THE SHOTGUN ARCANA by R.S. Belcher

THE SHOTGUN ARCANA

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KIRKUS REVIEW

An 1870s Western town suffers a fresh assault of eldritch threats in this compelling and action-packed sequel to The Six-Gun Tarot (2013).

A shattered skull inhabited by the spirit of murder draws its former guardian, the corrupt angel Raziel, and his disciples, a horde of insane cannibals, to the town of Golgotha, Nevada, just in time for Thanksgiving. It’s up to the doubting angel Biqa (aka Malachi Bick, the town’s saloon/brothel keeper and richest man) and Golgotha’s other unusual citizens to defeat the evil crew. Romance also blooms in town between a number of couples, including Clay Turlough and his best friend Auggie’s undead former wife, Gerta, whom Clay has resurrected via stitched-together corpse parts and a serum concocted from demonic worms. Belcher attempts to shoehorn 21st-century values concerning women’s rights, fair treatment for sex workers, and interracial and gay romance into a late-19th-century milieu. That might not entirely ring true—but on the other hand, most of what happens in Golgotha is plenty (and enjoyably) implausible anyway. What seemed like a too-large cast in the previous installment makes more sense in the context of a longer series; the author has definitely extended and deepened our relationships with these people. Just as Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s hometown of Sunnyvale sat on a Hellmouth, so, too, does Golgotha act as a nexus for all things supernatural and sinister. The real question is why anyone would choose to stay there; the sad but generally intriguing truth is that most have nowhere else to go, and incursions of chupacabras, spectral spiders and serial killers seem like a small price to pay. Can Belcher keep things fresh as he continues to chronicle the doings of this doomed desert town? Only time will tell.

On to the next apocalypse!

Pub Date: Oct. 7th, 2014
ISBN: 978-0-7653-7458-5
Page count: 400pp
Publisher: Tor
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15th, 2014




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