The Wild West. Its plains and deserts spanning endlessly, bleak and desolate with the occasional oases and patches of green dotting that harsh expanse, a canvas for portraits all too often painted in the red of bloodshed and violence, where few can hope to find redemption. There unfolds Colin Martin's "Rain Maker," a novel that deftly blends the western and horror genres to show the frontier in its starkness, in all its magic and terror, and amidst all that the preciousness of what tender moments can be found as one drift across those high plains.
"Rain Maker" is a tale of love, revenge, and frontier justice following Ethan Brooks, a man who has done what it takes to survive in an unforgiving world. Yet, there is respite; as he searches for water to save a dying stranger, he stumbles across a modest farm owned by an aging farmer. There he finds a chance for a new life, falling for the farmer's beautiful and willful daughter even as Kansas is gripped by drought.
Amidst the heat and the barrenness, there is another threat. Their village is run by a controlling clergyman called the Preacher, who loathes and fears the newcomer. There are also dark forces at play just beyond the edge of human comprehension. Ethan must once again tap into old instincts and ways that served him so well in his past life to stand against the Preacher. Can he save the town and those he holds dear from the Preacher's domination? Or will he have to make a pact with eldritch powers to set things right in their community?
"Rain Maker" also taps into the Weird West sub-genre. This excerpt shows Martin's masterful blend of gunslinger action and supernatural horror:
"The two men stood perplexed, frozen by cold and terror as water rose in circular motion, lengths separating to form long, serpent looking shapes that glimmered in the flicker of candlelight. And then, as their watery bodies thickened, the snakelike heads formed to spit at them before shooting for their open mouths. Both men's throats were simultaneously obstructed by these malicious, watery demons and they clogged the men's throats, starving their lungs of air."
All in all, Martin's tale is action-packed and masterfully written, ideal for aficionados of the western genre. He makes deft use of contrasts: amidst the harsh climes and the arid landscape, the romance between Ethan and Sam, the farmer's daughter, blooms like a desert flower. The natural adversities faced by frontier folk and the vicissitudes of the unscrupulous are also juxtaposed with the more sinister and unnatural forces at play. Through this, he examines the human condition, the fragility of those braving the frontier in all its vastness and harshness, and the inner struggles of those desperately seeking redemption.
Colin Martin comes from a small town in the heart of England and, since his youth, has had a fascination with the supernatural. He draws inspiration from Stephen King, James Herbert, Shaun Hudson, Clive Barker, and other horror fiction authors.