Sunday, June 2, 2024

A Thing Immortal: A Tale of Western Horror by Barry K Gregory

I'm a huge fan of indie books. I've found, of late, that the stories I encounter in them are often far more inventive and unconventional than what I find with their traditionally published brethren. A Thing Immortal by Barry K Gregory is one such book. This story is a glorious mashup of the American West that exists only in popular culture with horror – that's the best way to explain it. I picked it up last year when it was a contender in SPFBO.

Gregory plays loose and fast with history to concentrate rather on a story of gradually unfolding mystery and dark terrors, as we follow the doings of a small handful of characters that include a Native man who can fly on borrowed wings, an old gunslinger, a Black bounty hunter, and a mysterious girl. Oh, and a massive spirit wolf. 

I think what I liked the most about the story was that it didn't pull its punches. There's some seriously dark stuff happening here, reminiscent of early Stephen King, that left me feeling gritty behind the eyes. And I liked the fact that Gregory doesn't explain everything – he leaves much up for me to fill in the gaps, which is something else I appreciate. Yeah, so Trigger Warning time, there is some seriously Bad Stuff that happens to the girl (as can be expected in the context of the story's setting), but it's not on screen so to speak (thank dog) but if mention of this sort of thing in a story does bother you, perhaps this one is not for you. Beyond that, the setting is pretty brutal in how all minorities are handled, so be warned, there are people doing and saying things that wouldn't fly in a more civilised setting.

This is a solid read, and while there were a few little typo gremlins here and there, they didn't harm my overall enjoyment of a solid story that wraps with an almost Gaimanesque conclusion.

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