Book Review: Massacre at Lonesome Ridge, by Samantha Warren

Massacre at Lonesome Ridge (Lonesome Ridge, #1)

A massacre at a small native american village leads to the survivors invoking a dark spirit, who turns them into zombies so that they may seek vengeance against the white men that slaughtered their families.
The story opens with Little Bear, the village shaman’s grandson and heir, out on a romantic walk with his fiancee, Summer Rain. But when they return, they find their village under attack by white men. Little Bear and Summer Rain barely escape with their lives. Little Bear is then called on to summon the spirits to aid them. A capricious spirit responds to his cry for help by turning him into a flesh-eating zombie. Things quickly get out of hand as the curse spreads beyond Little Bear’s control with the introduction of a new member to their group, Charity Banks, a power-hungry socialite with designs on becoming the queen of a land of the dead.
The story is told from various perspectives, with Sheriff Connor Maclane as the main protagonist, supported by a number of other characters, including Charity Banks herself, Summer Rain, Jeremiah (an outlaw) and his brothers, and a number of other soon to be victims, that give the book a kind of Walking Dead vibe.
The story is set in the railroad days of the wild west, mostly in and around the town of Lonesome Ridge. The setting provides a welcome relief from the now standard zombie apocalypse. Warren also introduces a number of intelligent zombies, such as Little Bear, Summer Rain and Charity Banks, creating the opening for a power struggle for control of the shuffling horde.
Warren doesn’t shy away from the gruesome, and handles dialogue and characterisation well, even if the characters are a little two-dimensional, but sets a decent pace for the action and story-telling. This could have been a very different book if Little Bear and Summer Rain had been the central protagonists, but Warren chooses a more well-worn approach by casting Sheriff Maclane as the leading man. A little more character depth would have gone a long way to making the Sheriff more likable, perhaps some back-story for him, with vignettes about his early years growing up with his sister Cora, and details of how his wife died, would have fleshed this out. Instead, Warren chose to focus on the back story of Charity Banks, which is understandable as she is a far more interesting prospect than the Sheriff.
Overall, this is an interesting entry to the zombie horror sub-genre, and will hold your interest for its length, with the inevitable loose-ends that suggest a sequel is in development.

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