Dust of the Damned by Peter Brandvold
My rating: 2.5 of 5 stars
If you like your Weird West horror Cinemax After Dark-style, you will enjoy this book. Dust of the Damned reminds me of the Longarm westerns I used to read sex scenes out of when I was a kid. Just add some supernatural elements, and there you have it. Plenty of sex and violence, and more sex and violence. Shaken, not stirred.
I found this book too trashy for my tastes. I think there is a way to do sex and violence where it doesn't come off sleazy, but this book doesn't achieve that goal. I really dislike having to write negative reviews, but sometimes you just don't like books and have valid reasons for it.
I don't like to leave books unfinished, so I slugged away (plus the hero's name starts with a U and I need a U hero). And while I didn't enjoy this book that much, it wasn't all bad. The idea of Lincoln employing werewolves to win the War Between the States (and it backfiring) was an interesting twist. The werewolf mythology when not played for cheap thrills was interesting. It has some good western action, and it has some of the character types you expect in a book of this genre. But there was a heavy hand with the violence, and the sex seemed to be on the exploitative side.
The descriptions of the characters reminded me of a low-budget soft-core with violence movie. The author tended to write the female characters in a way that felt very objectifying, and simultaneously the male character descriptions (with the exception of our larger-than-life, oh so manly hero) were largely repellant. Uriah Zane is a fairly likable hero, although I felt that his attributes were described in a way that spoke of godlike awe (or so the reader is supposed to feel) from the unseen narrator. Angel, who is the local female marshal and Uriah's sometime lover was admirably tough and heroic, but I felt like she could have been played by Shannon Tweed, Joan Severance, or Bobbie Phillips (three good actresses who have starred in their share of sex-ploitation films) in the 90s movie version. There were more sex scenes in this book than the average romance novel (which are all labeled as trashy romance, most of which are actually not this trashy). They brought mind the Emanuelle movies from the 80s, at least to me.
I think the idea of a group of werewolf bandidos on a rampage of violence felt authentic to the feel of a weird western adventure (which is why I wanted to read it). There is even a suitably evil and bodaciously sexy witch villainness (if that floats your boat). However, I could have done without the detailed descriptions of these very evil low-lives' actions against their helpless victims, interspersed with 'steamy sex'. These violent scenes also felt exploitative, like the 70s gore galore grindhouse cinematic greats. Lots of gushing stumps from beheaded victims and spilling entrails. Ugh!
Anyhoo. Caveat emptor. There's pulpy and there is sleazy. I think this is more in the sleazy territory. If you're in the mood for this, then you might enjoy Dust of the Damned. If you turn the channel when Tarantino films come on or when Cinemax goes 'dark', then you may want to pass this by.
Overall rating: 2.5/5.0 stars.
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