Sometimes she wakes up at night, smelling that gunpowder smell. Ears ringing. A whimpering there in the darkness. Doesn’t always hit her at night, either. Might be in th emiddle of the day. She should be smelling pizza, or garbage, or cat shit wafting from the house next door, but instead what she smells is that acrid tang of gunsmoke. All up in her nose. Clinging there like a tick.

This is how we’re introduced to Atlanta Burns, a teenage girl who’s developed a reputation around her town. When she steps in to stop a bully (using bear mace), she’s pulled into a conflict with a group of bigoted teenagers and has to work out a way to stop them, before things get too rough for even her.

Chuck Wendig‘s amazing, if sometimes filthy, voice comes out full force in Shotgun Gravy, and makes for a dark story with more than a little humor. If you’ve ever read Chuck’s blog, you know exactly what to expect from Atlanta Burns.

From a storytelling standpoint, this book is amazingly structured, with important story beats exactly where I expected them, and their weight wasn’t just assumed, each turning point was more tense than the last.

The ebook offered a preview of the next Atlanta Burns novella, and it demonstrates that Chuck knows how to write a hook.

I was a bullied teen, so I totally get both Shane and Chris, the ‘victims’ of the story. I’ll admit, I enjoyed this a little as a power fantasy, but there’s a lot of deep thinking going on, as well. Between the story itself, and the prologue to Bait Dog, I’m waiting on Atlanta Burns #2.

Shotgun Gravy on Amazon