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Bounties, Beasts, and Badlands by [D.W. Hitz]

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Bounties, Beasts, and Badlands Kindle Edition

3.5 out of 5 stars 2 ratings

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Editorial Reviews

Review

David Green (via Goodreads) rated it 5 Stars
"The weird west!

A fantastic read, "Bounties, Beasts, and Badlands" is filled with great stories from fantastic authors. Westerns in film and stories are a real pleasure of man, and this anthology twists them like no other. A highly recommended read."

Diana (via Goodreads) rated it 5 Stars
"Sherriff of the Dead, by Jodi Jensen, was a fun and unexpected story of zombies vs the living. Each of these stories were great reads, and kept me turning page by page. Kudos to each author for their hard work. If you like 10/10 reccomend this book."

J.D. Kellner (via Goodreads) rated it 5 Stars
"First, I want to state that I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review. The way I like to review is whether or not I enjoyed what I read. I'm not going to go through the nitty-gritty of grammar or summarize each story. I hate writing synopses for my own stories; why would I do that here?

Now that the formalities are out of the way, let's take a look at the anthology, shall we?

Sheriff of the Dead by Jodi Jensen

Westerns and zombies are rarely a combo-genre tackled by writers, and for the most part, it's understandable. I.T. can be very difficult to make consistently engaging, but Sheriff of the Dead is a great start to Bounties, Beasts, and Badlands. Jodi takes the approach of creating a relatable zombie main character and weaves a fun and insightful western tale filled with zombies, ten-gallon hats, revolvers, and did I mention zombies? Garrett harkens the reader back to the days of spaghetti western stars if they gnawed on raw hog legs and lacked hemoglobin. Garrett's first round with 'food' is memorably portrayed:

Garrett's mouth watered, and a surge of pulsating bloodlust careened through him at the sight and smell of fresh raw meat.
The Marshall, Dixie, Rosie, Clyde, and a variety of other bit players lead a supporting cast that gives Garrett plenty of opportunity to explore the world in the limited scope of a short story. The Marshall is the typically dogged antagonist but more sympathetic in a quasi-Van Helsing sort of way.

It took me a while to gather how people were becoming zombies, but that's not a hindrance to the plot flow.

There's plenty of action and character-building abound in Jodi's tale, and it's a good start to the compendium.

Freedom's Bounty by Crystal Kirkham

Badass female main character - check
Daftly detailed environment - check
Engaging and action-filled plot - check
These are the hallmarks of a Crystal Kirkham story, and Freedom's Bounty continues that tradition. Kirkham's main character, Ella Fitzgerald, is a bounty hunter that is akin to a cross between the Gunslinger from the Dark Tower and Annie Oakley, carrying herself with confidence but remaining unspoken until the time is right. Ella carried a necromancer vibe for me as the reader. Not sure why but I LOVED it.

I mentioned Van Helsing in the first story, and it carries through into Freedom's Bounty, except it's the heroine this time and not the villain, which suits me as I'm a sucker for a protagonist with strong ideals and a jack-of-all-trades bounty hunter that has the right weapon for any occasion. Those types of heroes are my jam. It's more about the preparedness of the character than sliding the plot along on skates, in my opinion.

For me, the big draw for Freedom's Bounty was Ella, her attitude, and preparedness. Think Geralt of Rivia. Quiet and on the loner side. A deviation from my own personality that I appreciate in my literary characters.

Another hit for me in this anthology.

Red by Eric Lahti

I like a good first-person perspective story. There feels as if so few emerge these days, but I was glad to read Red. Red is a more modern take on the bizarre Western. Leaving behind the saloon and wanted signs for garages and bunkers. It's a good change of pace story that keeps the reader emersed in the anthology. It's also a timely affair during the current pandemic. Red Menace sounding acutely worse than COVID but still eerie enough to send the hairs on your neck panicking.
In a lot of ways, Red reminded me of the movie Legion, but Lahti does a better job showing the fallible nature of when angels fall to the Earth. The instinct for humans to flee closer to the medieval notion of hell is not lost on this reader.

It's the shortest of the first three stories, but it packs plenty of punch. The tale felt timely.

The Hattersfield Dilemma by B.K. Bass

The Hattersfield Dilemma gave me a taste of Western Noir (if there is such a thing), and I enjoyed it. All the colorful nicknames and the colorful backstories gave credence to characters often overlooked in short stories. It was akin to a heist story, and it works here as well. Although the difference is people are being swiped rather than banknotes. There is plenty of mystery to build upon as the plot progresses and the characters become more engaged with the job at hand. A big thing I enjoyed was the build-up throughout the story, which continued the trend of avoiding the cliché shootout at the O.K. Corral feel westerns often stir up when I read.

B.K. does a masterful job of describing the environment and bringing the reader closer to the world he's devised. On page 139, B.K. goes into a brief but gut-churning description of sun-dried corpses, and it's not for the squeamish, yet the colorful language placed me directly into the house.
The plot progresses well with the only slowdowns used to build the backstory.

Creeper's Wreath by D. W. Hitz

Creeper's Wreath leverages the outlander trope well, and the main character, Malcolm, is a wizard/sorcerer. The garreters are the green demon followers of Eli and are stuck in the same realm as Malcolm. Think Randall Flagg. There's plenty of Stephen King's influence in the story. Hitz does a marvelous job building upon the current story with appropriately placed dreams memory sequences, much like the Gunslinger in the Dark Tower series.

Eli is the other main draw in the story, and I'll stop short at calling him the villain. Eli is also magic-wielding and the cause for many of the problems within the boundary, but he's deeper than the typical antagonist.

Fans of the occult will enjoy the dance between worlds, and each instance advances the story for the reader in an appropriate way. There are times when the occult is more tertiary to the plot and feels more tacked on that helping to develop the narrative. Creeper's Wreath is not one of those tales.
Creeper's Wreath is a nice mix of magic, monsters, and mystical beings. It's also a fantastic finish to the anthology.

Overall, this anthology is a worthwhile adventure for anyone searching for an eclectic and refreshing look at the wild west. There's something for anyone who likes to spice up their dark fantasy/horror too. As I said at the beginning of the review, I base my review on whether or not I enjoyed what I read, and I can definitively say I enjoyed every story in this anthology.

I had a good time reading and want to thank Fedowar Press for the ARC."

Product details

  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B09B9GS43Q
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Fedowar Press, LLC (August 24, 2021)
  • Publication date ‏ : ‎ August 24, 2021
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • File size ‏ : ‎ 1563 KB
  • Text-to-Speech ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Screen Reader ‏ : ‎ Supported
  • Enhanced typesetting ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • X-Ray ‏ : ‎ Not Enabled
  • Word Wise ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Sticky notes ‏ : ‎ On Kindle Scribe
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 216 pages
  • Customer Reviews:
    3.5 out of 5 stars 2 ratings

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Top review from the United States

Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on February 19, 2022
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