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The weird western is a genre-bending and defying area of books that blends the swagger of a classic western novel with the imagination of a fantasy or science fiction book. Pop culture-wise, the weird western reminds me of Malcome Reynolds from Firefly. He was a six-shot revolver-toting man without a home who roamed the universe instead of the deserts of the west US. Firefly is a bit on the proverbial nose when describing a Weird Western. Books from this genre don’t necessarily need someone toting a revolver. 

Instead, the books have an overall feel of the wild west mythos. 

Sarah Chorn’s Of Honey and Wildfires combines aspects of the old west: railroads, horses, outlaws, and mining with Shine. A substance that flows from the Earth that is a blessing as much as a curse. 

Stephen King’s The Gunslinger is arguably said to have kicked off the weird west genre. It is about a man named Roland of Gilead, The Last Gunslinger. “He is a haunting figure, a loner on a spellbinding journey into good and evil. In his desolate world, which frighteningly mirrors our own, Roland pursues The Man in Black, encounters an alluring woman named Alice, and begins a friendship with the Kid from Earth called Jake.” 

The Gunslinger also has one of the most evocative opening lines of any novel I have read. “The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed.” 

The Last Stand of Mary Good Crow by Rachel Aaron is described as “Deadwood meets The Lord of the Rings in this Epic Fantasy of the West!” And while The Last Stand of Mary Good Crow is not as dark as The Gunslinger, it is also steeped in the feeling of the wild west. It also includes crystals that sing and the incredible powers that the crystals have when harnessed.  

His Ragged Company includes sand golems, shootouts, a town marshall, and a little backwater place called Blackpeak, Texas. “Hunted by a cadre of sandshades and hounded by sinister spellcraft, Elias Faust may be the only bag of skin defiant enough to keep Blackpeak from being destroyed. To outlast the Magnate’s disciples, he’ll need to shoot straighter, run faster, and live longer…even if it means sacrificing a part of himself to do just that.”

Bloodrush by fantasy author Ben Galley takes place in a weird western fantasy set in an alternate 1867. A “dusty frontier town of Fell Falls, there is no silverware, no servants, no plush velvet nor towering spires. Only dust, danger and the railway.”  It includes magic, Faeries, things that bite, and a boy trying to survive. 

1.

Of Honey and Wildfires

By Sarah Chorn

“Of Honey and Wildfires is cut from the very same sort of cloth as Krystle Matar’s Legacy of The Brightwash (though Wildfires far predates it), but is a much quicker read, though no less emotionally devastating. So if you enjoy deep dives into the very crevices of the human soul with the trappings of light fantasy, make sure Sarah Chorn’s Of Honey and Wildfires is on your list – not to mention the two sequels. You won’t regret it.”

Of Honey and Wildfires

From the moment the first settler dug a well and struck a lode of shine, the world changed. Now, everything revolves around that magical oil.

What began as a simple scouting expedition becomes a life-changing ordeal for Arlen Esco. The son of a powerful mogul, Arlen is kidnapped and forced to confront uncomfortable truths his father has kept hidden. In his hands lies a decision that will determine the fate of everyone he loves—and impact the lives of every person in Shine Territory.

The daughter of an infamous saboteur and outlaw, Cassandra has her own dangerous secrets to protect. When the lives of those she loves are threatened, she realizes that she is uniquely placed to change the balance of power in Shine Territory once and for all.

Secrets breed more secrets. Somehow, Arlen and Cassandra must find their own truths in the middle of a garden of lies.

2.

The Gunslinger

By Stephen King

“The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed.

The desert was the apotheosis of all deserts, huge, standing to the sky for what looked like eternity in all directions. It was white and blinding and waterless and without feature save for the faint, cloudy haze of the mountains which sketched themselves on the horizon and the devil-grass which brought sweet dreams, nightmares, death. An occasional tombstone sign pointed the way, for once the drifted track that cut its way through the thick crust of alkali had been a highway. Coaches and buckas had followed it. The world had moved on since then. The world had emptied.”

