I’m a huge fan of westerns, they remind me of lazy Sunday afternoons with my father, we’d watch them all – the good, the bad and the ugly (pun intended).
Some of my favourite were High Noon, True Grit, High Plains Drifter, Bad Day at Black Rock, Shane, The Searchers, Bone Tomahawk, Unforgiven, The Magnificent Seven, Stagecoach, The Quick and The Dead, Tombstone, Young Guns – even more recently The Sisters Brothers, The Hateful Eight and the quite brilliant TV show Godless.
I’d say I’m versed in the genre of film, I studied it at university, I dissected them, found the meaning under the skin of the conventions and fluff and what I can tell you is that TC Parker knows westerns too.
This book starts off wonderfully with our protagonist Sasha riding into a town, and Parker wastes no time at putting us smack bang into this beautifully crafted town of Salvation Spring – it a feast for all the senses. It’s something akin to True Grit in tone that opening and also had me thinking of Donald Ray Pollock’s ‘The Heavenly Table’ which for me is the closet thing to perfect a book can be. Anyway Parker paints this place wonderfully and we soon find ourselves at home with this small cast of characters and Salvation Spring.
But things are not quite what they seem and if you’ve read Parker’s work before you know that, you should know that – things are going to get crazy and weird and a bit (especially this book) cosmic – also this book is written in a different style than her previous books, the structure of the prose is not like her other offerings and in places it didn’t sound like her at all – but that is a huge compliment because Parker has the chops to change things up, a masterful way of telling a story a completely different way and that should be applauded.
I’m not going to say much more, because if I do I’m likely to give away some spoilers and because this is such a small book I don’t want to do that and I also want you, the reader to discover this truly magical western.
I will say this though – there are some disgusting scenes in this, mutilated bodies, bodies with things growing out of them, things covering them and Parker made me squirm – and if you’ve read my work you know I’m usually the one making people squirm! These descriptions are fabulous and it only serves in causing you to imagine the horrors that our protagonists are seeing and you can’t get them out of your head once they’re in there – I need soap to wash my eyes out!
There are little breadcrumbs sprinkled throughout and with our protagonist unable to remember why she has come to this town and for what purpose apart from a longing to return we know that certain things can’t be trusted – is she mad or is there something else afoot – it’s like a western come horror Memento – where at the stories conclusion all roads lead home!
Weird horror westerns have never had it so good – and with Salvation Spring Parker’s visceral writing sets her apart from the growing crowd – a fierce talent that needs to be read, in fact adored!
(Also full disclosure I did design the cover and internal illustration)
Independently Published Available on Amazon
T.C. Parker is also known as Natalie Edwards.
I’m a writer and researcher based in the fox-ravaged wilds of Leicestershire, where I live with my family.
I’ve been a copywriter, a lecturer and, very briefly, an academic; now I run a semiotics and cultural insight agency by day and dream up horror and crime fiction at night, when the kids are asleep.
I write mostly horror and crime, tweet enthusiastically as @writestc, and post the occasional poorly-composed photo on Instagram (also as @writestc).
Reviewed by Ross Jeffery
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