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!