A Congregation of Jackals by S. Craig Zahler Book Review

This is a book that’s been sitting on my shelf for almost two years now. I bought it after seeing a review on Slowly Red’s YouTube channel. I wanted something short and picked it off of the shelf.

What I liked:

It was a short read, but I felt like I took a long journey with these characters. It’s a story about a gang who had committed some horrible crimes and actions that tried to move on with their lives. I won’t get into what happened, but let me tell you that it’s not for the squeamish. It doesn’t pull any punches and is absolutely unforgiving.

Can we move on from our past or will it always cast a shadow on us that will eventually come knocking on our door one day and we’ll be forced to pay the price for our wrong doings? Is redemption possible for any of us?

The pacing is perfect, there is no wasted space. Don’t get me wrong, there are some quick and quiet character moments that build the world and flesh out the characters but they all have value and add to the story. I’m sure you’d guess that because S. Craig Zahler has written and directed movies (Bone Tomohawk) this read can feel very cinematic.

I adore the cover.

What I didn’t like:

I love the dark and depressing stuff more than most, but there were some scenes that I wondered if they went a little too far. While I didn’t feel like it was just for shock value, some of the violence felt a little over the top. Maybe that’s because it felt like real people in history and not a paranormal or fantasy, but even I had to gasp a couple of times.

Overall thoughts:

This book seriously scratched that Second Apocalypse itch I’ve had since finishing that series. It’s dark, brutal and even touching at times. It’s classified as a western horror but it’s not the horror you’d probably expect. It’s very grounded and real, making the violence feel very visceral and effective. I became to sympathize with characters I knew I should hate, hoping they would find redemption or some kind of forgiveness even if they were terrible people. I couldn’t put this book down and the pages flew by, I finished it in two sittings.

This book is definitely not for everyone, but if you’re like me and enjoy dark, (dare I say, grimdark?) violent, unforgiving and no holds barred stories it’s one I would highly recommend.

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Author: Steve

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