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Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Guest Review: Dead West Omnibus Vol. 1 by Tim Marquitz, Joe Martin, & Kenny Soward (Reviewed by C. T. Phipps)

Official Tim Marquitz website
Official Joe Martin website
Official Kenny Soward website
Order the omnibus HERE

AUTHOR INFORMATION: Tim Marquitz is the author of the Demon Squad series, The Blood War Trilogy, Witch Bane, and the Clandestine Daze series. and . He is also an editor, a heavy metal aficionado, a Mixed Martial Arts fan, and is also a member of the Live Action Role Playing organization. When he’s not busy writing dark stories which catch his imagination he also manages to go about his day job. Tim lives in El Paso, Texas with his wonderful family.

J. M. (Joe) Martin used to load cargo onto aeroplanes, which is where he got his enormous muscles. That was a lot of work so he started writing comic books and role-playing games and short stories for various publishers. Joe is also the owner of Ragnarok Publications, and serves as the company's Creative Director. He lives in Kentucky with his black belt wife and three spirited wee folk. He is not related to George R.R. Martin, however they do share the same fashion sense.

Kenny Soward grew up in Crescent Park, Kentucky, a small suburb just south of Cincinnati, Ohio, listening to hard rock and playing outdoors. In those quiet 1970's streets, he jumped bikes, played Nerf football, and acquired many a childhood scar. He is the author of the GnomeSaga series and Galefire.

OFFICIAL SYNOPSIS: "The writing is very visceral, raw in a style similar to Chuck Wendig. There is action aplenty here—there is furious gunplay and characters knee-deep in the blood and guts of their eviscerated friends. This is a high octane story, but what makes it stand out among the rest is the drama between the human characters..." — Ryan Lawler,

Collecting Those Poor, Poor Bastards and The Ten Thousand Things in a spectacular omnibus edition, this is 420+ pages of Weird Western, Supernatural, Lovecraftian horror, with "strong female characters!"

The DEAD WEST OMNIBUS (vol. 1) takes Nina Weaver, her father Lincoln, and a motley crew of survivors through a gauntlet of magically-animated undead and demonic forces from 'deaduns' to giant, flying creatures, to hellish steam engines, to actual murders of crows. Guns, explosives, bloodletting, expletives, faith-based magic, gore, more expletives, and high emotion! DEAD WEST takes elements of HBO's Deadwood and AMC's The Walking Dead and Hell on Wheels, puts it all in a big cask of TNT, then watches it go BOOM!

FORMAT/INFO: The Dead West Omnibus vol. 1 is a first person omnibus with 434 pages. It collects the first two novels in the Dead West series (Those Poor, Poor Bastards and The Ten Thousand Things) and is a good place to jump on. The book was released on July 6th, 2014.

ANALYSIS: The cover of Dead West Omnibus vol. 1 triumphantly proclaims itself to be a combination of The Walking Dead and Deadwood. I haven't watched Deadwood yet so I can't make any sort of claim to that effect but I am a big fan of The Walking Dead. I'm also a big fan of Weird Westerns in general.

The traditional depiction of the genre is one I can take or leave with Spaghetti Westerns and Red Dead Redemption being my biggest execptions. For me, I prefer Westerns with a decidedly unromantic view of America's expansion into the territory of Native Americans as well as the final triumph of Manifest Destiny.

Thankfully, those looking for a cynical and angry view of the Wild West will find exactly what they're seeking here. Making the protagonist of the two novels into a half-Native American woman and never letting her be "comfortable" around the racist settlers around her is a brilliant writing decision. From the very beginning of the collection until the end, Nina Weaver is well aware her associates could turn upon her at any time. The Dead West Omnibus vol. 1 doesn't try to sanitize the effects of prejudice on her as she has a hostile relationship to Christianity, even when keeping away zombies, and a simmeriing resentment to just about everyone around her. Individuals looking for diversity and representation in their novels may note Nina is bisexual, though she doesn't know the word for that yet.

The premise for the novel is Nina and her father Lincoln are having a fairly typical day when it is interrupted by two distinct batches of trouble. The first is a group of ex-Confederate soldiers who are very much set upon assaulting Nina for no other reason than hatred of Native Americans and the second is the arrival of a stampede of zombie cattle. The latter precedes a complete breakdown of what the locals think of as their reality since it is the beginning of a zombie apocalypse.

Fleeing to a nearby fort, Nina and her father join with the people who'd formerly intended to kill or rape her as well as a band of survivors from the town. This is my favorite part of the two novels as it's a perfect "base under siege" story. There are rich, poor, Yankee, Native, black, and white people all to be found within the fort. The fort is also under the protection of a Jesuit missionary who doesn't share the religion of the majority of the inhabitants but possesses miraculous powers to hold the monsters at bay. The story beyond is the survivors attempting to survive and the slow discovery of what caused the outbreak of the undead.

The best parts of the novel deal with Nina's complicated feelings towards everyone around her. I especially liked Jasmine, the black prostitute who shares a unique relationship with Nina. There's a few holes like the fact everyone remains skeptical of the Jesuit priest despite the fact he, literally, can destroy the undead with a prayer but I felt they were small.

CONCLUSION: I recommend the Dead West Omnibus vol. 1 to fans of both the Weird West as well as zombie apocalypse genres. It very much captures the complicated personal relationships of The Walking Dead as well as successfully transplants them to the Wild West. It isn't a flawless read but is deeper than the vast majority of stories set in its genre.


Official Author Website
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of Esoterrorism
Read Fantasy Book Critic interview with C. T. Phipps

AUTHOR INFORMATION: C.T. Phipps is a lifelong student of horror, science fiction, and fantasy. An avid tabletop gamer, he discovered this passion led him to write and turned him into a lifelong geek. He is a regular blogger, reviewer for The Bookie Monster, and recently signed a deal with Ragnarok Publications to produce the urban fantasy series, The Red Room. C.T. Phipps is also the author of The Supervillainy Saga, the first book of which, The Rules of Supervillainy, was released last year.


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