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How The Skin Sheds Chad Lutzke Main

"How the Skin Sheds" Book Review

Written by Shane D. Keene

Published by Dead Sky Publishing

how the skin sheds chad lutzke poster large

Written by Chad Lutzke
2023, 115 pages, Fiction
Released on May 30th, 2023


This newest outing in the western splatterverse opens with concussive force, diving headlong into a scene of carnage and atrocity that says, “Content Warning: this book will fuck you up.”

Then it proceeds to deliver on its promise.

In the first few paragraphs, How the Skin Sheds lulls you into a sense of familiarity. A lone rider approaches a solitary farmhouse, dusty from the trail. A bounty hunter, no less. The house belongs to a single woman and her child. Ah, we’ve seen this movie before.

But have we? Really? Well, the author is Chad Lutzke.

So, NO. We haven’t seen this one before, and nobody else has, either.

The story immediately shatters the illusion of purple sage intentions upon casting it, like thrusting you into ice water on a 100-degree day. The shock of the scene, the hook Lutzke sets to get you invested is a setup to a manhunt like you’ve never read before. It’s also a systematic process of making you fall utterly in love with the unlikely trio of Nadine, Franklin, and Garrett, one an eleven-year-old girl, one a recently freed slave, and the other our intrepid, vengeance-hungry bounty hunter.

How the Skin Sheds is an example of an author at the height of his descriptive ability. When blood splatters, you feel it hot on your skin; when flesh parts, your guts clench up, expecting to feel it. And when it’s time to turn on the heartbreak—Lutzke Time—well, you feel that too. With every fiber of your being. Because in the end, every Chad Lutzke story is a human one, and this one is mostly about a young human named Nadine. Eleven years old, spare and scrawny in a dirty white dress, she’s as angry and mean as the Old West and she serves up her coming of age with a hefty side of hot lead and a bottomless bucket of blood. Alongside Franklin and Garrett, she races in pursuit of a vicious killer, following a path of carnage and heartbreak that could only flow from the pen of this writer.

When it comes to combining raw emotion with in-your-face brutality, Lutzke is a master alchemist, whipping up heady concoctions that would explode in the hands of lesser authors. Reminiscent of the grace and skill the great Jack Ketchum was able to bring to the genre, he stuns you with outbursts of extreme violence and relentless barrages of heartache. How the Skin Sheds sits on a high shelf with S. Craig Zahler’s A Congregation of Jackals in the realm of splatter westerns and I can’t recommend it highly enough. Get this book in your head, the characters will do the work of getting into your heart.

Trust me.


Overall: Cover
Buy from Amazon US.
Buy from Amazon UK.
Buy from BAM.

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About The Author
Shane D. Keene
Staff Reviewer - USA
Shane Douglas Keene is a reviewer, columnist, and poet living in Portland, Oregon. He spends his spare time drinking scotch and/or beer, playing guitar, and thinking of ways to scare small children and puppies. He pays meticulous attention to beard maintenance, mostly because it freaks people out, and he writes about dark fiction and poetry in various places, including his blog at Shotgun Logic.
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