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Gunfighter Gothic Volume 0: Blood of the Universe Paperback – June 20, 2012
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That quote sums up what I love about Blood of the Universe, Volume 0 of Mark Bousquet's Gunfighter Gothic series. It's a snappy piece of writing and more importantly, it tells the readers that this is a world where the bizarre and unexplained is more or less an every day occurrence. Prevailing wisdom seems to be that when you enter a world like the one Bousquet's created, you need to hold the reader's hand, explain why all this weird stuff exists, or give you a character who's more used to the real world.
I'm tired of that. As a reader, I have no problem being thrown into a world with vampires, zombies, werewolves, and time travel. I've been around the block a few times, don't insult my intelligence by making me go through the whole "why do these pale men have such sharp teeth?" thing.
Fortunately, Bousquet knows better. And he's given us a tale in a genre that I absolutely love -- the supernatural western. Combining these things together makes even the stale conventions of the separate western and supernatural genres feel fresh and new.
A little bit of info on the book's story: in 1866, Jill is a well-to-do merchant's daughter who was engaged to be married and ran off. By her side is her family's servant and her sometime-lover, the Korean-American Hanna. Trying to start a new life, the girls get thrown right into trouble when they came across vampires, werewolves and a time traveling British spy on their train.
And then Bousquet does something really interesting. Jill, who one might assume is the central protagonist? She dies. Writing a book about a duo and killing off one of the partners in the opening pages? That takes balls.Read more ›
Gunfighter Gothic Vol 0 gives the readers an introduction to an alt-history supernatural western in which factions, time travelers, vampires, werewolves, cultists, and all manner of strange creatures range across the old west, in varying states of secrecy. It's a riotous romp with lots of action and starkly drawn but believable characters. A few thoughts:
- This is a book for people who appreciate a fast pace and a writer who doesn't waste too much time "sign posting" every detail in the book. Instead, he lets us stew in the mystery of the world for a bit, letting the reader gather by context what another writer might explain explicitly.
- Like Dan Butcher's Dresden files books, Bousquet creates a world in which all mythologies stand together at the table, and regular people are strangely clueless (or perhaps aware, it's unclear). It seems that once someone is part of the mystical secret underworld, though, they're hardly phased by cave-dwelling lizard men or a secret vampire plot to raise a Nazi army to take over the world.
- The time travel aspect of the book is not as detailed as I would like. We learn, over the course of the two stories, all about the few people given the power to travel through time, but we also learn relatively little about how time travel works in this universe nor about the creature / being who gave them time travel in the first place.Read more ›