We arrive at the end at last. In case you haven’t been following, Your Resting Place is the third and final instalment of the Walkin’ Trilogy by David Towsey. Your Brother’s Blood and Your Servants and Your People have been solid novels full of stoic characters, easy to read and enigmatically interesting. I was honestly a little sad to jump back into the plights of my favourite family struggling around this zombie-western, but only because that would mean that soon it would end. But my curiosity has been eating at me, so I devoured this novel in a day while listening to my Led Zeppelin records.
This novel has a very different feel to the previous two. Your Resting Place seems to grab you by the throat from the onset, the world seems harsher but with a faster pace. We do not spend a long time running away or dreading the horrible things in this novel, they happen abruptly, they find us because we are helpless to stop them finding us. After the ending of Your Servants and Your People this is not surprising. Towsey seems to have taken away the airbags and is ready to throw you into head on collisions and show you what his characters are made of and he does it so well.
Again some time has passed since the previous novel and we follow a new generation in the McDermott family. Ryan is a young adolescent who is trying very hard to survive on the farm with his alcoholic mother. Ryan is a little naive and innocent because of his relative isolation, but his home is far from a safe and cosy beginning and because of that he is a little bit of an old soul – I really liked him from the onset.
We come into his life at a point where things are as they are and have been that way for a very long time. He knows when to duck, he knows the sound of a bad mood through the walls of the house, he knows when to make himself scarce and how long to wait before waking his mother for breakfast. Ryan begins the novel already in the fire and Towsey simply offers the frying pan for him to jump into.
After his mother has a run in with a man and sinks into the very bottom of her despair Ryan finds himself with one difficult choice after another and ends up on the road heading who knows where.
Out of the three I think this novel really highlights the violence and brutality of life on the frontier. A difficult life was to be expected and many – if not all – of the characters have a cloud of sadness over them. However very few of Towsey’s characters ever give up, the courage they have to persevere and survive is almost tattooed onto their bones. Ceaselessly, they go on until they meet an unstoppable force and they must move.
Speaking of unstoppable forces, the Drowned Woman is hunting Ryan’s father. She is sort of absent from most of the novel bar the prologue and the end and is one of the novels most mysterious points. However she does introduce herself to Ryan in a very gentle way which conflicts with the talked about in hushed voices mythology she has with the other characters who know of her. If you’ve read the other books your little heart is fluttering away going and you’re experiencing the ‘AWWWWWWWWW! LOOK! Happiness might happen here… please let it happen here…’
Something that I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned about this series is that throughout there are strong and relatable female characters. The Drowned Woman isn’t the only badass woman in this series, but just like the men of these books not every one of them is a perfect shot and not every one of them has been entirely good their entire lives. People are stupid, but some of them make better choices as they get older and wiser.
When Ryan finally meets his Pa, the guy is this enigmatically stoic cube of a man practically carved out of the landscape itself. There is a sense that Pa has emotions that he wants to share and incorporate Ryan into, but also a detachment and distance. Having a relationship with the other books at this point also gives a you a little more to run with. There are reasons this man that makes me squeamish and want to yell ‘RUN HE IS A BAD MAN!’ but to avoid any spoilers I’m not going to go into why.
This is the only novel out of the trilogy that I felt could stand up alone without the support of the others – which I feel is a remarkable strength. Sure you will miss the great history of the McDermott family, you will miss some hint of what has come before and where this world is but narratively Your Resting Place is quite self contained. Towsey assumes you have read these novels, but he does not spoon feed you and back peddle through tens of pages to ‘recap’ what has happened before.
The richness of Your Resting Place comes a little from knowing a little more about Ryan’s history than perhaps Ryan does. It leads to conflicted feelings as a reader and something that all brilliant novels should reflect on and that is: life is messy and certainly not straightforward.
I am very sad to be finally round this trilogy up, this has been a wonderful ride! These are wonderfully enigmatic books, they are well written, intelligent, they reinvigorate a genre with empathy, and I cannot praise them enough. I am very much looking forward to rereading them.
Thank you for writing them Dave and also for working so hard to make them happen.