In the 1800s, it’s easier to kill and get away with it—if that’s your thing. Walking into a saloon, collecting body parts, and leaving out the front door doesn’t exactly trigger sirens and a team of forensic scientists, but there’s always someone you’re likely to run into that’ll try and put a stop to your slaughtering ways.
Enter our unlikely group of protagonists, comprised of a man on the run and a young boy and his mutant sisters he keeps in a sling around his neck like two hairy apples. They all end up on a quest of sorts to put a stop to Levi—one of the most repulsive man-things you’re likely to read about this year, or the next. Two words: Fingernail armor. Levi is one of the most brutal antagonists I’ve seen in quite some time, yet Boden manages to force a tear out of us that’s shed just for poor Levi as the evil within him forces a slow transformation that easily rivals Brundle-Fly.
On top of the aforementioned group, there’s a few more very likable characters, including Jones, a man after the guy he thinks may have killed his Ma. That guy being our man on the run. This provides more tension in the story and a meet-up that is inevitable.
Boden presents unique, otherworldly visuals and characters in this Wizard of Oz-esque, Tolkienish adventure that feels more like Joe Lansdale-meets-80s-body-horror-meets-Gunsmoke. The pages turn easily and quickly as we wait to see what other oddball characters or events he presents. And of course, there’s justice that needs bringin’, and any reader who’s started the read will be anxiously awaiting that outcome.
The weirdness, the creepiness within Walk the Darkness Down comes from Boden’s own mind. There are no copycats here. You haven’t been here before. This feels new, unpredictable, and fresh. This weird western is easily in my top favorite books of the year and secures my love for Boden’s work now more than ever.