|(this cover is lovely but slightly misleading, as the story takes place in the near future)|
Title: Southern Dust
Author: Caspar Vega
Number of Pages: 228
Genre: Pulp / Thriller (I guess...)
Favorite line from the book: "You need light to fight the dark. It's the oldest story in the book."
What Goodreads has to say (with my interspersed comments):
The Governor: The enigmatic leader responsible for achieving the aforementioned independence. [did I mention he's slightly crazy?]
Roger Conaway: An enforcer trying to make a clean break. When his boss tells him a friend's daughter has gone missing, can Roger find the girl and get out of the game while he still has a shard of innocence left? [sadly, no]
Dominic White: An obsessive Hornbuster overcome with grief; recovering from a nervous breakdown, and actively seeking revenge for his murdered sister. [when he's not chilling on the couch for days at a time]
Discover their interconnected stories in this diesel-fueled, black magic powered, vampire-creating extravaganza! [extravaganza is a good word for it]
What I have to say:OK, wow, where to start? This is a weird story. And I don't mean that in a bad way, because I generally think weird is awesome. There's just no denying this story is definitely weird.
We've got a Southern belle getting tangled up with the young, attractive governor of Alabama, who may be crazy? (I thought he was crazy, but the aforementioned Southern belle was apparently crazy about him, so go figure). We've also got a Captain America type of experiment gone wrong (as in hairy vampire wrong), and a freelance law enforcer/assassin with serious mental health problems. Oh yeah, and black magic - don't forget that one.
All taking place in a post-Trump America in which Alabama has declared independence (go them). And bloodshed abounds. Also some characters with seriously psycho relationship issues.
The narrative structure of Southern Dust is very well done (with one exception which I'll get to later). The story is told through the eyes of four characters, each getting their own vignette. So in essence it's more like four interconnected short stories, each with its own protagonist and plot arc. Vega does a great job getting inside the characters' heads and presenting vastly different personalities.
My favorite narrative voice was the last one (Dominic White), whose life philosophy cracked me up and reminded me - on a much less drastic scale - of myself. My favorite quote is this one:
"I'm a procrastinator and a lazy person by nature. However, I require the laziness for greatness."