Audio & Text Book Response of THE MASSACRE AT YELLOW HILL by C. S. Humble
Listen to me read the review or read it for yourself
THE MASSACRE AT YELLOW HILL (Book 1: That Light Sublime Trilogy)
Other books I’ve enjoyed/recommended: The Black Wells Series Books 1 & 2
Affiliate Link: https://bookshop.org/a/7576/978158767...
Release Date: April 17th, 2023
General Genre: BISAC Categories: Horror - General, Westerns - General
Subgenre/Themes: Western, Supernatural/Vampires, Creature-Feature, Occult, Small Town Horror, Coming-of-Age
Writing Style: Multiple POV, short chapters, fast pace, character-driven, lush/accessible prose written with purpose and intention, intricately plotted
What You Need to Know: I am the editor-in-chief of Dark Hart Books, publisher of Humble’s Black Wells Series which means I stand behind C. S. Humble’s work as a publisher, a Bram Stoker Awards nominated editor, and the author of 101 Horror Books to Read Before You’re Murdered. Cemetery Dance stands with me behind That Light Sublime Trilogy and basically, what I’m telling you in my loudest voice possible, is that Humble’s work is not only worth your time, it’s worth prominent retail space on your shelves and worth opening your reader’s heart because that, my friends, are where these characters will live in perpetuity.
My Reading Experience: Goddamn it if this book didn’t catch me hard in the feels, again! I already read this book when it was self-published. I knew what to expect going into this a second time but there was something different about returning to these characters after knowing everything that I know (yes, I’ve read the whole trilogy). I’d like to use this time to remind anyone reading this that it’s not a review, it’s a response. It’s my heart glowing. My brain fired up. It’s me trying to explain the way this book made me feel alive and excited and emotional and this is just me organically trying to put these things into words so that you can decide for yourselves if this is something you want to enjoy for yourself.
I’m not great at explaining why an author’s storytelling works for me or not but what I can share is that this is character-driven work. A lot of intention and purpose went into the craftsmanship of creating characters with authenticity. These characters act independently from one another with their own motivations, their own emotions, reactions, voices, and opinions, all the things that make each person special and uniquely them are accounted for. Nobody is a stand-in. Not one person in this story given a name is wasted.
And the main protagonists are fucking real. They are actively doing things while they’re talking to each other. They’re making coffee, lighting a pipe, brushing their horses…they have tears, they tuck in their shirts, and their eyes are scanning the room or conveying emotions to one another. The author is busy recording everything they’re saying and doing. The barroom is a place. The Miller family lives in a house. The mine shaft has lighting along the walls, am I doing a good job explaining how intricately and carefully this story has been crafted? The chapters serve the purpose of propelling the action forward, they’re succinct, organized, and fluid. The backstories of our favorite characters are exactly where they need to be at the perfect time. I mean, sometimes our participation, as readers, in a very well-written book, is a reminder of what quality feels like while you’re reading it. You can suddenly be struck with the realization that this is how storytelling is supposed to be. An author has the ability, the skills, to lift the reader up and out of themselves and set them down in another world, another time, to live other lives as people in the middle of a supernatural horror Western. We get to wonder what terrible thing has taken up residence inside a mine.
We meet a family crushed by grief and devastating loss. A woman, Tabitha now a widow with a young son, Georgie, and a daughter, Annie.
“Dunes of sand rolled out forever. Hundreds of miles of beach and not a drop of ocean. That is what her life had become. All grit and no salve.
But sadness wouldn’t win today. She told herself. She had to find a way to stop crying in front of the children, even when it was hard. If they were going to work past their father’s death, if they were ever going to find that strength in themselves, they had to see it in her first.”
The Millers. It’s terrifying how much I fell in love with this family the second time around, they’re all treasured-up in my heart.
You will also experience the love between an orphan boy named Carson adopted, loved, and cared for by a man named Gilbert Ptolemy. They are on a journey to save the world. Maybe my most beloved trope of all time, an older, wiser, hardened man looking after a child who is alone in this world (this is where I could list them all but I’m thinking specifically of Roland and Jake, Joel and Ellie, Eleven and Hopper, etc.).
And if all of this isn’t enough (it is) there’s also epic fucking horror. Vampires, some kind of Hell-beasts, a secret society of the occult, an ancient tome that drives people insane, and the most horrific vampire, Sigurd of Antioch. The only people that we know of who can stop all of this madness? The characters we’re in love with. So, hold on to your heart in your chest.
Final Recommendation: Um, buy this fucking book and then the next two.
Comps: Like if King, Lansdale, McMurtry, Tolkien, and Lewis smashed their voices together to write a horror Western.