Wild West fiction is not dead. Far from it. There is something about the lawless rough justice in the old west that just keeps pulling people in. It was a simple time where morals were enforced with violence. The primal side of us can relate to that. As much as we abhor killing, somehow in that environment summary justice seems right. Before long I can see Westerns as being seen as just another flavour of fantasy.
This book however isn’t your standard western. The horror elements make this feel almost like a noir story but not quite. For me there is definitely something that reminds me of Roald Dahl’s Talles of the Unexpected. Even the cover art has the almost surreal qualities I remember from watching that TV series. I can remember sneaking out of my bedroom at night to watch it on TV and reading this book took me back to that feeling. A guilty pleasure with some added tension and a slice of the gruesome.
I have read Spider Tribe before and enjoyed it just as much on the second reading. All of the stories in this book are about Hawthorne. Normally I’d expect a gradual drip feed of back story but in this collection details of Hawthorne’s past are kept deliberately vague. That really adds to the mystery of the man and I couldn’t help trying to fill in some of the blanks. I was fully invested in these stories before I was half way through the book.
Every story is interesting and has a different twist of the macabre. If you like your horror with an unusual twist or want to read a different take on westerns this is an ideal book for you.