Welcome back to Golgotha Nevada, as we rejoin our beloved characters in the year 1870. Golgotha has been a safe haven for the blessed and the damned for centuries and R.S. Belcher certainly knows how to put the “weird” in a weird western novel. He doesn’t pull any punches and is not shy in the least at throwing the kitchen sink at you throughout the course of this story. All different groups, sects, creatures, and unnatural beings are present in the Shotgun Arcana and it will have you strapped in for a rollercoaster type experience. This will be a spoiler free review, but I will be toughing upon events that take place in book 1.
Golgotha has been saved from the demonic events below the mines and out characters have to regroup and move on with their lives. Sheriff Jon Hightower, also known as the hanged man, along with his deputies have all the trouble they can handle with trying to detain train robbers, investigating several mysterious murders, and more unusual events than they are use to in Golgotha. Deputy Mutt is still in contact with his tribe of coyotes and learns of a horde of 32 of the most viscous killers on earth are on their way to Golgotha. Mutt must warn the sheriff and prepare the town for the invasion. Jim, now a deputy hopes to discover more about his ancient eye from the Chinese community of Johnny town, but what he discovers may be too big for him to control. Finally we have Maude, descendent of Lilith and raising her daughter to be strong while also running a laundromat as a day time job. She will start to have a relationship with one of the towns people after the death of her husband. Maude will be needed in the fight that is to come. We get to see several other characters including: a fallen angel, a mad scientist, and a pirate queen. As I said earlier, the kitchen sink will be thrown at you but it just works.
The Six Gun Tarot was a great debut novel for R.S. Belcher, but the Shotgun Arcana is better across the board. We get more information pertaining to our characters and the events, in some cases tragic, that brought them all together. I mentioned this in my review of The Six Gun Tarot that every character holds a secret. Some of the secrets were revealed while other were hinted at and these revelations were fascinating to learn and wonder what the bigger ramifications are to the rest of the story. It should also be noted the amount of research R.S. Belcher did regarding events from the past, the layout and sections of Golgotha included town segregation, religions, and also the people who would have populated a western town in the 1800’s. This is by no means an easy task and one that should be praised. The stakes are definitely raised in this sequel and the ending will have you reaching to find book 3.
Fans of the first novel or weird western novels such as the Dark Tower series by Stephen King, will love the Shotgun Arcana. I learned so much about the wild west that I didn’t know and at some points it was like reading a national geographic as it was written so well. R.S. Belcher is a name in the SFF community to watch out for as I only see him getting better and better for the years to come.