About The Gunslinger

In the first book of this brilliant series, Stephen King introduces readers to one of his most enigmatic heroes, Roland of Gilead, The Last Gunslinger. He is a haunting figure, a loner on a spellbinding journey into good and evil. In his desolate world, which frighteningly mirrors our own, Roland pursues The Man in Black, encounters an alluring woman named Alice, and begins a friendship with the Kid from Earth called Jake. Both grippingly realistic and eerily dreamlike, The Gunslinger leaves readers eagerly awaiting the next chapter.

3.

The Last Stand of Mary Good Crow

by Rachel Aaron

“By midday, though, everyone was up and riled, and the heat made folks mean. There was a reason men dueled at noon.”

About The Last Stand of Mary Good Crow

Deadwood meets The Lord of the Rings in this Epic Fantasy of the West!

Hungry darkness, haunted guns, tunnels that move like snakes—the crystal mines of Medicine Rocks, Montana are a place only the bravest and greediest dare. Discovered in 1866, the miraculous rock known as crystal quickly rose to become the most expensive substance on the planet, driving thousands to break the treaties and invade the sacred buffalo lands of the Sioux. But mining crystal risks more than an arrow in the chest. The beautiful rock has a voice of its own. A voice that twists minds and calls unnatural powers.

A voice that turns men into monsters.

Mary Good Crow hears it. Half white, half Lakota, rejected by both, she’s forged a new life guiding would-be miners through the treacherous caves. To her ears, the crystal sings a beautiful song, one the men she guides would gladly burn her as a witch for hearing. So, when an heiress from Boston arrives with a proposition that could change her life, Mary agrees to push deeper into the caves than she’s ever dared.

But there are secrets buried in the Deep Caves that even Mary doesn’t know. The farther she goes, the closer she gets to the voice that’s been calling her all this time. A voice that could change the bloody story of the West, or destroy it all.

the ragged company
4.

His Ragged Company

by Rance D. Denton

“It’s going to be difficult to express how much I adored this book, but I’m going to try my best.

You guys.

This book.”

About His Ragged Company

A pissed-off warlock with a taste for revenge.

An army of sand-golems with fistfuls of magic.

A wishing well with a mind of its own.

No wonder Blackpeak, Texas never got its spot on the map.

Town marshal Elias Faust thinks that he can make any problem go away if he throws enough lead at it. The living’s easy for a lawman. Bloody, but easy – that is, until Magnate Gregdon arrives with his undead syndicate to tear the town of Blackpeak, Texas apart.

When a shootout with a pair of outlaws goes sideways, Elias Faust accidentally draws the Magnate’s attention. As if dealing with arcane sorcery, reanimated corpses, and the Magnate’s personal vendetta aren’t enough, Faust finds himself at the center of a power-struggle for Blackpeak’s eldritch secrets.

Suddenly, staying alive just got a lot more complicated.

Hunted by a cadre of sandshades and hounded by sinister spellcraft, Elias Faust may be the only bag of skin defiant enough to keep Blackpeak from being destroyed. To outlast the Magnate’s disciples, he’ll need to shoot straighter, run faster, and live longer…even if it means sacrificing a part of himself to do just that.

5.

Bloodrush

by Ben Galley

“What do you think of when we talk of magic?”
Merino scratched his head. “Rabbits in hata. Doves. Cards,” he said.
“Now, that’s magic. What about magick, with a k?”
“I would say you have atrocious spelling.”

About Bloodrush

When Prime Lord Hark is found in a pool of his own blood, his only son Merion Hark finds his world turned upside down and inside out. The Prime Lord’s last will and testament forces Merion west across the Iron Ocean, to the very brink of the Endless Land and all civilisation. To a place they call Wyoming.

In the dusty frontier town of Fell Falls, there is no silverware, no servants, no plush velvet nor towering spires. Only dust, danger and the railway. Merion has only one ally to help him escape the torturous heat and unravel the mystery of his father’s murder: a faerie warrior named Rhin, and a twelve inch-tall outcast of the fae realm.

Revenge and redemption are never easy. There are dark forces at work in Fell Falls, and not just the railwraiths, brigands or the savages. Secrets lurk in Merion’s bloodline. Secrets that will redefine the young Hark, and open up a whole world of magic buried by empire and industry.

Tell me what you think!

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