Well, you thought all I did was review movies, didn’t you? Ha! Fooled ya. I have been doing book reviews for a long time—but it’s been a while since my last one. I was sent a couple of books to review, but I just now got around to this one. My last Weird Western (I think) was John Whalen’s Vampire Siege at Rio Muerto (2013, column #24). That one was all vampires; this book contains a large number of supernatural critters. The Weird Western is actually a pretty long-running genre in both literature and movies/TV; I remember at least one Twilight Zone episode set in the American West, and I’ve seen a couple of movies—including TV movies—which were also set in the old (weird) West.
I was not familiar with the author, KC Grifant, but the book tells me she’s a Southern Californian who’s contributed to a lot of anthologies—this is her first novel-length work—and who is a member of SFFWA and a co-founder of the San Diego Horror Writers of America chapter. You can find her website at http://www.kcgrifant.com.
Okay, here’s the plot: it’s an Old West (approx. 1880-1900) setting with one difference: there’s something evil, called The Edge, which is a blighted area that sends out weird insects and other nasty stuff. Melinda West and her (boy?)friend Lance are bounty hunters who’ve tracked down wanted people, but are mostly retired from that business and now make a living ridding towns of flying scorpions and other nasty pests. She also meets ghosts and a demon in the course of this book.
Melinda is a gunslinger who never misses, though Grifant doesn’t dwell on her weapons (most Westerns talk about the make or the calibre of various revolvers and long guns) except for the “Malgun,” a sort of super-shotgun for which she only has one round. She and Lance have to find whatever it was that took a piece of Abel’s soul, Abel being the older man who taught Melinda everything she knows about gunfighting, monsters, etc. Along the way they find Eloise, who is somehow aligned with the bad people.
It’s pretty fast-paced, and blends the Western and Weird genres pretty well; she’s a competent gunslinger, and seems to have a fair share of luck as well. When Lance loses a piece of his soul, Melinda is forced to go to the actual Edge to find the solution to her (and perhaps the world’s) problems.
I wasn’t terribly excited by the cover to the book, until I had finished reading the book. Then I realized it’s a pretty good cover, as it matches the book’s contents very nicely. At any rate, as a reader of both Westerns and weird fiction—as you probably know I am—I thought the book delivered. It’s from Brigids Gate Press, an indie publisher in Kansas, and is also available from the author’s website (see link above), or Amazon ($5.99 US Kindle, $8.99 CDN).
And if you’ve read this far, here’s a treat for you: I’ve pointed out a number of Storybundles over the years, and I just got a notice for a new one that fits nicely into this week’s column: it’s the Weird West bundle! This bundle expires in just 3 weeks, and it’s your chance to pick up this book and several others in the same genre for a great price! (Click the Storybundle link to go directly to this bundle). You get four books for whatever you want to pay plus, if you pay at least $20, you get seven bonus books! (That’s less than $3 each if you only pay $20! That’s US currency, btw.) You also get to decide how much of your purchase goes to the author; the common split is 70% to the bundle and 30% to the author(s), but you decide the split. I’ve bought a number of bundles and it’s a heck of a deal.
Did you like this column? Did you hate it? Whatever you thought, let me know by commenting here—or on Facebook, or even by email (stevefah at hotmail dot com). All comments are welcome! (Just be polite, please.) My opinion is, as always, my own, and doesn’t necessarily reflect the views of Amazing Stories or its owner, editor, publisher or other columnists. See you next time!