…Not being a big fan of the western genre, I was unsure about Scalp Mountain. Once into it I found myself reading later than usual, even picking it up during the day, which I very seldom do. The story kept drawing me back in, engaging me in the lives of the characters, forming a picture that left me little doubt as to its realism. Many of the descriptions where so picturesque that I could almost smell and taste the air, feel the dirt, dust, wind and cactus spines.
Although I understood the motives of the characters, there were times when I wanted to take them aside and say, “Damn it! Do the right thing here.” There was no one character for whom I could say I took a strong liking. They all had their faults and strengths, even Ortega, the Apache dedicated to making Colum’s life a living hell. There were issues that Robb raised that, frankly, made me uncomfortable, that I wished she hadn’t included. I noted that one reviewer said that the title was misleading. I just didn’t get that with scalping seeming to be the norm for both indian and white man, and many of the scenes taking place in mountainous regions of Texas. The title is spot on.
Although the story certainly warrants a 5 star rating, I felt the scene transitions could have been smoother as well as her handling of internal dialogue. Robb certainly made up for it, though, with vivid descriptions, like… “Another gust of wind tugged on his hat and pushed the tops of the tamarisk trees, lifted the singing sparrows, swept past the bleating goats.” When I read this I could hear the beating of the sparrows’ wings, smell the goats, feel the wind whip my hair? Scalp Mountain was a job well done for Julia Robb. I expect she is going to be a powerhouse for descriptive, hard-hitting western stories.