THE DEVIL IN SNAKESKINS: A Surreal Post-Apocalyptic Western
Author: Andy Henion
Type of Book: Softcover
Length: 103 pages
Genre: Post-Apocalyptic Western
Release Date: May 20, 2015
Publisher: Beat to A Pulp Press
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
This book is in a word: UNIQUE.
I won a softcover copy of this book through Goodreads and I am thrilled that I did.
I love the look of the cover of this book. At first glance all you see is the shadow of a man with a cowboy hat and a gun, but once you look again you realize there is much more to it.
“The Devil in Snakeskins” is set in the Western part of what was once California, USA. It is set many, many years into the future. Civilization as we know it has ceased to exist. “The Nuke Era” has passed into memory and a plague has wiped out much of the remaining population. In fact, the plague still seems to show up randomly and often.
People live in a way that is very similar to what we think of as the ‘Wild West.’ The Professor lives surrounded by books on a ranch way out in the middle of nowhere. He is an oddity. Most people of the post-nuke era can’t read, and books are used mostly for target practice. (This is horrifying to someone like me who is an avid reader.)
You would think that someone named “The Professor” would be meek and unassuming, maybe even a bit of a wimp. Not this professor. He is a renowned quick-draw gunslinger who has killed more men than he can remember.
One day while writing in his journals, he sees a man on a horse approaching and this seemingly small event sets off a chain reaction that has far-reaching consequences, not only for The Professor, but for many others as well.
I must warn potential readers that if you are squeamish, this might not be the book for you. The Professor is a curious man and he enjoys autopsying those he kills. He is fascinated by the wonders of the human body and mind, and in particular, he is fascinated by the many ways in which people die. He has many journals full of his observations about death. He is fascinated by the subject and is not just interested in the deaths caused by his gun. Death by poison, death by hanging and more, it all attracts his interest.
This book is not for those who are looking for a sanitized version of what life would be like after the apocalypse. This book is so interesting because it is down-and-dirty. There are sex scenes that can and will offend some people, but I feel that the author did a great job even with those scenes. The Wild West of the past was not a time of women’s rights, or a time known for law and order. Crimes that are wholly unacceptable today were commonplace and justice often did not exist. The guy with the gun had all the power and victims had no way of seeking justice except with a gun of their own.
I think Andy Henion has done a truly phenomenal job of creating his post-apocalyptic world.
In 1924, George Santayana, the author of “The Life of Reason or The Phases of Human Progress: Reason in Common Sense” wrote that “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” The fact that very few people read in Andy Henion’s post-apocalyptic world can be seen as an example of the truth of this statement.
The character building in this book is terrific. Readers start out seeing “The Professor” as nothing more than a cold-blooded killer, but as the story goes on, readers learn more about him and his past.
This could be considered a novella due to it’s length, but the story is so full of detail that it is just as satisfying as a full length novel.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I would love to read more stories set in this world. I am hopeful that the author will be writing more books soon. I can easily see this becoming a series of books and once people start to find out about “The Devil in Snakeskins” I believe that Andy Henion’s fan base will grow exponentially.
I enthusiastically rate this book as 5 out of 5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Andy Henion is a writer of stories. He is a Lover of noir, humor, lyrical gold, literary fiction with punch.
He was raised in northern Michigan and is a former newspaper reporter and editor turned media relations manager. He is both a husband and a father and was born the day before Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon.
His fiction has been shortlisted for Best American Mystery Stories 2014 and the Derringer Award, and nominated for a Pushcart Prize.
Read his Tweets at @Henionwrites
To learn more visit http://andywritesstuff.blogspot.ca