TERRITORY by Emma Bull


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Bull (Finder, 1994, etc.) attempts to recast the events leading up to the gunfight at the O.K. Corral as a psychic battle between good and evil sorcerers.

In 1881, following an attempted stagecoach robbery in which two men were shot dead, a pall hangs over Tombstone, Ariz. Rumors circulate that the gang included dentist Dr. John Henry “Doc” Holliday, a drunk and inveterate gambler who’s somehow constrained to do the Earps’ bidding, and Morgan Earp himself. A posse pursuing the robbers, including Sheriff Johnny Behan, deputy U.S. marshal Virgil Earp and Virgil’s brother Wyatt, grab Luther King and throw him in jail. But, according to Harry Woods, editor of the Tombstone Nugget, King’s told only what the Earps want others to hear and will soon be killed. Woods prevails upon his lady typesetter, journalist and writer Mildred Benjamin, to help him free King; Mildred asks an acquaintance, Jesse Fox, a horse-tamer and trainee sorcerer, to hire a horse for King. Though the escape apparently succeeds, later a severed arm—King’s—thumps into the dust outside the Nugget offices, together with a talisman warning off sorcerers like Jesse. When a young Chinese prostitute is murdered, Jesse joins his mentor, the wise old physician Chow Lung, to investigate, wondering if somehow the Earps are again involved. But soon somebody shoots Lung dead. The town nearly burns to the ground. Clearly, an evil sorcerer is orchestrating events. Despite Mildred’s skepticism, Jesse is forced to accept that he must do what’s necessary.

Talky, often impenetrable, and so what? An indigestible concoction that’ll stick in most folks’ craws.

Pub Date: July 10th, 2007
ISBN: 978-0-312-85735-6
Page count: 336pp
Publisher: Tor
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1st, 2007


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