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The Shotgun Arcana by R.S. Belcher

It’s been more than a year since my last trip to Golgotha in the fantastic debut The Six-Gun Tarot and now the fated town is back in this smashing sequel. 

It’s the year 1870 and Golgotha, a crazy western town in the deadly 40-Mile desert is no stranger to odd occurrences. Think Sunnydale being the convergence of the hell mouth in Buffy the Vampire Slayer but set in the Wild West! 

Young hero Jim Negrey has settled into his role as deputy helping Sheriff Jon Highfather (the sheriff who can’t be killed) protect the town from villains and the occasional supernatural threat. But nothing can prepare them for what is on its way. 

A cursed skull, a tainted relic from the humanity’s first murderer has had its teeth scattered across the globe. The recipients of the teeth are the most depraved killers and madman society has to offer, and they are answering an ancient evil that is drawing them to Golgotha. Throw into that mix two fallen angels, a pirate Queen and a mad scientist who believes he has found the cure to immortality and you know you’re in for a bumpy ride. 

There are so many characters and so many things happening, but all the madcap elements are skilfully woven together in a wordy tapestry of awesomeness. Even with such a high number of characters, each one is so well described and especially the ones continued from the first book, you do get quite attached to them and care what happens to them in face of such sheer adversity.  

As well as the wicked storylines and dabbles with supernatural creatures and mythology, there is also a lot of philosophical reflection about religion and humanity that is so cleverly mixed in to the story giving it extra depth alongside the action, without being pretentious or unnecessary.  

This book has so much going for it. Like its prequel, it is so much fun and jam-packed with crazy characters, menacing monsters, epic fights and plenty more besides. There is something for everyone and I sincerely hope there are more tales to come out of Golgotha in the near future!


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