My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I enjoyed this Weird West story very much (with one rather big exception). At first I thought it was going to be the story of a fifteen year old boy, Jim Negry, who is dying with his horse, Promise, in the harsh desert known as the 40-mile as he struggles to get to Virginia City in Nevada. The first three chapters are about him, a little bit about why he's on the run and about his rescue by the deputy of Golgatha, Mutt.
But after that it quickly became something else. It reminded me in a way of a Stephen King story where there are a ton of characters and you bounce back and forth between them. If that bugs you, definitely give this one a pass. As for me, I enjoy that sort of thing if it's done well and it is here though it does get slow a bit here and there.
Jim finds that Golgatha isn't just a silver boom town gone bust, nor is it just a Mormon folly. It has some truly bizarre things going on. Mutt is a half-breed Native American but his father isn't what the townspeople think: he's actually the son of Coyote the Trickster. Jon Highfalter, the sheriff, has been hung three times and survived. It's just not his time. There is a woman who might be the best warrior in town thanks to some of Lillith's magic, an Angel waiting for God to forgive him, gay lovers wishing they could be free, and to all this Jim brings the bizarre glass eye a group of Chinese gave his father who had been injured in the Civil War.
In fact each chapter for the first half the book flips back and forth between the characters and between present and past but it all slowly weaves together to illuminate the danger, an ancient evil, older than God and a group of Golgothians are out to awake it and destroy the world. Jim, Mutt, Jon and the others have to stop it.
It's over all a good Weird West (I wouldn't call it Steampunk like some of the reviews on the cover. There really isn't any Steamy elements other than some of Clay the taxidermists creations). I liked all the characters very much.
My problem is I wish the ancient evil had been left just that, nameless ancient evil but there was some attempts to hook it into the evil serpent legends to be found among several western Native tribes. So it came off like Christianity (with a big assist from a Chinese god) beating up a Native spirit. I don't think that was the actual intention but it can certainly be read that way and that made me highly uncomfortable.
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