Published by Tor Books on January 22, 2013
Genres: Fantasy, Steampunk, Western
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Buffy meets Deadwood in a dark, wildly imaginative historical fantasy
Nevada, 1869: Beyond the pitiless 40-Mile Desert lies Golgotha, a cattle town that hides more than its share of unnatural secrets. The sheriff bears the mark of the noose around his neck; some say he is a dead man whose time has not yet come. His half-human deputy is kin to coyotes. The mayor guards a hoard of mythical treasures. A banker’s wife belongs to a secret order of assassins. And a shady saloon owner, whose fingers are in everyone’s business, may know more about the town’s true origins than he’s letting on.
A haven for the blessed and the damned, Golgotha has known many strange events, but nothing like the primordial darkness stirring in the abandoned silver mine overlooking the town. Bleeding midnight, an ancient evil is spilling into the world, and unless the sheriff and his posse can saddle up in time, Golgotha will have seen its last dawn…and so will all of Creation.
The Six Gun Tarot by R.S. Belcher was my first foray into the world of Westerns. Even as a kid when my dad would read Louis L’Amour novels I would read the dictionary. Westerns didn’t hold much appeal for me. So why on earth would I have chosen to read this book?
Well, it’s more than just a western. While it’s set in the wild west, it has some steampunk elements, some fantasy elements, and some horror elements. You’d think with so many genres twisted up in one story it would get a little convoluted, but instead everything melded well together. There were a lot of twists and turns, and some beautiful prose as well as metaphors that were refreshingly new to me making this story rich and intriguing.
In some cases, however, the rich details seemed like a bit much. For example, when Jim first arrives in Golgotha we’re told what the town looks like in excruciating detail that even consisted of a type of font used for one of the signs. I like description, but I also like to use my imagination, and I don’t think we needed a map of the town. Reveal it slowly, instead.
Golgotha was a character in itself. The odd little town where odd things happen. We were given hints of odd things that happened before, and the Sheriff keeps wooden stakes and silver bullets on hand because, well, they’re needed.
There was a cast of interesting characters, many of whom had a history revealed through the different narratives. But like other reviewers have said, some of those character’s stories seemed like they weren’t essential to the overall story. For example, the story of Auggie and Clay was interesting, but as neither of them were useful in the final battle it seemed like we were only shown them as a hint to a possible future story, while not actually furthering this story.
Overall, though, The Six Gun Tarot was captivating and swiftly paced. I’m hoping that this is only the first in a series of books that take place in the odd town of Golgotha.