Title: The Magpie Coffin
Author: Wile E. Young
Page Count: 204 pages
Rating: 5 / 5 ✨✨✨
The year is 1875 and outlaw Salem Covington has spent the last twenty years collecting stories, possessions, and lives. Nicknamed “The Black Magpie” for his exploits during the war, Salem has carved a bloody trail across the western territories. Informed that his mentor, Comanche shaman Dead Bear, has been murdered. Salem vows vengeance on the perpetrators. Enlisting the help of an army scout and preserving the body of his mentor in a specially made coffin, he sets out in pursuit. But the choices of Salem’s past that earned him the moniker “Black Magpie” are riding hard behind him and the only weapon that can kill him might not be as far away as he thinks.
The Magpie Coffin is an unrelenting tale of revenge, with precise brutality and extreme violence.
“They don’t tell you how they scream, how it warms the soul.”
There ain’t no party like a Night Worms (book) party! Thanks to the Night Worms organizers and to the publisher, Death’s Head Press, for providing a free review copy of THE MAGPIE COFFIN to us Worm-y reviewers!
When we were offered to be a part of this one, I jumped at the chance. The cover art is incredible (seriously, where can I buy a poster of this?! Shout out to artist Justin T. Coons for the stellar work!), and I was very intrigued by the “splatter western” branding. In case you’re unfamiliar, the term “splatter” in horror typically means that the story is going to feature and focus heavily on gore & violence. We all know what a western is, and although that isn’t a genre I normally gravitate toward, I had to get my hands on this one and experience THE MAGPIE COFFIN firsthand – and I’m very glad that I did!
I love a good antihero, and Salem Covington is absolutely that. Nicknamed ‘The Black Magpie’, he reminded me of a combination of a few different characters that I love – Deadpool from Marvel Comics, and Roland Deschain – better known as the Gunslinger – from King’s Dark Tower series. While I appreciated the little elements I found of these two established characters in Salem’s personality, he also definitely stood out completely on his own. His singular focus on revenge was such a compelling part of the story, and I found myself turning the pages as quickly as I could to see where that focus would take him next.
Stories about vengeance can be difficult to nail, because you have to make the reader feel like a murderous rampage by the protagonist is justified. Without that, we’re just joyriding with a serial killer, right? When Salem’s teacher and mentor, Comanche tribe shaman Dead Bear, is viciously slain, we’re given all the reason we need to embark on this bloody crusade with our main character, and I honestly couldn’t have asked for more from the author here. Everything from dialogue to pacing was totally on point!
If you’re a fan of westerns and splatter & revenge themed horror, you’ll love this. Even if you wouldn’t normally consider yourself a fan of westerns at all, this one will surprise you! Don’t let the cowboy vibes deter you from what is shaping up to be an amazing new series in the within an exciting little subgenre that I’ll definitely be keeping my eye on moving forward.
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