I had the amazing luck of Alan Ryker contacting me on Twitter. He offered to send me one of his stories and I was thrilled. I love horror and I haven’t read much lately. Mr. Ryker graciously sent me a copy of his novella Burden Kansas. I’m not one for novellas because I like a long and detailed story but this book packs a punch. What Alan Ryker can do in 132 pages puts to shame most of the 400 plus horror books I have read. I am forever a fan.
Here is the book summary: Vampires are not sexy or sensitive.
Hungry, bloody and stinking of the grave, they hunt the dry Kansas plains, taking what they want until they cross rancher Keith Harris. Keith is a damaged man who’s always made the hard decisions others couldn’t. As the two forces battle for survival, the lines between man and monster begin to blur. How much of a community’s burden of sin can one man take on before becoming a monster himself?
With Burden Kansas, Alan Ryker provides a contemporary novella of vampire horror written in the minimal voice of the western. Burden Kansas is more entertaining, disturbing and thought-provoking than you thought a vampire western could be.
The main character, Keith Harris, is complex. An anti-hero you really are not supposed to like. He is not some over-the-top tough guy bent on saving the world. Instead, he drinks to forget his wife, pisses the Sheriff off by being a complete jerk and antagonizes the locals. He bullies his younger brother but loves his niece Jessica. Jessica is the only one left, after his wife, keeping Keith from becoming an all-out sociopath. I still liked him. He was real. I like the characters in my book real. Does Keith redeem himself? Sure, but it ain’t pretty. Shit, I loved this book.
The description of Vampire Western fits and as I read, I felt I was watching a movie. Alan Ryker doesn’t waste a word or a scene. There was a point in the story where I questioned my interpretation of who the guy in the white hat was. There is still some grey area but I will say a definite hero walks into the sunset.
I truly hope Mr. Ryker considers making this into a series.