The Good, the Bad and the Infernal by Guy Adams

Rating 8.7/10
A quirky Western/Steampunk/Supernatural thriller.

One day every hundred years, a town appears, its location and character different every time. It is home to the greatest miracle a man could imagine: a doorway to Heaven itself. The town’s name is Wormwood, and it is due to appear on the 21st September 1889, somewhere in the American Midwest.

There are many who hope to be there: traveling preacher obeisance Hicks and his simple messiah, Soldier Joe; Henry and Harmonium Jones and their freak show pack of outlaws; the Brothers of the order of Ruth and their sponsor Lord Forset (inventor of the Forset thunderpack and other incendiary modes of personal transport); and finally, an aging gunslinger with a dark history.

They will face dangers both strange and terrible: monstrous animals, predatory towns, armies of mechanical natives, and other things besides. Wormwood defends its secrets, and only the brave and resourceful will survive...

This quirky Western/Steampunk/Supernatural thriller has all the usual Guy Adam’s trademarks: Humour, inventive turns of phrase, strong dialogue and action.

I loved the setting, clearly Adams is a huge fan of the Spaghetti Western genre, and with this latest novel is having a lot of guilty fun.

This is packed with larger than life characters, so many in fact that it makes your head spin. I had to keep reminding myself this was the first in a trilogy, and to be patient. As the narrative jumped from one group to another, I soon got a clear picture of who these people were, their personalities and just why they would find themselves on the road to Wormwood.

This is a Western with a difference: along with the breakneck, frantic action, there are also exciting inventions, as well as the supernatural. Above all, this is an affectionate homage, infused with humour and horror.

Adams manages to write from multi-perspectives, cranking up the tension, menace and suspense (something evil is out there). Cleverly, this is a story about facades: nothing and no one are really as they first appear – I was reminded at one point by a scene in the spoof Western, “Blazing Saddles” where an exasperated Slim Pickens exclaims: “The Whole town’s a fake!”

With freak weather turning on people, weariness, mistrust, people hiding from their pasts you know something big is going to happen... Sadly it all ends on a cliff-hanger. This does manage to set things up nicely for the next instalment. I thoroughly enjoyed a fantasy novel that was brave enough to tackle the Western genre, and from what I have read so far, this is a series that has much promise.

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