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Posts Tagged ‘r.s. belcher’

It’s been a few years since I read the last Weird Wild West book that was written by R.S. Belcher and needless to say I’ve been “jonesing” for more of tales from the Weird Wild West. So like any “junkie” that’s thirsty I reached for the next best thing for my literary “high” from Mr. Belcher. It’s like thinking that you settled for a whole bag of questionable bathtub meth and ended up with a bag of premium Peruvian blow … at bathtub meth prices. Meet Nightwise. But before I continue rambling on with drug metaphors that would most likely put me on certain law enforcement radars … I think it would be best if I just shut up with the bollocks and move on with the bloody book review. Yeah? Why not.

Nightwise takes place in the current world where magic, sorcery, necromancy, and alchemy goes by side by side with technology. Or as those immersed in it would call it … The Life. And we’re not talking about that Harry Potter, hocus-pocus-dysfunctim-erectus bollocks. Oh no, no, NO. This is the kind of magic that bring stuff that goes bump in the night into your room as you sleep at night while it sits on you and decides what to do with daft mortal that felt that they could mess with the unknown. Laytham Ballard is one such, immersed in The Life, known as a wizard (though he may correct you and say the actual term is Wisdom). He is Mickey Spillane meets Constantine meets Nathan Drake (from Uncharted … aye, I’m a gamer) meets Tyler Durden. Yes, your typical anti-hero. When a deathbed promise, to a dying friend, puts him on the trail of Dusan Slorzack (Serbian war criminal extraordinaire) the shit basically hits the fan (and quite early in the book). The problem with Slorzack is that he can’t be found on earth. All traces of him has vanished from the digital and magical databases. Even the Devil can’t find him, and Dusan owes him his dues. Needless to say, Dusan is into some really scary stuff that would make every who has ever bitched about Harry Potter books reconsider their perspective. Though Laytham is quite the solo act, he has no other choice but to team up with an usual bunch: magical hackers, a fetish model, a transgender Australian shaman, a Japanese gun master and Templar truckers (more on that … in another book). And it is good thing, since he’s up against vicious invisible hellhounds, backstabbing necromancers/summoners, magical boobytraps, scary god-like creatures, and bankers (yes, you are reading right). And in this world filled with magical ley-lines and other such bollocks it is hard divine who is trustworthy and who is not, and people are sometimes more than what they seem.

Written in first person (Laytham’s) perspective, Belcher does not hold back and it is quite THE ride. Along with acidic and dark humour, Laytham is the kind of chap that we can hate but still root for. And though this book is fiction (at least I’m really hoping it is) let’s just say I wouldn’t be picking up any white Bic lighters I find lying around especially in restrooms (trust me on this … it’s in the book). For those that miss Belcher’s Weird Wild West writings … fear not, he’s brought us into the 21st century and what a blast is … all the way down to the last page. Might not want to look too closely and ponder about certain symbols on your US dollar bills if you care about sleeping well at night after reading this book. And the silver lining about this is that … it is the first book in a series. Yes, we are not completely done with Mr. Ballard. Jolly good show, Mr. Belcher. Jolly good show.

