Trail Markers by Cym Aros
He would lay down his life, though, before he would let Hell have his brother.
I really should read Westerns more than I do. I love Western films and shows, especially space Westerns i.e. Firefly, but for some reason I just haven’t read many. The first thing I’ll say is that I should have bought the paperback because this is a large tome and for larger books, I tend to sink into them faster in paperback. So, I will definitely be rereading this one once I get my hands on the paperback! And as this is a whole trilogy, I’ll for sure be picking up book two in paperback as well, haha 😉
Now, despite the lack of Westerns in my repertoire, what I do adore more than anything is a story about close siblings. And boy oh boy, was this a story about brotherhood. One of the things I loved from minute one is the relationship Aros develops between the siblings.
He was avoiding their eyes. He did not want to see their worry, did not want to see his battered, messed-up self reflected in their eyes. He could feel their gaze like an unwelcome hand moving over his skin.
The detail and focus on the characters is excellent, visceral and most assuredly intense. Certainly not a tale for the faint of heart, with Aros putting her characters through it all, bless their hearts. Aros really spends a lot of time developing the characters, their relationships, their predicaments and conflicting emotions, building the story towards an exciting finish. And, as a reader, it’s impossible not to care about Cole, Jesse and Jacob.
“You can’t outlast me, boy. I will keep on, and keep on, until I crush you. I will make your brother watch. And then I will crush him.”
Rather than being a typical Western with characters as bank robbers and bandits, this book is more a long form character study, with lots of conversations and musings from different points of view. Salinger-esque, if you get me. The time switches back over about a decade or so, flashing from the 1860s to the 1870s. This story really reminded me of Days Without End by Sebastian Barry, actually, which I absolutely adored and is probably the only other Western I have read (surely I’ve read more?? Goodness, must rectify soon).
Overall, Trail Markers is character and dialogue driven, and moves along at a brisk pace, flashing forwards and back in time to detail how the brothers ended up as they are and taking the reader on a journey alongside them. This book definitely gets dark and twisty, fitting right in with the genre!
If you like Westerns, or stories about brothers who would do anything for each other, then be sure to check this one out! Series: Trail Markers // Thanksgiving // Nox.
On to book 2!