Tuesday, September 12, 2023

Review: Red Rabbit by Alex Grecian


Red Rabbit by Alex Grecian
Tor Nightfire
Publication Date: September 19th, 2023
Hardcover. 464 pages.

About Red Rabbit:

"Sadie Grace is wanted for witchcraft, dead (or alive). And every hired gun in Kansas is out to collect the bounty on her head, including bona fide witch hunter Old Tom and his mysterious, mute ward, Rabbit.

On the road to Burden County, they’re joined by two vagabond cowboys with a strong sense of adventure – but no sense of purpose – and a recently widowed school teacher with nothing left to lose. As their posse grows, so too does the danger.

Racing along the drought-stricken plains in a stolen red stagecoach, they encounter monsters more wicked than witches lurking along the dusty trail. But the crew is determined to get that bounty, or die trying.

Written with the devilish cadence of Stephen Graham Jones and the pulse-pounding brutality of Nick Cutter, Red Rabbit is a supernatural adventure of luck and misfortune."

I went into Red Rabbit having no idea what to really expect from this western folk horror, and I ended up having a blast traversing through this truly haunting story. This is not a fast-paced horror that is constantly throwing things at your, but rather one that builds slowly and lingers in all the most effect places. It's very unsettling and there's an uncertainty that I felt as a reader about the world that fit perfectly with the atmosphere. Also, just as a head's up, there are plenty of potentially triggering themes explored in this book and it's quite bloody, so just be aware of that going into it. 

Red Rabbit begins with a bounty for the witch Sadie Grace, and that bounty leads to a number of people on her trail, all with very different journeys to her. Sadie Grace acts as our main catalyst for bringing together just about every other character in this book as they work their way towards her. This doesn't read like a more "traditional" horror movie, but there's still some gore, some spooks, and all sorts of disturbing things within these pages, so be sure you're ready for a bit of a wild ride. 

I had so much fun following all of these characters. There's a pretty large cast of characters, and Alex Grecian crafted them all with obvious care and deftness. Red Rabbit really seems to avoid the trap of two dimensional characters in horror, and I felt like it avoided a lot of character stereotypes, which was refreshing to read. Even characters of lesser importance that we meet only briefly felt at least mildly well-developed to where it didn't feel like these were just cardboard cutouts meant to fill space and roles. There are definitely some 'good' and 'bad' characters, but there are a lot more grey and malleable ones. You learn plenty of details about each character (whether you want to or not) and this actually helped me keep track of them and maintain an interest in each characters perspective and story. That being said, there are still a lot of names and I did stumble over a couple here and there with placing them. Lots of little connections between characters. There were a few very small chapters where we would meet new characters for a brief moment and this felt a little unnecessary for me and slightly like it was too much/etc., so that's one of the main things that I didn't actually care for. 

Red Rabbit is not a short book at nearly 500 pages and there's a lot going on in those pages. Because of how many characters are present, there are a lot of different little storylines and notes to follow, which makes this feel like a bit of a 'horror epic' in the sense that there's not some quick haunts to explore and be done, but rather many different and overarching haunts to follow. Each section and storyline are fully engaging, however, and somehow work really well for the major lack of urgency in the pacing. 

I loved the western setting and style and think Grecian captured it all with ease. The writing is careful, slow, and thoughtful. Nothing is rushed, there's not race to the end, just a steady pace with our western folk as they continue on their occasionally treacherous journey to the witch Sadie Grace. The expansiveness of the writing reminds me a bit of someone like Chuck Wendig who similarly takes the time to build up and tell his story, but with an ability to convey subtle tone and atmosphere more like Stephen Graham Jones (I don't usually do so many comparisons, but they just work this time!). The entire story is told in a very cohesive and detailed manner that meanders through different scenes to really allow readers to immerse themselves in the story. 

I don't think I have too many complaints about this one. The only thing I'd maybe mention is that it sometimes seemed like we touched on so many different elements and beings (witches, spirits, demons, shapeshifters, etc.), that it sometimes felt as though the world-building was a bit surface level. It's hard to describe what I mean by this, because the world-building was also extremely expansive and I had an amazing time exploring it, but that expansive didn't always have as much depth attached. In some ways, this works because not everything needs to be explored to the furthest amount it can be in horror, but I also sort of wished there was just a bit more to explore with some of these elements. 

Overall, I've given Red Rabbit five stars! If you don't mind your horror a bit on the slower paced side and with a fantastic western-style flair, then you should absolutely add this one to your fall TBR. 

*I received a copy of Red Rabbit courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*

Buy the book: Amazon | Bookshop.org

1 comment:

  1. I'm so glad you loved this, I have it on my pile to read this month. Hopefully I can get to it!