Golgotha, Nevada is a dark gritty town with a great deal
of magic in its history. In 1870, it will reach an apex
of chaos which it never has before. Between train
robberies and multiple murders, the law has their hands
full. The Doves, local prostitutes, are under attack
after one is brutally taken in a ritualistic killing.
Malachi Bick, a man who no one can bring themselves to
trust, suddenly discovers the daughter he never knew he
had. Deputy Mutt is dealing with personal concerns as
well as the racism of the town. Of course, all their
troubles are only beginning...
THE SHOTGUN ARCANA is probably the most
interesting book I've read this month. I have read all
sorts of cross genres, but fantasy Western is completely
new to me. I had no idea what to expect. What I got was
completely amazing: a realistic gay character struggling
with religion, angry town elders, a mad scientist, a
know-it-all doctor who really didn't know anything, a
super-empowered witch-woman, an army of magic bad guys,
and someone you can't trust around every corner. It was
completely wonderful, a roller coaster ride of magic with
tarot based chapter titles. I don't want to say too much
for fear I'll give away a crucial twist, but if you have
any interest at all in any of the above elements or in
fantasy Western in general, pick up a copy of THE SHOTGUN
In particular, I didn't notice the point of view
shifts. They were certainly there, but I didn't notice
them. My biggest complaint in multiple point of view
shifts is that they are too obvious; they are not too
obvious here. I care about each character equally,
whether liking them or hating them, and I care enough to
want to hear what they think or have to say. These
characters are rich and dynamic enough that their points
of view all sound different and personally tailored to
them. The prose is also tailored wonderfully. It is
fantastic prose, with not a verb out of place.
My favorite characters are those who are outside
the fringes of society, specifically the Doves and Harry
Pratt. The Doves, of course, are varied women. They all
have something different to say, something different
going on in their lives. However, they are all united
under the front of survival in the harsh frontier. There
is not much more to say about the Doves except that I
found something to admire in all of them. As for Harry
Pratt, I have sought for a realistic LGBT character in
popular novels for a long time. Harry's conflict of being
gay and Mormon is one which causes real tension for his
character. He is truly a beautifully conflicted person,
in love with someone he couldn't be at the time this
novel is set, even in a fantasy story.
THE SHOTGUN ARCANA is an excellent fantasy
Western, and I am glad to say it has set the bar
officially for me as far as future fantasy Western
novels. I hope to read more R.S. Belcher novels in the
future. He is a great writer and I would say that if you
have any interest in the genre, read this book and see
R. S. Belcher’s debut novel, The Six-Gun Tarot, was
enthusiastically greeted by critics and readers, who
its wildly inventive mixture of dark fantasy, steampunk,
the Wild West. Now Belcher returns to Golgotha, Nevada, a
bustling frontier town that hides more than its fair share
of unnatural secrets.
1870. A haven for the blessed and the damned, including a
fallen angel, a mad scientist, a pirate queen, and a
who is kin to coyotes, Golgotha has come through many
nightmarish trials, but now an army of thirty-two outlaws,
lunatics, serial killers, and cannibals are converging on
the town, drawn by a grisly relic that dates back to the
Donner Party…and the dawn of humanity.
Sheriff Jon Highfather and his deputies already have their
hands full dealing with train robbers, a mysterious series
of brutal murders, and the usual outbreaks of weirdness.
But with thirty-two of the most vicious killers on Earth
riding into Golgotha in just a few day’s time, the town
its people will be tested as never before—and some of them
will never be the same.
The Shotgun Arcana is even more spectacularly ambitious
imaginative than The Six-Gun Tarot, and confirms R. S.
Belcher’s status as a rising star.