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I’ve become a fan of Belcher’s steampunk, weird West novels. After having read Six-Gun Tarot and Shotgun Arcana, I became Kirsten Dunst’s character in Interview With The Vampire and I wanted MORE. And somehow, Mr. Belcher heard my silent plea and brought forth Queen Of Swords. Took me a while to get my paws on this one since the library only ordered a few copies (bloody hell) for the ENTIRE system (aye, a travesty) and so I had to join the other mortals and put in a REQUEST for this one. Took me a while to get it but when it showed up on my desk … there was Handel’s Messiah sung with Enya’s voice … purring in my ear. Yeah, I know … need to get out more (and I did … was in Vegas in the last week of September … more on that in another forum). So enough with the bollocks .. . and let’s get this book review on the road, yeah?
Belcher’s first two books, in this series (why is he saying series and not trilogy like he said in the past reviews … patience, mates or feel free to skip ahead and read … and possibly miss some Vegas stories … who knows), took place in the Midwest city of Golgatha. Queen, however, takes place in South Carolina, London and Western Africa. And this time, everything is mostly centered around Maude and Constance Stapleton who we all know are members of a secret cult of women known as the Daughters of Lilith and these women are badasses (think witches combined with ninjas … yes, some serious stuff). In previous books there has always been mention of Anne Bonny, the pirate queen, that not only is a distant relative but a mentor (of sorts) to the Stapleton women. Queen, however, delves deep into the life of Anne Bonny and I must admit she’s a loveable asskicker. But hey Evil Parrot, you may say, what or who is the bad guy in this one? Pushy aren’t we … but I’ll be a good chap and all. Meet Typhon, a sort of octopus monster-thingy wearing a really bad human disguise but is quite the evil tosser you’d love to hate. Oh did I mention like Lilith, he is the Father of a cult that is mostly male and rivals the Daughters of Lilith: the Sons of Typhoon. And yes, for those that have fired up an extra neuron or two have figured that … yes … Typhon and Lilith had thing, possibly engaged in copious amounts of the good old in/out, in/out … and like most relationships, things went tits up and here we are. As most of know, previously, Constance had moved away from Golgatha to be with her grandfather in North Carolina and apparently the grandfather was holding on to her whilst claiming his daughter, Maude, was seemingly unfit as mother. I guess it was that whole exposing-your-daughter-to-battles-with-demons-monsters-and-cannibals thing that must have gotten this bloke’s knickers all twisted. What a pissy bastard, that one. A bit too hard on the man, you say? Eh, maybe. Nay. So Maude is off to Charleston, South Carolina to reclaim her daughter that results in a fiery courtroom battle featuring a female lawyer (Maude’s representation and possible future regular character), Arabella, that is just as vicious as any of skirmishes in the book in its subtlety. Keep in mind that this is the 1800s where lawyers were mostly men and yet Arabella manages to make Gloria Alred look like a bottom-feeding ambulance chaser. Whoa, did I go a bit too far on that one? Maybe, and yes, I guess I did go there. So along with dealing with a cantankerous father, Maude now has to deal with the emergence of the feral Sons of Typhon and some other Daughters of Lilith. And the focal point of this madness: her daughter Constance. And yes, we get to meet some more Daughters: Inna and her daughter Lesya Barkov(Russians), Leng Ya (Chinese and arrogant as hell), Amadia Ibori (cool headed African), Itzel (Guatemalan and deceptive in appearance) and Alexandria Poole (English, with possibly ice for blood). Did I mention that they are very formidable badasses. We’re also introduced to the mystical/somewhat spirit guide/sensei Raashida (very ancient, African and witty).
Queen is written in two timelines, approximately a century apart, detailing the life of pirate queen Anne Bonny and her quest along with the “present” craziness involving the Stapletons, the Sons and the Daughters. This is not, I caution, mere filler stuff when it comes to the two timelines and it is done purposely that adds to the delightful climax in the novel. How, you ask? I’m not going to be a bloody tosser and say, mates. Sorry, that’s how the Evil Parrot rolls. Also a few adorable notables: Alter Cline ( reporter that’s apparently gunning for Maude’s affections), Belrose (a French mercenary that is seemingly drunk throughout the entire book), Adu (the enigmatic African guide that is enigmatic as he is formidable), and Nourbese (a Yoruba Amazon that makes Rhonda Rousey sound like a ballet dancer). Our favourite half-breed (half coyote/half man) Mutt, along with Golgatha, makes a brief appearance. Still trying to figure out the dynamics behind that whole coyote-man thing … and then often spend a bit erasing the imageries from my mind. But the best part is the trip, towards the end of the novel, is getting there: sinister plots, betrayals, ulterior motives … all caught in an adrenaline-infused roller-coaster of emotions (mostly anxiety and fear) as Belcher hurtles … like a screaming banshee on fiery steed … towards a conclusion that would make you anxious as the last page approaches. And yes, I don’t think Mr. Belcher is done with the Weird West (at least that is another of my silent pleas in hope of another book). Good show, Mr. Belcher. Jolly good show, mate. Keep it coming. Just don’t go George R.R. on us. And yes, I did go there, GoTers.

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shotgunarcana_cvr

R.S. Belcher returns us to the fantasy-filled, steampunk wild West world of Golgatha. Golgatha is a strange little town where all is not quite as it seems and it is populated with strange, enigmatic, and in some cases, terrifying characters. In Shotgun Arcana, Belcher returns with some the old crew: Maude Stapleton (the female assassin/pirate), Jon Highfather (the sheriff that is seemingly unkillable), Mutt (the half-Indian/ half coyote … still trying to figure out that arrangement), Jim Negrey (the deputy with the strange jade eye) and Malachi Bich (the mysterious, charismatic fallen angel). Believe me, there is quite an intriguing roster of delightful characters I’d love to mention but that would make me a complete and proper tosser and it would deprive your curiosity. Translation: you’ve got to read this book … but don’t take my word for it. Oh alright then … please do be a good sport and take my word … just a wee bit.
It is the year 1870, and Golgatha had just endured a wee little Wurm problem a year ago (something about plunging the universe in darkness and chaos … yeah, small stuff … please see the first book). As the residents of Golgatha begin to pick up the pieces and life seems to return to normal (if there is ever such a thing as normal in the town of Golgatha), a new evil rears it head in the horizon. No, it is not a Bruce Jenner reality show chronicling his “changes”. The horror, the bloody horror. A mythical skull said to contain a vile force, that once released would turn the world into a murderous fury, is sought by a mysterious Ray Zeal (who apparently had a past with Malachi Bich). Even worse, a collection of some of the vilest beings, ever imagined, are all being summoned by a strange sinister force. How file are these wankers you say, let’s just say that they make those ISIS assholes look like a bunch of daisy-picking, little girls … dressed in pink tutus. Come to think of it ISIS backwards is SISI. I’ve detoured slightly. And guess where all these fine specimens of gene pool maladies converge on? Ah yes, the unwitting town of Golgatha. No rest for the wicked, yeah?
So as Golgatha gears up fo another cataclysmic showdown of apocalyptic proportions, some interesting are added to the Golgathan roster: a female Pinkerton agent, a Madame that could probably take down Rhonda Rousey very easily (Rhonda can, however, take me down ANYTIME), and a bouncer that is a well-read, teddy bear with the personality of glacier (wtf … you say … trust me). And that’s just the folks on the good side.
Shotgun Arcana is like a runway train, hopped up on meth, careening into blinding lightspeed as the suspense and action takes readers into an explosive conclusion that could only be measured in kilotons. And it will have most readers jonesing for the sequel. This IS, after all, trilogy, right Mr. Belcher?

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