Posted on October 12, 2011 by Billzilla
Available at Amazon.com
The Grave Doug Freshley
Archaia Entertainment LLC
Written by Josh Hechinger
Illustrated by mp Mann
There aren’t many tales where the undead are the good guys; say what you want about Twilight or True Blood, but those aren’t in the same league as an undead schoolteacher seeking vengeance for the dead family of his pupil.
Thus we have The Grave Doug Freshley, about a tutor – Doug Freshley – in the Wild West who witnesses the death of his friend and his friend’s wife, and manages to save their son – his student – from the family farmhouse as it goes up in flames. The crime has been perpetrated by the Delancey family – a band of thugs, each one worse than the last.
The Delanceys are trying to expand their stake the easy way – by stealing from the locals and killing them so there’s no one to dispute the claim. While holding the dying body of his friend and employer,Shane McNally, Doug swears to protect Shane’s family. Shane’s wife is already dead, and in trying to save their son Bat, Doug is shot to death by one of the Delanceys. Doug swore an oath, and some things are more important than life and death, apparently; he rises up, finds Bat inside the burning farmhouse, and carries him to safety. They then begin to hunt down the Delanceys with vengeance on their minds.
Borrowing heavily from stories like Lone Wolf and Cub, this western-fantasy-horror mash-up follows Doug and Bat as they seek out the Delanceys. On the way, Doug encounters someone he should have expected all along; Death himself, come to claim what’s rightfully his – Doug Freshley.
This is an enjoyable, quick read, and Archaia Entertainment graciously provided me with a free ebook version. The art style is spare and simple, and the tale itself shares those qualities. The dialogue is sufficient for the story though not snappy or clever. There is one small surprise in the main story that I won’t reveal; clever readers will likely pick it out long before I did, but that’s part of the fun. The story emphasizes the cowboy elements while downplaying the undead nature of the protagonist; most people seem a bit surprised that Doug can be riddled with bullets and walk away, but they aren’t freaked out by it, which aids the story but is at times a bit jarring. Fans of the Western genre will likely find much to like about this story; Horror aficionados may find this title leaving a bit to be desired.
Rating: 3 out of five stars
Review by Bill Bodden
Tags | archaia