night the fiends slaughtered everyone he loved. Now Cody and Willet are bent on revenge, but neither of them suspects what they’re really up against.
For the actors are vampires. Their thirst for human blood is insatiable. Even if word of their atrocities were to spread, it would take an army to oppose them. But it is 1885 in the wilds of New Mexico, and there is no help for Cody and Willet. The two must battle the vampires—alone—or die trying.
The heartbreaking story of Cody Wilson will have you on the edge of your seat. It’s a story about courage, it’s a story about revenge, and ultimately redemption. It’s also a story about vampires.
But wait; vampires you say? Don’t they sparkle? Don’t they lust after high school boys and girls 150 years younger than themselves? Not in this story! Jonathan Janz creates vampires the way they were meant to be! They are horrific creatures that want nothing more than to make your life a living hell while feasting on your flesh.
First and foremost, this is a western, taking place in the 1880’s in New Mexico. Typical of western novels are strong characters and descriptive locations. Early on you get attached to the characters of Cody Wilson, and his companion Willet. Through flashback scenes you learn how these two characters came together in the first scenes of the novel. This gives you really great insight into Cody Wilson and his actions throughout the novel. He sort of has an internal struggle between himself, his father’s voice, and the voice of his ex-wife, killed by the vampires after posing as a troupe of actors.
The descriptions used really set the mood and the tone of each scene being set up. For instance; “A few minutes later they were on the road to Mesquite, the ghostly rind of moon attending them like a newly sharpened sickle.” Not only does this set a macabre scene as the travelers are heading to a new town, but it also foreshadows events to come (either purposely or not.)
The villains, the Dust Devils are easy to hate. Sometimes in books you can kind of root for the bad guy at times. There is nothing redeemable about Adam Price and his band. While hating them from the very beginning, I found myself finding new ways to absolutely find these vampires deplorable.
Now that you have the characters, and you have the setup, the action follows in such a natural way that you are finished with the book before you know it. The book, divided into three parts, almost tells three distinct stories, delving deeper and deeper into the priorities and mindset of Cody Wilson. With Jonathan’s extraordinary use of prose, each scene is very easy to play out in your mind. They say that books are movies in your mind, and this is no exception. Even more so than other books I’ve read. All of the action, and all of the interactions are described incredibly well without bogging down the pacing of the book. The climactic ending of the second act and the extremely entertaining finale of the book scream to be on the big screen.
The Bottom Line: Entertaining is an understatement. I had so much fun reading this book, that when I started, I looked up and lost about 3 hours in what seemed like 30 minutes. Likeable, and detestable characters, familiar, yet exotic use of the old west setting and action that pulls you from your seat makes this one book that could be read again and again.
This is an easy 5 out of 5 stars from me.
Look for this to hit bookshelves and your favorite digital eBook dealer on February 4th, 2014!