Shotgun Arcana by R. S. Belcher is the sequel to the first book in the series, The Six-Gun Tarot. Mutt, Jim, Sheriff Highfather, and company are back in this wild west fantasy tale. In this read, the Deputies and the Sheriff face off against a rogue angel and his army of serial killing cannibal cultists who are searching for a magical skull. If they can get the skull it means the end of all life on Earth as well as every other word. If the heroes of Golgotha-- the Deputies and the Sheriff along with a few others-- fail to stop the cult, no one will survive.
The tale is told slightly different as each chapter from the perspective of the hero is followed by a backstory chapter focused on one of the thirty-two cultists. Each of the flashback chapter is used to explain the backstory of the cultist and why this horrible person needs to be killed. This book also includes several flashbacks from Golgotha local angel who now goes by the name Bick. Each one of those flashbacks is its own chapter as well. Somewhere more than a third of the book is therefore a flashback of one type pr another.
Shotgun Arcana is set a year after the events in The Six-Gun Tarot. This means those events and what has happened these past twelve months have further changed these characters. For example, Jim has gained confidence and has fully embraced his inheritance of the magical eye and is seeking to become the master of it. Another example is the fact that Bick no longer has faith in the goodness of men and seeks to control the citizens of Golgotha. There are many other changes which should be saved for readers and not revealed here.
The banter is as great as ever as they discuss and reference events that happened outside of this book. One example is where folks had to be evacuated after giant spiders came up the drains into bathtubs in tremendous numbers. When an event happens in this book that results in many people being forced to leave a building, one of the people starts screaming about hoping it is not giant spiders again.
Everything that I loved about the first book is included once again in this series that absolutely must be read in order. Shotgun Arcana is good, but there are a lot of plot points that are obviously included only to create the next book in the series. They serve no purpose in this book. That was a bit annoying as much of this book is used to create that third book titled, The Queen of Swords.
R. S. Belcher
Tom Doherty Associates (Tor)
Hardback (also available in digital and paperback formats)
My reading copy came from the Downtown Branch of the Dallas Public Library System.
Scott A. Tipple © 2020
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