Lemme give you the premise first: Damnation is a town where dead cowboys go, and other people, too, folks who weren’t good enough in life to earn a pass into Heaven but weren’t so lousy that they go straight to Hell, either. It’s a sort of purgatory, where the streets are always dusty, it is always dusk, if you get shot a second time you DO go straight to hell but if you can abstain from killing anyone for a year you get to go to Heaven. At least those are the theories. No one has ever made it a year, to test that one about going to Heaven. And rather than dusk, it might just be predawn. No one in damnation really knows. Oh, and there’s a pack of werewolves there. And one ornery vampire. And a pregnant woman who drowned herself, but strangely enough is still pregnant when she comes to Damnation. Pregnant with the only living soul in the entire realm–and the only source of fresh, living blood.
Remember those old FAR SIDE comic strips collectively labeled “Trouble Brewin'”? Yep. There’s a recipe for some serious trouble, right there.
I’m always skittish when I receive a new work to review. More often than not, the manuscript ends up not being to my tastes–in blunter terms, it sucks–and as I owe it to my readers to be honest, I have to give it a bad review. I feel bad, though. I know how much work goes into writing a book. I’ve even had people, after I gave their book a lousy or lukewarm review, send me nasty emails in reply, or else try to make me feel guilty by telling me all their travails in life, and how getting a book published was their one dream, the one thing they lived for, and how could I be so heartless?!?! So yeah, I’m nervous when I start reading a new book for review purposes. If I end up liking the book in question, it’s a pleasant surprise. Never before, though, have I been sent a book to review that I absolutely LOVED.
Never, that is, until now.
Friends, get yourselves a copy of DAWN IN DAMNATION by Clark Casey. It works as a Thriller, it serves as a proper Horror fable, it’s a nifty mystery of sorts, and it is bitingly funny. I would say that it constitutes a literary rarity in that it is written from the “second person” perspective. The narrator, the town of Damnation’s sole newspaperman, is hardly the main character. That would be either Buddy, the loveable dead gunfighter, or Nigel the temperamental but ultimately goodhearted vampire. All the characters are a hoot, though, and Casey manages to capture the standard “cowboy” mode of speech perfectly without it becoming distracting or annoying.
DAWN IN DAMNATION kept me up too late reading a couple of nights in a row. I thoroughly enjoyed it–and, for what it’s worth, I’m really picky where such fare is concerned. My only complaint is that the story ends on something of a cliffhanger–but that only means there will be a sequel forthcoming, which is something to celebrate. I give this one two enthusiastic thumbs up. It’s just plain FUN.