Thursday 4 May 2023

THE LONGEST THIRST by Roxie Voorhees


The Quick and the Dead meets Carmilla.

When Lillian killed her father, getting the blood out of her dress was the least of her worries. The Native woman on her left will soon prove to be a blessing, or a curse. Just as hope all but evaporates on the cracked earth of the Mojave, a beacon of light shines in the center of a silver mining town, Calico. 

Born into the rigidity of classism, Lillian struggles with the welcoming hospitality of the town and its inhabitants. Convinced this respite is brief, she prepares to return the woman to her people, and flee her crime. Even so, Calico softens her heart and Lillian soon feels she belongs.

But a stranger gallops into Calico. His presence commands obedience, and soon he finds what he is looking for—Lillian.

And they have unfinished business.

I would like to thank the author for sending me an ARC of this splatterwestern novella.

When Lillian kills her father, she wants to get as far away from him and his men as she can. But with an injured Native woman by her side, surviving the Mojave desert might prove difficult. Until they arrive in the town of Calico, a place where they can both be safe. Unless the past catches up with her... 

The Longest Thirst is like a fever dream under the blistering hot sun, after not having a single sip of water while shambling aimlessly over the sand hoping to find a place that will heal your bleeding heart.

Everything that happens in this story is violent and cuts deep. The circumstances are as cruel as the desolate landscape, and the men are even worse. After all, nature is harsh because that's how the cycle of life turns. But the motivations of men are mostly greed and control, a way to exert pain to keep women in line.

This, unfortunately, is Lillian's life and no matter how far she runs, or how fast she tries to escape, the past always has a way of finding you. And in her case, offering kindness and understanding to someone very different to herself, might not be enough.

Asides from Lillian's peach-coloured dress, there's nothing pretty in this story. The situation is grim and the reality raw enough to make you squirm. Yet, it's hard to turn away from what's going on because I wanted to know where Lillian's story was going to take her.

The memories of her mother are a lovely addition. I loved Obsidian and Rembrandt. And the people who live in The Painted Cat are a refreshing bunch to spend time with.

If you're squeamish, this might be a hard read. There are a lot of triggers in this tale of survival, and the narrative never shies away from the true horror. No matter how crude or bloody. And that final scene was great, it really got me. Yikes!

I really enjoyed this brutal story, and the way it was written really drew me in.

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