Book three in Death’s Head Press’s Splatter Western line takes the series in a fun new direction, bringing some cosmic horror to the wild west. It’s an unusual but inspired melding of two seemingly disparate genres that sets Dust apart from what has come before (and after) it.
James Dee is looking for the town of Dust. It is a place few have heard of, and even fewer have seen, but it is home to horrors greater than a man can comprehend. James Dee, however, is no ordinary man and he is on a mission to kill the evil gods that threaten the world itself.
Gear Dreary is also searching for Dust, but he aims to use these cosmic powers for his own nefarious purposes, harnessing them to gain ultimate knowledge of the universe. When the pair meet, there will be more at stake than just their lives. When they arrive at Dust, their battle will settle the fate of mankind.
Of all the Splatter Western books to date, Dust felt the most cinematic. Miller’s style of writing and pacing, ending each chapter with a cliffhanger or a pithy one-liner, sets a very vivid picture and it was tantalizingly easy to imagine this as an epic horror western movie. Hollywood; take note!
When I was reading Dust there seemed to be a great deal of backstory for the lead that was being hinted at but never fully explored. I’ve since realized that this book ties into Miller’s Damned series of books and, while I’ve never read these myself, existing fans will no doubt appreciate the link, whereas new readers (like me) get enough to make Dust a satisfying standalone. If, however, you are left wanting more, it is exciting to have these books to visit to scratch that itch.
The only real issue I had with the novel is the way the antagonists are presented. Gear Dreary never really feels like a viable threat to Dee, and the wider cosmic villain in the town of Dust is, visually at least, genuinely unsettling, but the lore is never really made clear. Dreary’s companion, Mr. Bonham, is a potentially interesting character who never quite gets the space to develop and I couldn’t help feel there was some wasted potential with him, and the villains of the piece in general.
Dust is one of the most fun of the Splatter Western series to date and offers a genuinely unique premise by mixing Lovecraftian terrors, sci-fi and fantasy as well as the promised western set horror. While the balance of power between characters never feels quite right, taking the edge off in terms of tension, it is nevertheless a thoroughly entertaining book and more than worthy of its place amongst some of the best this series has offered horror fans to date.
Dust by Chris Miller
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1879: An unknown and timeless evil descends on East Texas. James Dee, bestowed with knowledge from beyond, moves through time and space, pursuing age-old horrors and ending their reign.
Description1879: An unknown and timeless evil descends on East Texas. James Dee, bestowed with knowledge from beyond, moves through time and space, pursuing age-old horrors and ending their reign. As he seeks the hidden town of Dust to continue his lifework, another is hot on his heels, and will stop at nothing to rip the divine knowledge from Dee. As these opposing forces collide, Dee becomes both hero and villian in his quest against the Elders.He doesn’t have time to be sorry–THERE ARE GODS TO KILL (All Splatter Western books are stand-alone stories. Read them in whatever order you please!)