Book Review: Once Upon a Time in the Swamp by C. S. Boyack #newrelease #postapocalyptic #adventure @Virgilante

Striped kitten lying on open book, eyeglasses resting on pages. Book and kitten on white blanket

Hello everyone! I know I’m hit or miss on blogging these days, but I hope to have some announcements to share in the near future that may change some of that. In the meantime, I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to promote my latest read—which I devoured in a single day.

I’ve read most of Craig Boyack’s books, but—OH MY WORD!!!—he really outdid himself with this. He’s not touring this book, which is a shame, because it deserves plenty of buzz. If you’re a fan of good guys vs. bad guys, imaginative adventure, or old spaghetti westerns, this is pure gold. I could almost hear “wah-wah-wah” in the background. 🙂

I am doing double duty today, covering my own job and a second position, so I don’t know if or when I’ll be available to answer comments, but I’m keeping them open for cheering on Craig! 🎉

Long-horned ox pulling cart, swamp and large satellite dishes in background

Once Upon a Time in the Swamp
By C. S. Boyack

Mari and her husband opted for a simple life as farmers. It’s been decades since the world tore itself apart, pitting neighbor against neighbor and family against each other. They were happy in this re-emerging world, until disaster struck.

Mari sets out on a solo quest to avenge the deaths of her family and loss of everything she holds dear. She’s ill equipped for the task, but seems to have time on her hands. Time alone in the wilderness to deal with her personal demons along the way.

She is helped by a few sympathetic elders and a couple of animal companions with lessons Mari can use if she pays attention. Can Mari find justice for her family?

Set in a post apocalyptic, Gulf Coast world, this is a story for fans of the old Spaghetti Westerns.


Rating: 5 out of 5.

C. S. Boyack is known for creating imaginative worlds populated by colorful characters, and amazing creatures. This time, he transfers his inventive paintbrush to the Golf Coast of the U.S., in a post-apocalyptic world. The area is riddled with fledgling towns and outposts, much like the scattered cow towns of the Old West.

Raiders attack the farm Mari shares with her husband and young son, killing both while she is off hunting turkey. When the local sheriff brushes her off, too busy to help, Mari sets out on her own in a quest for vengeance. Her trek is long and arduous, fraught with danger. Victimized by the raiders, she’s left for dead—until assisted by Miss Kelilah, who offers friendship and wisdom along with her aid.

If you’re squeamish, no worries. Boyack kept the violence against Mari “off screen” and it was only referenced after the fact, something I truly appreciated.

Next, we meet Mr. Vance, my favorite secondary character. Kelilah teaches Mari knife-fighting and throwing, while Vance teaches her the nitty-gritty about handguns. All of this plays wonderfully, as Mari is tough and determined, eager to learn. Though vengeance is her driving goal, there are splashes of humor throughout. I Loved (with a capital “L”!!) Worthless, the dog, and Dirt, the ox. Boyack always delivers amazing animal characters, but he outdid himself this time around.

If you’re looking for a book that delivers adventure, amazing characters, gritty descriptions, and settings that ooze texture, don’t pass this up. I’ve read many works by this author, but consider Once Upon a Time in the Swamp Boyack’s best. He’s created a strong, relatable character in Mari and a good vs. evil tale that delivers frontier justice. The ending couldn’t have been better. I would love to see more stories with Mari’s ongoing adventures. Bravo, Mr. Boyack!!!


55 thoughts on “Book Review: Once Upon a Time in the Swamp by C. S. Boyack #newrelease #postapocalyptic #adventure @Virgilante

  1. Fantastic review for a fantastic read! I agree that Craig outdid himself with this book. It’s my favourite of his so far. Congratulations, Craig.
    Thanks for sharing, Mae, and we understand about time constraints! Hugs 🤗💕🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wonderful review, Mae! I’ve only just started reading Once Upon A Time, and I’m enjoying it immensely. A huge congratulations to Craig. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I plan on starting this this week. (I’d planned on starting it last week, but best laid plans and all that.) I’m sure Craig’s delighted with this review. My best to him.

    Looking forward to your announcement.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Great review! My critique partner gave me pages to look at, so I had to put it down until I get them done, but I’m really looking forward to reading Craig’s book again. He writes great quest type stories.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I totally agree with you, Mae, in that Craig completely outdid himself with this book. It was a story of triumphs and tragedies with tons of colorful characters. I love your review! I also agree this book deserves a lot of buzz. Congratulations to Craig on another fabulous review!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I am so excited to see this review today. I’m so glad the story worked for you, and that you shared it with your rabid fans. I’ll have to share it a few places myself after work.


  7. Reblogged this on Entertaining Stories and commented:
    I discovered this review by Mae Clair. This one means a lot to me. Mae is one of my favorite authors, and I hope everyone will visit her to check it out. Once Upon a Time in the Swamp is getting some great reviews from those who give it a shot.


  8. Thanks for the review, Mae. Congratulations to Craig on what sounds like a great read. I’ll admit I had to Google the term Spaghetti Western—a new one for me.

    Everyone understands that life takes priority, and one of the first things we should push aside when things get busy is our blogging time.

    Liked by 1 person

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