Monday 25 November 2013

The Ravine.

Friday nights as a kid always meant one thing - The Virginian on telly. Although I was probably too young to fully appreciate the storylines, it must have sparked something within me, generating a love of westerns that continues to this day. My love of horror developed a bit later but it too has grown and developed over the years in parallel. What could be better then than a horror/western fusion, a combination of my two favourite genres? Well, not a lot actually.
The Ravine is William Meikle's latest novel published in a variety of formats by Dark Regions Press, following on from their last collaboration, the immensely entertaining (and wonderfully produced - the hardback edition truly is a thing of beauty) Sherlock Holmes: The Quality of Mercy. 
Part of the joy of genre fiction is the familiarity of its conventions, there's some comfort to be derived from reading a story where we immediately know what the characters are going to be like. Using stereotypes, archetypes even can be lazy writing though, and it takes real skill to use them in such a way that they bring a knowing smile to the reader but still endow them with enough depth for the reader to care about them and what happens to them. William Meikle does this and that's what makes his books such a joy to read.
Mysterious gunslinger? Yes. Noble cavalry officer? Yup. Rancher down on his luck? Oh yes. The Ravine has them all. What it also has are angels, demons and zombies, oh, and some very weird fish. Chuck all those elements together and you end up with a cracking tale of adventure and horror with some brilliantly effective set-pieces. What you also get is a tale of honour and redemption - the story could have been set in any time period or location but the western setting is perfect for it, a harsh environment where men, and women, very often had to do what men, and women had to do.
I loved The Ravine, and heartily recommend it.

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