The Shotgun Arcana

Written by R.S. Belcher
Review by Bryan Dumas

Set in the 1870s fictional western town of Golgotha, The Shotgun Arcana follows the lives of its unkillable town sheriff and his two unusual deputies, the city’s resident capitalist overlord who is really a fallen angel, a mad scientist trying to skirt death, and the great-granddaughter of the pirate Anne Bonny. This collection of heroes faces off against yet another fallen angel who has come to town with thirty-two of the world’s most despicable humans to claim an ancient artifact that could end humanity—and the heavens—for all time.

This is a sweeping tour-de-force of imaginative storytelling and steampunk technology that is more off-beat western than historical. R.S. Belcher swirls a cauldron of philosophical reasoning with a dash of steampunk science and dark violence. The one thing that put me off to reading straight through were the myriad—some fourteen plus—characters that he introduces us to. Because of this, it was difficult to connect with any one specific character though there are many that have enough quirks to help them stick with you as you progress. The graphic depiction of violence may not appeal to all, but it helped establish the tone for the novel. A good book if this is a genre that appeals to you.