R.S. Belcher

Review: The Shotgun Arcana

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Review: The Shotgun Arcana

In the two years since I finished The Six Gun Tarot – the first book of the Golgotha series and R.S. Belcher’s debut novel – I’ve managed to read his urban fantasies Nightwise and The Brotherhood of the Wheel, and enjoyed the heck out of both of them. I just found out that the third book of the Golgotha series is coming out in June, so I’ve now officially run out of reasons to put off reading the second.

The Shotgun Arcana starts decades before the main story, with Malachi Bick – prominent Golgotha town citizen and also exiled angel – joining the rescue party that finds out exactly how some of the members of the Donner Party managed to survive being trapped in the frozen wilderness with no food. Only in this version of 1840’s California, an ancient relic was responsible for sparking the atrocities that winter. The relic’s influence is contagious, and spreading fast.

Twenty-three years later, the most horrible people from around the world find themselves called to Nevada. A tiny town on the edge of the 40-Mile desert is becoming the nexus of murderers and cannibals (and worse), along with angelic battles, mad science, Pinkerton detectives, American-Indian magic, and a trapped horror from the dawn of humanity. Things are about to get very weird in the town of Golgotha.

They might, just possibly, get even weirder than they already are.

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The Best Books of 2016

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The Best Books of 2016

2016 may not have been the best of years, but it saw the release of some amazing books. And since Elizabeth has been focusing more on her artwork these last few months (check out her Daily Doodles on instagram) this year I get to keep the entire “Best Of” list for myself, myself, you hear?! Mwa ha haaaa!

*Ahem* Sorry, got a little carried away there. Click the jump for a list, in no particular order, of my ten favorite books from 2016.

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Review: The Brotherhood of the Wheel

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Review: The Brotherhood of the Wheel

The difference between a fairy tale and a truck driver’s story is that the fairy tale starts with “Once upon a time,” whereas the truck driver’s story starts, “You ain’t gonna believe this…” – An Old Trucker Saying

Jimmie Aussapile’s trucker handle is “Paladin”, but he certainly doesn’t look like a holy warrior. Balding, mostly unshaven, growing a bit of a gut and never without his chaw and a cup to spit in, no one would suspect him of being a knight of the realm. But that’s exactly what Jimmie is, a member of the Brotherhood of the Wheel, the fighting branch of a tiny offshoot of the Knights Templar. The group consists of truckers, bikers, construction workers, and many others who make a living working the highways and secretly defending the roads and the people who travel on them.

It’s a hard enough job on the best of days, what with murderers, road ragers, and other lunatics being strangely drawn to the interstates. But it gets harder when a ghostly hitchhiker (not an uncommon sight on the roads) pulls Jimmie into a deeper mystery of kids going missing all across the country. The disappearances also bring in a police investigator with her own reasons for obsessing over missing children cases, and a smart-mouth biker with PTSD and his own connection to the Knights Templar.

Set in the same world as Nightwise, R.S. Belcher’s latest book is an urban fantasy/horror story of dark magic, remorseless killers (supernatural or otherwise), a small band of determined fighters, and a forgotten town with a centuries-old maniac working to destroy the world.

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Review: Nightwise

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Review: Nightwise

It was supposed to be one last favor for an old friend: track down the man who tortured and murdered Branko Bojich’s wife (along with many, many other people) and exact revenge so that a dying man could have some measure of peace in his last few days. Dusan Slorzack seems to have dropped off the face of the earth, but the search for him is being done by none other than legendary Laytham Ballard, world-famous wizard. Shouldn’t be too much trouble.

At least that’s what he thinks until a possible connection to Slorzack turns up dead. And then another. And another. Fires and strangulations and at least one car bomb, seven bodies in all, sending a very clear message: Back off.  Now Ballard has to go on the run while trying to find a Serbian war criminal with possible ties to the Devil himself, all without getting killed by demons, disappeared by dirty cops, or losing any more pieces of his soul than he’s already traded away.

R.S. Belcher’s first two books were set in the Old West in a little town that’s gotten surprisingly used to supernatural events. His latest novel, Nightwise, is a modern day urban fantasy where supernatural events are everywhere, with magicians, gods, and monsters in a life-or-death struggle – or just trying to make a living – all taking place just below the surface of what the rest of us believe is “reality”.

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Review: The Six-Gun Tarot

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Review: The Six-Gun Tarot

Why is Golgotha the town where the owls speak and the stones moan? Why is this the town that attracts monsters and saints, both mortal and preternatural? Why is our schoolhouse haunted? Why did Old Lady Bellamy wear the skins of corpses on the new moon? How did old Odd Tom’s dolls come to life and kill people? Why do you still pour a ring of salt around that unmarked grave and how did this little ditch of a town become the final resting place of some of Heaven’s treasures?

I picked up R.S. Belcher’s book from a list of recommended horror novels that I thought would work for a pre-Halloween review. I ended up putting it down for a while, since it seemed to be more Western than horror. It’s a Weird Western though, which was a nice surprise. There are shape-changing Indians, a rough-and-tumble frontier town (with a separate Chinese district, natch), a dandy of a Morman mayor with two wives and a dangerous secret, and a lot of other strangeness that made things interesting, but it didn’t really seem all that scary.

Of course that was before the appearance of a cult which kidnaps people and feeds them to an ancient darkness from before the beginning of time, creating an army of human-shaped drones who drip black-ink poison from every orifice and create more drones by forcing the slug-like creature that replaces their tongue down the throat of another hapless victim. And that was after the appearance of a decapitated and rotting head being kept alive in a jar, and the Devil himself hanging around the town trying to figure out how he can profit on all the things going on. This book got dark kinda fast.

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