Book Review: Chance Damnation, A Tale of the Weird West
Chance Damnation, A Tale of the Weird West by DeAnna Knippling
From the synopsis ~ One little girl. Buffalo-demons stampede out of the earth to steal one little half-blood girl, and everything changes. Aloysius’s little brother Jerome goes missing with her–two inseparable kids whose friendship is damned from the beginning–as demons replace the newly dead.
A priest with a tainted Bible. A brother with a taste for blood and demon flesh. A fool with a passion for the machinery of Hell. Only Aloysius and his brothers can see the transformation–and there’s not a damned thing they can do about it. Then Jerome returns: he has found a way down into the demons’ Hell, where they twist the little girl’s tortured dreams into a paradise of their own, a place to escape the demons who, in turn, haunt them.
What worked for me. Knippling's prose is quick, visceral and surprising. The setting, in the 1960's of a reservation border town is fresh in regards to the weird western genre and I truly have to admit that I had no idea where the story was going. For me as a nitpicky writer this was something else because I am always predicting what is going to happen in near everything I read or see. Chance Damnation is original.
What I didn't like. I just could not bring myself to root for the characters-there are a lot of colorful characters with their own back stories that Knippling deftly weaves into the story (no infodumps) But I didn't like them, and thus didn't care about them. That and the demons seem to die too easily, it made me feel like where is the mounting danger? Sure, the demons becoming doppelgangers for the towns recently deceased is pretty creepy, but overall it seemed that killing a buffalo demon was a bit too easy.
This may just be a case of taste with the reader, (I fully admit to personally preferring a different stereotypical type of character) and it isn't like Knippling hasn't fleshed them out-she does-they just aren't my kind. Most seemed a bit ignorant, foolish and racist. I hardly felt that the preacher really knew much of anything about the gospel. I would have liked to have seen a stronger Native American presence considering the setting (the main young girl, Celeste Marie is called a half-breed in the tale) but oh well.
You can check out the first chapter here and order a copy here.
David J. West writes dark fantasy and weird
westerns because the voices in his head won’t quiet until someone else can hear
them. He is a great fan of sword & sorcery, ghosts and lost ruins, so of
course he lives in Utah in with his wife and children.
The Heroes, by Joe Abercrombie This Crooked Way, by James Enge The Arabian Nightmare, by Robert Irwin The Darkeness that Comes Before, by R. Scott Bakker Tides of War, by Steven Pressfield Night of Knives, by Ian C. Esselmont The Pirate King, by R. A. Salvatore Deadhouse Gates, by Steven Erikson El Borak, by Robert E. Howard Swords Aginst Death, by Fritz Leiber Lies of Locke Lamora, by Scott Lynch Lord of the Silver Bow, by David Gemmell Bloodstone, by Karl Edward Wagner
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