Your Resting Place by David Towsey
Rumours of the Drowned Woman are rife. She hunts down wanted men but never collects on the bounty. Some say she can’t be killed, not in the usual ways. The Drowned Woman is looking for one man in particular: he killed her husband and stole her daughter.
Her family has been wronged.
There will be a reckoning.
I’ve made no secret about the fact that I’ve really enjoyed this series. I’ve been suffering from the terrible/wonderful situation where I long to read the last book, but know I’m going to be disappointed that this has to end. Everything does, however, have to come to an end, and so with a heavy heart it’s onwards to the final part in The Walkin’ trilogy.
The story picks up some time after the conclusion of book two, Your Servants and Your People. It follows another member of the McDermott family, Ryan. He has grown up in relative isolation with his mother. After years living on their small farm, events force Ryan out into the wild world where he has to confront the legacy of his family’s past. I liked Ryan immediately. Existing in that turbulent time of his teenage years, he is hopelessly innocent in some respects and old beyond his years in others. Watching him come to terms with his lot in life is emotive stuff. His frustrations and anger are deftly played out as he travels the country trying to understand why he has been left alone for so long.
With the exception of a short appearance in the prologue, the Drowned Woman doesn’t actually appear until later on in the novel. That said, her presence is felt throughout. Like a spirit of vengeance she stalks the land, grimly determined to enact her revenge against those who have done her wrong. If you have read the previous books in the trilogy, then the motives of the Drowned Woman are pretty clear from the get go. If not, her character still works but has a far more mysterious air.
Initially, Ryan and the Drowned Woman appear like two opposing forces, diametrically different from one another, but the further you read the more you realise that they are searching for the same things.
There are many other characters also worthy of note. The most important being Ryan’s errant father. Eventually, Ryan gets the opportunity to meet his Pa, and the reader gets some idea of just how dysfunctional the McDermott family has become. Like all the best Westerns, many of the characters remain enigmatically stoic. Ryan’s Pa is a perfect example of this. You get the distinct impression he wants to open up to his son more but just doesn’t have the tools that will allow him to do that. Remember, this novel is set in an era where the strong silent type was the norm. Watching the relationship between Ryan and his Pa with modern eyes highlights just how many of their interactions come across as blisteringly sad. It felt like if they could only open up to one another everything would be alright.
Thinking about it, all of the characters seem imbued with that same innate sadness. Their lives, and in some cases afterlives, are so tragic. I’ll be honest, I don’t think I was expecting such insight, but it is entirely welcome nonetheless. Life, and by extension death, in the frontier was often a brutal violent business. Towsey’s writing does a grand job of highlighting this. No one is exempt from suffering. Ultimately, I suppose that is the point of the story. In keeping with other zombie novels, this isn’t necessarily an upbeat experience but it is a completely engrossing one.
One thing did strike me that I find impressive. I’ve been thinking about this book since I finished it, and I reckon you could read this novel irrespective if you have read its two predecessors. Not a suggestion I would normally make, I’m usually loath to start any series on a book other than the first one, but I think this may be the exception. The experience would be wildly different in each instance but I think that both would be equally valid. The author does a remarkable job of subtly referencing books one and two, but never labouring their content.
Another quick aside, if you enjoy listening to music while reading, I heartily recommend The Last of Us soundtrack by Gustavo Santaolalla as the perfect accompaniment to this novel. They complement one another rather marvellously.
The Walkin’ trilogy has been a genuinely fascinating experience following multiple generations of the McDermott clan as they attempt to exist in a brutal alternate version of the American frontier. No spoilers, but all I’ll say is that this final book ends on a pitch perfect, bittersweet note. Towsey’s writing explores what it means to be human as well as picking apart what happens when your humanity is no longer relevant. Turns out that these polar opposites are the flip sides of the same coin. If you are looking for a slightly different take on your standard zombie mythology, then give this series a try. This isn’t overt, blood curdling horror; this is an entirely different more introspective and thoughtful beast.
Your Resting Place is published by Jo Fletcher Books and is available now. I can highly recommend this book and the trilogy as a whole.