The Staked Plains
Saddle Road Pres
Stefan Kiesbye has done a rare thing with The Staked Plains. Aside from seamlessly weaving together a narrative concerning a foot psychic, dog-boy, vagabond shoot-outs, water witching, and other oblong creatures/happenings in a desolate and devouring South-west setting. He has created a subtly terrifying work, the likes of which Shirley Jackson would be proud. Whereas his previous novels Next Door Lived A Girl and Your House Is on Fire, Your Children All Gone gave us transgressive and startling horror from the first pages forward, The Staked Plains sleeps on it, makes us wish it were there, then springs the trap when we are far too invested to back out—a pleasing move. In this work, I found Kiesbye more decided in his stylistic choices, more mindful in his depictions of violence and sex, and more prepared to give a lingering and staining story. With each chapter prefaced by a religious passage—either from the Bible or the Book of Enoch—and our desert setting Hellish in all respects, one could suggest that The Staked Plains is functioning (successfully) as a modern apocalyptic text, filling in the gaps of Revelations and beyond. A glad addition to my library.