Thursday, March 17, 2016

Throwback Thursday Review: The Shotgun Arcana by R.S. Belcher


This week's throwback review is of The Shotgun Arcana by R.S. Belcher. It was published October 2014 by Tor Books. This is the second book in the Golgotha series.

Golgotha, Nevada, deep in the desert, is from outward appearances a busy frontier town bolstered by the recent influx of miners. If one looks closely beneath its veneer, one can see that not everything is necessarily what it appears to be. Nor is everyone who they appear to be. After all, one can remake themselves in Golgotha: "You could be a hero, a villain, a self-made man, or you could vanish without a trace, erasing the person you once were." (p.23)

Sheriff John Highfather and his deputies, Mutt and Jim, have been having their hands full with ordinary crimes. Something supernatural is on the horizon, though. There is an evil skull that Biqa, aka Malachi Bick, was tasked with hiding and protecting and now Ray Zeal is after it along with those that possess any of the teeth  that were scattered back in the day. Those that have the teeth have been pursuing lives of crime, to put it mildly. Ray Zeal wants them to help him recover the skull and take over Golgotha.

Also back in this novel are Maude, her daughter Constance, Malachi Bick, Mayor Pratt, Auggie, Clay, Gerta, and Gillian. Each has a special role to play in what's coming to Golgotha. Kate, a Pinkerton detective, is introduced as well as a pirate queen, and the bouncer for the Dove's Nest.

The book can be read as a stand-alone, but is a better read if you've read book one. It's fast-paced and full of action that only increases in momentum as the book goes on.

This book is definitely a weird western. It's a bit of horror/dark fantasy. I like all of the good guys, but Maude, Kate, Jim, Mutt, and the sheriff are my favorites. The bad guys are pretty much majorly unlikeable which is a good thing. The main characters are multi-dimensional.

Overall the book is well written. If you like weird westerns, or your horror or dark fantasy with a taste of old-time west, then this book is for you. I enjoyed reading it and look forward to the next in the series. I give it 4 out of 5 stars.

You can read an excerpt from the book on Tor.com