Dust Devils by Jonathan Janz

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Publisher: Flame Tree Press | Release Date: June 27, 2019 | Pages: 304

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Jonathan Janz transports you back to the lawless old west, where the whiskey was sour, fights at the local saloon where the women were loose, and bloodthirsty vampires will put on an entertaining show, for the bargain price of your life. Dust Devils is a whirlwind tour de force of blood and revenge that is not to be missed!

It's 1885, in the wilds of New Mexico, and Cody Wilson and 12 year old Willett Black have no idea the traveling actors that have come to town are about to slaughter everyone and everything that mattered to either of them- especially Cody's wife, who the troupe recruited for that night's performance. Now, the two are out for revenge, tracking down the heinous killers that destroyed their lives. The only catch is, Cody and Willett don't know the actors are vampires in disguise. Their thirst for blood knows no end. Though they've destroyed town after town, it would take a large army to even have a chance at defeating them. Cody and Willett will have to battle the vampires alone, or die trying.

So, Dust Devils is a western, and right away I'm hooked. I love westerns, and there are not many horror stories set in an old west atmosphere. True to the western format, Janz does a great job with characterization and describing locals. The descriptions are what really set the tone for this  novel and he nailed it. The characters are multidimensional, which I love! We have Cody, who is a likable, sympathetic character that is full of vengeance to right the wrongs done to his family. This gives the story a lot of heart and emotion. The same can be said for Willett. Chock full of blood lust — no pun intended — experiencing and dealing with a trauma no one should have to go through, let alone a child. One more “good guy” character I will mention is Marguerite, who is a saloon keeper Cody meets along the way and that relationship creates an interesting dynamic. Janz writes the ultimate baddie in Adam Price- the head of the vampires. He's the king of this undead troupe and was just a fantastic character to read. The vampires were all pretty interesting in the fact that there were no morally gray characters here. The vampires are bad-ass, barely human, blood hungry beasts. They, along with Price, are the ultimate villains. No remorse, they are just plain bad guys. For some reason, not sure why, and please don't take offense to this Mr. Janz, this book, especially the vampires, reminded me of John Carpenter's movie aptly titled Vampires. The vampires here reminded me of the vampires in that movie, although Dust Devils’ vampires are different from what we are used to. They are not calculating or super smart like you might see in some movies. They are more animal than human and only care about their next food source.

The story is told at fairly fast pace, which fits with the story, and the past/backstory comes out in little pieces as the story unfolds.

Dust Devils is a great, original vampire tale, full of blood and gore and non-stop action — just how it should be! Jonathan Janz writes with emotion and depth, breathing life into a monster trope that's been written to death. He masterfully sets the stage for an appealing and unique story to be told, that builds to a climax that is both satisfying and horrific!