I loves me some zombies and I loves me some westerns, so I’m always excited to check out zombie westerns like Nine Hours Till Sunrise. Historical mash-ups in general are fun, but there are just certain eras in history that lend themselves well to zombie stories, and I think the 19th century, especially in the American west, is especially well tailors to this.
Unfortunately, there just haven’t been too many zombie western stories done, and most of them have been horrible (like that awful movie with Chris Kattan). Happily, Nine Hours Till Sunrise makes a much better go at mixing up two of my favorite genres. It doesn’t get everything right, but it’s a tight, fun horror adventure story that I really enjoyed reading.
The story focuses on a band of outlaws who manage to strand themselves in an isolated town while pursuing one of their own, who made off with the group’s latest haul: a satchel full of rubies. Unfortunately, their horses panic and run off into the wilderness. And, wouldn’t you know it, but the town is full of ravenous zombies. That’s some bad luck.
After a cursory exploration of the town, they find a woman and young girl tied up. After freeing them, the gang learns about the zombies who come out of the town’s mineshaft at night to hunt. With only minutes to spare as the sun sets, everyone clamors up onto the nearest rooftop.
This is where things get interesting, and it’s all thanks to how well developed every character in the story is. The gang is separated onto two different rooftops, and they immediately start mistrusting one another and conspiring. When they learn that the man they’re pursuing has been turned into one of the zombies, they all start scheming about how they can hunt him down and cut out the rest of the group on the loot.
That makes Nine Hours Till Sunrise not only a fun zombie western, but a classic criminal farce as we see the gang slowly whittled down by their own mistrust and greed.
As the title suggests, the entirety of the novel is told between sunset and sunrise, which helps the story stay compact and on point. The writers also make some clever choices with their zombies by making them attracted to both sound and light, which means the survivors are stuck in the inky blackness of night as they try to explore, find supplies, and track down the double-crossing zombie with the rubies.
While I very much enjoyed Nine Hours Till Sunrise, I did have a few minor issues with it. The biggest one is that the book started pretty slow, and took quite a while to establish its characters and stakes. It took me quite a while before I knew each character, which is a detriment since so much of the story depends on how these people scheme and double-cross each other.
However, once everyone was established and the zombies showed up, Nine Hours Till Sunrise was a quick and fun read.
Omg this sounds awesome!! I thought Red Dead was epic but then they added zombies and it was … *passes out*
Buying like now.
I think you’ll enjoy it, Angie.