Pros: Long and worth every moment!
Cons: Don’t bother if you can’t handle lots and lots of blood
Rating: 5 out of 5
Sam Witt’s Half-Made Girls is a Pitchfork County novel. In Pitchfork County, the Long Man has imbued Joe, the Night Marshal, with some of his powers so that Joe can fight off the monsters that plague the rural, poor county. Lately the meth trade has gone through the roof, and Joe finds out it’s intertwined with the evil that saturates Pitchfork. Eventually he realizes that maybe his usual tactic–kill ’em all–might not be the best one. By then he and his family are deeply in danger from bats that eat their way into your body, demons, and some very angry meth-heads. And no one trusts a Marshal who’s so quick to use his gun.
I was in the mood for a good ol’ dark, bloody horror read, and this one completely hit the spot. Joe’s whole family is wrapped up in the horrors of Pitchfork County–unfortunate, because Joe views his job as requiring him to kill anyone who uses their powers in a manner that is evil, that walks the Left-Hand Path. His wife, Stevie, is the daughter of the powerful Bog Witch, and she would be the next Bog Witch if she allowed it to happen. Their son Al (Alasdair) can turn into a demon. And their little daughter Elsa channels spirits–sometimes she even helps her daddy do his work. Which this week happens to be part of a corpse attached to a cross in the church. Whoops, Sheriff Dan was wrong–the girl on the cross isn’t dead yet. She’s still alive and quite lively despite all the parts she’s missing, and when the Marshal tells the Sheriff to take her back to the jail for the moment, Dan goes along with it, not sure why. I like the back-and-forth between Dan and Joe as the book goes on. They’re fighting different kinds of demons, and their jobs are entirely different. There is a portion of the book that gets a bit repetitive in addressing Joe’s abilities, but it picks up and moves on before too long. It’s also believable, watching Dan struggle over which road he’s going to take, that he has that struggle going on. Each man’s struggle makes sense to him.
The violence and blood are definitely over-the-top, but as long as you’re in the mood for it, it’s a good over-the-top. By the end I just kind of assumed that everything was drenched in blood. Even fist-fights go on for a while, and I was totally engrossed. I’ve also regained some of my fear of bats, so, thanks, Witt, for that.
Because Joe would have to view Stevie’s powers as evil, he refuses her help for most of the book. He’s convinced he’d then have to kill her. He’s sort of a believable idiot in trying to keep Stevie and Al out of the game. I do feel like lately every strong male figure in genre fiction has the flaw: alcoholic, subset: whiskey, but to be fair this book was put out two years ago.
The meth plot is interesting, but it does feel heavily moralistic at times (the message of helping these people rather than crushing them). Thankfully that tied into his work as the Marshal; otherwise it really would have felt like a soapbox.
I absolutely loved Half-Made Girls, and have already picked up copies of the rest in the series!