Thursday, September 11, 2014

Book Review: The Ravine by William Meikle

The Ravine by William Meikle

Paperback, 218 pages Published November 19th 2013 by Dark Regions Press

I have seen Meikle’s name around before. I knew he was a Scottish born writer who writes both science fiction and horror often blending both. When I saw that he had a horror western released by Dark Regions Press I thought it was a great place to sample his work.

There is quite a bit to like here, I know at times this review will sound negative but I think Meikle did enough to interest me in his other books. At 212 pages The Ravine is a short novel but to me that is the BEST length for horror novel is around 200 pages. This novel is written with lean no nonsense style with short chapters that reminded me of David Morrell. A few lines of dialogue made me laugh like “What’s the plan?” “Don’t get dead.”

Good plan.

The story of an old west town laid siege by a plague and a spiritual war between angels and demons. My favorite character was the town saloon bouncer a badass named Issac. The novel has a few strong characters like the town Doc but I didn’t really find any of the characters stood out as a hero. There are lots of good moments of suspense,and as a monster novel there are plenty of moments I enjoyed.

So what didn’t like? Well this is a western but several of my favorite elements of the western are MIA in this novel. To me a western fits into the history or tapestry of the period and the environment. This novel failed to connect me as a reader with either element. I am not exactly sure when this takes place, maybe after the civil war as there is a group of Cavalry after all. I am not sure where we are because nothing really gives this story a sense of place.

The atmosphere of the old west is something missing from this novel. At no point did I get a sense of what season it was. Was the ground muddy? Were the characters swatting away flies? Zane Grey was the best at this in the western novel but I felt it was lacking here.

I think libraries should carry this book in their collection and I am sold on reading more of William Meikle’s work. I think this worked more as a horror novel than it did a western. It could have been set anywhere or in any period. I just wish it was more grounded in the west.

No comments: