>This, the latest novel from Steven L Shrewsbury, continues the excellent run I have had, not only with the books I have read this year, but also with the man himself. This is the fourth novel by Shrews I have read, the other three being Tormentor, Hawg, and Godforsaken and he is fast becoming one of my favourite authors.
Sam Stuart, estranged factory worker is about to find himself thrown into the middle of a battle over a 150 years old. The Souls of 68 Union soldiers, who were imprisoned in the knots of a Confederate relic The Black Ribbon of Josephine are out for revenge, and are about to unleash a terrible evil on the modern World. The only thing standing beside him is the spirit of his ancestor Joel Stuart. A one armed Confederate soldier infamous for his brutal scalping of Union soldiers.
This is a blood soaked and gritty tale of hatred and revenge, and centuries old conflicts. It starts of with a brutal description of a scalping, and tears right through to the end, with barely a pause for breath. Its so fast paced you could get a stitch from reading it.
This is a damn well written novel.. Shrews has a style that is easy to read, that’s not to say the style is simple, far from it. I get the feeling that Shrews is a very honest type of writer, he writes the type of stories he wants to read. There is no sense of pretension here at all. The book is loaded with gore and violence, but it never feels as though it is just being tacked onto the plot for the sake of it. A problem that is rife with many other authors in this genre, who seem to think that loads of passages describing violence and gore are a better than a gripping well written story. Yet somehow he still manages to inject some touching moments.
I love some of the turns of phrase he uses. “Ya better unfuck yourself piss-ant” is one of my favourites along with what Joel says to Sam after one scene, “Bludgeon yer mother in law to death. I told ya I would make your life count for something.” Brilliant.
Shrews, has to created a cast of characters, that are somehow likeable despite being deeply flawed, and in some cases downright nasty . Joel Stuart the one armed one man army is a bastard, yet I couldn’t help but like the guy. Yes Sam is an alcoholic, a cypher that has been used countless times before, but the gritty balls to the wall style of writing manages to keep this away from a cliche. Shrews has a gift in creating down to earth, good old working class heroes.
This is a great novel, by an author who deserves much more exposure in the mainstream.
Five out of Five Stars