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Review: Queer Weird West Tales Anthology

Queer Weird West Tales Anthology

Genre: Weird Westerns, Anthology

LGBTQ+ Category: Ace, Bi, Gay, Gender Fluid, Lesbian, Trans FTM, Trans MTF

Reviewer: Maryann

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About The Book

Frontiers have always attracted the Other – where they find that the Other is always already there. These 22 stories explore what happens when queer characters encounter weirdness on the edge of the worlds they know.

Authors include: Julie Bozza, J.A. Bryson, Dannye Chase, S.E. Denton, Miguel Flores, Adele Gardner, Roy Gray, KC Grifant, Peter Hackney, Bryn Hammond, Narrelle M Harris, Justin Warren Jackson, Toshiya Kamei, Catherine Lundoff, Bunny McFadden, Angus McIntyre, Atlin Merrick, Eleanor Musgrove, Jennifer Lee Rossman, Lauren Scharhag, Sara L. Uckelman, and Dawn Vogel.

The Review

Queer Weird West Tales is quite a collection of short stories that fall into different types of liminal fiction. Each of these authors brings their own writing style to this collection, and they left me with many interesting thoughts. There is something in this anthology for everyone. I selected a few to review, though they were all great.

 NO MERCY DOWN IN THE MIND BY LAUREN SCHARHAG

Sally “Bootheel” Doyle is on the run from Emmett and the Sturges gang. In the beginning it was different – Sergio had found Sally at the age of five and she joined his crew. Emmett was already part of the gang. Then things took a drastic turn, and Sally had no choice but to run.

Nine days later, with her compass on the blink and old mek Reina gone, she stubbles into Mobley.  Barely making it to the trough, she notices no meks around. But she can’t believe the things she sees next: a black oily substance, blood, carcasses and the sheriff’s head.   

After she awakens, she meets Joanie, Amos Fisher, Sam Westfall and the women and children of Mobley. She notices there are very few men. The townsfolk tell her that 180 men went into the mine and only 83 return. A chamber was opened up in the mine, and the people of the town claim there are now monsters there.   

With no one coming into Mobley, and those that leave not coming back, Sally puts a plan in motion. Seven brave women will follow her to the Shadow Mountain mine to retrieve what they need to make the plan work, but not without a fight.  

Unfortunately for Sally, Emmett and his gang show up, and Emmett seems very willing to help the town. Will Sally finally find out who the monsters really are, and will she make the right decision in the end?

Lauren Scharhag spins a tale of suspense and action that skillfully blends horror and the reality of what the Old West was like. Sally, Joanie and the other women of Mobley are the real heroines of this tale. It was a real page turner.

 MAGIC CASEMENTS BY JULIE BOZZA

Oscar Wilde, playwright and poet, has travelled to Leadville, Colorado. He’s scheduled to give a lecture at Leadville’s Tabor Grand Opera House.

He meets a young miner, Antoine, who works in the Eurydice mine. Antoine tells Wilde of the darkness that is overwhelming in the mine, and a cavern that has been discovered with many sculptures.  

Antoine guarantees Wilde’s safety, and along with other miners, they bring enough torches to light the entire mine. Wilde’s not sure of what he has seen, and tells Antoine to leave him in total darkness. What will he come face to face with?

I have to thank Julie Bozza for bringing me an Oscar Wilde tale. Having read a few Wilde tales (and planning to read several more fact/fiction stories that him in the near future) I really enjoyed this story.  

MEMENTO MORI BY DAWN VOGEL

Clamity Jane wakes up in a not-so-normal jail cell after drinking too much the night before.  Everything is much cleaner than she’s used to, and even her clothes that have been changed.

A stranger comes to get her, carrying her saddlebags, and seeking information on the items inside. She tries to describe them, but they don’t seem the same. Everything is too clean and cold for her liking.

She starts to panic when items that she pulls from the saddlebags are not her’, especially the deck of cards with the “Dead Man’s Hand.” They do belong to someone she knew – Wild Bill Hickok. When she pulls out a Bible from the saddleback that leaves her stunned, she will need to make a decision that will affect more than just her own fate.

