Burden Kansasby Alan Ryker
Hungry, bloody and stinking of the grave, they hunt the dry Kansas plains, taking what they want until they cross rancher Keith Harris. Keith is a damaged man who's always made the hard decisions others couldn't. As the two forces battle for survival, the lines between man and monster begin to blur. How much of a
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Vampires are not sexy or sensitive.
Hungry, bloody and stinking of the grave, they hunt the dry Kansas plains, taking what they want until they cross rancher Keith Harris. Keith is a damaged man who's always made the hard decisions others couldn't. As the two forces battle for survival, the lines between man and monster begin to blur. How much of a community's burden of sin can one man take on before becoming a monster himself?
With Burden Kansas, Alan Ryker provides a contemporary novella of vampire horror written in the minimal voice of the western. Burden Kansas is more entertaining, disturbing and thought-provoking than you thought a vampire western could be.
- Sucker Punch Press
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Meet the Author
Alan Ryker is the product of a good, clean country upbringing. Though he now lives with his wife in the suburbs of Kansas City, the sun-bleached prairie still haunts his fiction. To learn more about his work, go to www.alanryker.com.
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"Burden Kansas," a novella by Alan Ryker (Sucker Punch Press, March 2011), is probably the most unsexy vampire story ever written. However, inasmuch as it forgoes any romantic notions of vampirism, I believe its themes hit closer to home for most people. Ryker's vampires are much more like rabid animals than sexy immortal humans. They live in muddy holes under trees, stink of death, and come out to feed primarily on cattle. But things take a turn when two of the main character's trailer-trashy enemies become vampires themselves during a botched fertilizer theft. Did I mention this was an un-sexy story? The main character is Keith Harris, a rough-and-tumble alcoholic farmer who put his wife to sleep like an injured dog while she lay dying of cancer in the ICU. He has a niece, Jessica, who ends up an unlikely surviving hero following a brutal decapitation she does with a hatchet as a form of mercy killing in its own right. But you'll have to read the story to find out whose head rolls in the end. Rather than detail the entire plot of this short novel (140 pages) and inevitably spoil the punch line, I'd like to comment on the main theme "Burden Kansas" illustrates. That is the impossibility of redemption. In this story, the meth-heads (Dennis and Brandon) pay for their sins by the eternal hell of becoming rabid vampires who are hunted by hounds and farmers with shotguns. Keith the farmer meets his own torture at the hands of Dennis whom he bullied and mercilessly injured at some point in the past. Jessica, the conduct-disordered drug-addicted teen, ends up alone and facing the bloody dead bodies of all the people who ever cared about her. Thus we see a moral evolving from this theme of no redemption: you will do the crime (we all do), and you will do the time-we all do. There is no happy ending, only a burden. Except for Keith Harris, the characters are a bit flat and some of the action is cliché if not downright out of character. With descriptions about Jessica such as "She put her hands on her hips and scowled at him." One tends to envision a spunky teen from Leave it to Beaver, not a hatchet-wielding, ex-drug addict, will-be vampire killer. Nevertheless, this novel is dark, fast paced, original in its concept. Anyone interested in Vampire gothic would do well to pick up a copy for themselves. If there's a sequel (and there should be), I'll no doubt be reading it and enjoying it myself, just like I did this one. Personally, I think "Burden Kansas" would make a great mini-series on HBO.
Good stuff from Mr. Ryker. The book was a fast read, kept the pace going, had a nice "whoa, this is messed up" vibe going on, and kept me entertained. The writing is nice and sparse, keeping the focus on the story. These vampires are much closer to the way I imagine vampires. They will eat your face off. And the cover, the cover is breathtaking. I would hang a poster of that cover if I had one. All in all, a very enjoyable book and well worth buying.
This had a little different view on vampires. It made it more oringal. kept me interested to see how it all worked out at the end. Keith is a ranger and somthing been killing his cattle and his nieghbors cattle. The sheriff came out to see what he could see but he hates keith. A scientist from federal goverment has come out and knows a little about the creature but not much. Keith ends up trapping one and learned a little bit more about them and knows how to stop them from killing his cows. Keith wife had cancer and keith drinks a lot but he is close with his niece and brother. Makes some really tough decisions and asks others to make them to. I can see how this could lead to more stories along the way. I liked the story. It given an ebook inexchange for honest review.
ALAN RYKER'S "BURDEN KANSAS" (REVIEW) This book scared the **** out of me! I think it was because I every time Alan Ryker mentioned the vampires shrieking I kept having flashbacks of "30 Days of Night". If you've seen that movie you definitely know what I mean. It's bad enough to imagine vampires of this type attacking animals and eventually people but then you have to put a certain amount of intelligence with them as well and you've got yourself quite the horror story. I enjoyed this book immensely, it was a fast read in pace and length. I hope Alan Ryker writes more I would even love to see what happens to Jessica later in life, this story has the makings of a series! Bring it on Alan, bring it on! -Kitty Bullard / Great Minds Think Aloud Book Club
I absolutely loved this novella. If you're a fan of horror, vampires and/or westerns, you will too. The writing is beautiful and compact. Mr. Ryker knows how to choose just the right words to describe the stark landscape of the plains and the tough people that live there. There are several thrilling action scenes interspersed with quieter scenes that have great emotional impact. For no longer than Burden Kansas is, I still connected with the characters. I'm looking forward to reading more by this author.
When something starts attacking the cattle in a small town in Kansas everyone gets worried. These attacks don't look like anythingn they have seen before. Keith, a loner of a rancher, discovers what has been attacking his cattle and tries to use it to his advantage. It seems that Keith's past will come back to haunt him and even threatens those he loves the most. This book draws you in and keeps you wanting to turn the page.