Red Station by Kenzie Jennings

There is a house overlooking the vast, rolling plains. A home station where a traveler will be welcomed with a piping hot meal and a downy bed.

It is a refuge for the weary. A beacon for the lost.

A place where blood and bones feed the land.

For four stagecoach passengers…

…a doctor in search of a missing father and daughter…
…a newlywed couple on the way to their homestead…
…and a lady in red with a bag filled with secrets…

Their night at the Station has only just begun.

The IndieMuse Review

“It was the hour of fresh blood, and the land was ravenous.”

The opening sentence of Kenzie Jennings’s new book, Red Station, part of Death’s Head Press’s ‘Splatter Western’ series, is perhaps my favorite opener of any book I have read this year. What I particularly like, other than it being a great line, is it also works as a declaration of what the reader is in for over the next 146 pages.

Four weary travellers pull into a house seeking temporary respite from the sweltering heat and neverending plains of the old west. Weary and hungry, the owners offer them a comfortable room and a hot meal for the night.

What at first appears to be an act of kindness soon transpires to be the beginning of the traveller’s worst nightmare. Isolated and trapped against overwhelming odds, a night at Red Station may turn out to be their last.

This wasn’t my first Kenzie Jennings book (I previously reviewed her debut novel, Reception) but it was the first of the ‘Splatter Western’ line that I have tried (of which this is book seven). If Red Station is any indication of the standard, then it appears I have some serious catching up to do.

While I fully admit that a city dweller such as myself (and an English one at that) may not be the best judge of these things, the dialogue and the setting all felt very authentically Old West and it was very evocative of the westerns I’ve grown up watching. I certainly got the impression that Jennings has done a lot of homework to make the book feel like the real deal and it absolutely pays off.

Much like ReceptionRed Station builds slowly until the midway point, after which all hell breaks loose. I like that we get to spend so much time getting to know the characters, and setting up the threat until the full extent of what is going on is revealed to us suddenly and without warning. It works very effectively and makes the stakes matter when things get going. There is a particular scene towards the middle of the book where all the characters are at a dinner table and we, the reader, suspect something isn’t quite right. The protagonists also think something’s amiss, and we start to get clued in on small but telling observations, and the tension just builds and builds until I had to stop reading and remember to breathe.

Anyone who feels cheated by the slow burn first half can rest assured that they get their full books worth of the promised ‘splatter’ in the finale. For a relatively short book, there is certainly an impressive body count, especially considering they don’t start piling up until the midway point. Red Station reads like The Devil’s Rejects in the wild west and the brutality is just as intense as you’d expect based on that comparison.

Horror westerns are not a genre I can say I’ve read a great deal of in the past but Kenzie Jennings has made a convert of me. If you are yet to give the Splatter Western series a try, Red Station is a highly recommended jumping on point.

RICHARD MARTIN

Richard started reading horror books at a young age, starting with R L Stine’s ‘Goosebumps’ and ‘Point Horror’ series. He traumatised himself at the age of twelve when he read Stephen King’s ‘IT’, and never looked back. He is currently based in the UK, where he lives with his partner, and an inappropriate amount of books.

2 reviews for Red Station by Kenzie Jennings

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  1. Matilda Rabago  

    This was a fun, easy read with many twist and turns. I enjoyed it a lot!

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  2. Reiko Parman  

    One of my favorite books of the year so far!

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