Vogel creates a unique tale of Clamity Jane and Wild Bill Hickok, making the reader use their imagination about where Clamity Jane is, and how Hickok got involved with this strange man. 

HANDGUNS BY J.A. BRYSON

Havalyn “H.G.” Grace is now in Scrub Buzzard Oasis, and is spending some self-pitying time in the Sidewinder Saloon. But H.G. has had enough, and ready to leave Drek, one of the four moons.  There has to be better bounty hunting elsewhere, so it’s time to move on.

Mack the barkeep delivers another drink to her, and she’s surprised who it’s from – none other than Cassidy Malone, crime boss.  

H.G. and Cassidy once had a fling, but an heir to the criminal dynasty and a street thug just didn’t work together. H.G. has six more cycles to finish parole, can’t leave the Quadrat, and can’t get involved in anything illegal.  

Cassidy makes H.G. a deal she can’t refuse. The crime boss wants Maisy Llewelyn Tisdale, a woman already wanted for murder by the sheriff, and there’s a bounty. But Cassidy wants Maisy more. She took something from Cassidy, and she wants it back. 

Cassidy offers double the sheriff’s bounty and a clean record that would give H.G. a new start. H.G. takes the deal, and with carbide for hands and a new pod she’s off to the Forty-Six’s perimeter.

It’s not an easy task.  Besides trying to capture Maisy, they’re up against Wyatt and Roach, who also want the bounty. And they’ll face those pesky pixies, mega-arachnid, mega-vermin and the Grisly Crickets. H.G. will have to make some hard decisions what to do about Maisy and Cassidy.

Bryson brings us a fast paced, exciting and dangerous tale.  Even though it’s a short story, all the characters are well crafted, and their feelings come through perfectly. The world building is outstanding. A well done, entertaining page-turner!

Editor Julie Bozza did a magnificent job in selecting so many fantastic stories for the Queer Weird West Tales anthology. All of the stories are well done, entertaining and thought-provoking, and each of the authors showed off their talent and delivered an amazing short story that’s well-written and teases the reader’s curiosity.  

And Bozza’s “Introduction” is a must read, as she explains speculative fiction and the different range of LGBTQ+ characters in the book, and how each author has made them a part of their story.

This is a magnificent group collaboration, and well worth the read!

The Reviewer

Hi, I’m Maryann, I started life in New York, moved to New Hampshire and in 1965 uprooted again to Sacramento, California.  Once I retired I moved to West Palm Beach, Florida in 2011 and just moved back to Sacramento in March of 2018.  My son, his wife and step-daughter flew out to Florida and we road tripped back so they got to see sights they have never seen.  New Orleans and the Grand Canyon were the highlights. Now I am back on the west coast again to stay! From a young age Ialways liked to read.

I remember going to the library and reading the “Doctor Dolittle” books by Hugh Lofting. Much later on became a big fan of the classics, Edgar Alan Poe, Mary Shelley, Bram Stoker and as time went by Agatha Christie, Ray Bradbury and Stephen Kingand many other authors.

My first M/M shifter book I read was written by Jan Irving the “Uncommon Cowboys” series from 2012.  She was the first author I ever contacted and sent an email to letting her know how much I liked this series.  Sometime along the way I read “Zero to the Bone”by Jane Seville, I think just about everyone has read this book! 

As it stands right now I’m really into mysteries, grit, gore and “triggers” don’t bother me. But if a blurb piques my interest I will read the book.

My kindle collection eclectic and over three thousand books and my Audible collection is slowly growing.  I have both the kindle and audible apps on my ipod, ipads, and MAC. So there is never an excuse not to be listening or reading.

I joined Goodreads around 2012 and started posting reviews.  One day a wonderful lady, Lisa Horan of The Novel Approach, sent me an email to see if I wanted to join her review group.  Joining her site was such an eye opener.  I got introduce to so many new authors that write for the LGBTQ genre. Needless to say, it was heart breaking when it ended.

But I found a really great site, QRI and it’s right here in Sacramento. Last year at QSAC I actually got to meet Scott Coatsworth, Amy Lane and Jeff Adams. 

 

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