Riders Where There Are No Roads Audiobook Review

“Riders where there are no roads” is the first book in the “Riders of the Weird West” series.  The new series spawned from a prequel book entitled “The Cowboys of Cthulhu”.  The book is written by David Bain and the audiobook edition is skillfully narrated by Daniel Penz; available on Audible.  Let me say up front that both horror and paranormal genres are not my favorites, but that aside, I can provide some details on what I liked and what I would have suggested changed had I been a lover of Lovecraft.  If you are searching for a western supernatural thriller with some procedural and noir aspects, you may find this audiobook one that fills that niche.

As with many westerns, the story opens with a man who is completely broken and recently hit rock bottom due to his many loses.  He has lost his wife, he has battled alcohol, and he comes from a broken family.   Because that was not enough punishment, he is a broken badge and has lost his compass in life.  A character who simply rides the waves of life, and often does not go against the current.  I liked that there was a fair amount of background details provided early in the audiobook as I had not listened to the prequel prior to this review.  Having this information helped me to not play catch-up with the story.  I enjoyed the subtle blending of fantasy-type creatures within the western theme and the added paranormal portion was a bit of a twist for me.  The author did a decent job of bringing in some more modern technologies not often found in a western tale giving a slight steampunk feeling.

I quite liked many of the scenes and how they were verbally painted by the author as well as enhanced by the narrator.  Overall there were a few memorable characters in the audiobook.  However, I wanted to have more complex characters having both dimension and purpose.  This story seemed to lack some of that for me.  We had the overarching main goal, but I wanted to know more about the characters and why they acted in the way they did; what drove them.  I also found the use of some unique weapons and tools used by the main character in reaching his goal welcomed.  When I was done, I felt there needed to be more.  More action, more purpose, more drive, more pain, etc.  Maybe this will be coming in future books in the series or it is more in the style of Lovecraft style, but I wanted them here in this story as well.    

I can say that the story was a bit slow getting started, but once it was moving, things progressed at a good pace.  In places I found the story to be confusing and it was rather easy to get lost if you were not giving the material your full attention; which can be difficult with Audiobooks at times.  As I had no real background information, apart from what was provided in this audiobook, some of the events felt like I was watching a Hana Barbara dream induced television program which often feel normal in a strange way.  The series title fits it well when it is called “Riders of the weird west”.  The story had plenty of demons, shadow-beasts (horse like creatures) along with some rather odd death events and experiences.  For me, it needed more connection and cohesiveness along with sometimes of intense action and quiet times often found in storytelling.  I like to listen to audiobooks and feel like I’m riding a rollercoaster with my emotions.  Here in this tale it seems lacking. 

The audiobook’s narration was professionally produced and recorded by Daniel Penz who wonderfully narrates the “Easytown Novels” series which I highly recommend.  He has a gritty voice that helps add depth and life to the various characters in the story.  There are some add audio effects in a few places, but I can say that they were not overly used.  The narration was clean of any noticeable audio artifacts (swallows, page turns, etc.) and the voicing was crisp and clear.  Even his ability to properly voice not only characters with accents but female characters as well always surprises me.  Each character’s personality comes forward and feels alive.  Even if you might not be a fan of this audiobook, I recommend you give his other narrations a try. 

Parents and younger listeners, this audiobook contains many mature themes and subject matter that may not be something younger audiences would want to listen too.  It contains vulgar language, drug use, broken families, crude humor and other components which may not be appropriate for less mature audiences. 

In summary, I was hoping the story included more complex and deeper character development.  At times the characters felt flat.  However, I enjoyed many of the scenes and location which were rather descriptive and colorful keeping me interested along the way.  The audiobook’s narration was solid, clear, and contained some grit that gave the main character purpose.  If you are a fan of Lovecraft and like blending this in a western story, this may be an audiobook you would want to give a listen too. 

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