Book Review: “The Six-Gun Tarot” by R.S. Belcher

Warning: This book review of “The Six-Gun Tarot” by R.S. Belcher contains spoilers. If you don’t want to read spoilers, avoid reading the rest of this review!

Happy April, everyone! I hope you had a fabulous March and that you enjoy April just as much or better!

I know things are rather uncertain in the world right now, and I wish to continue bringing you joy with my writing more than ever. In fact, I previously mentioned last week that there would be some new content this month for you to enjoy reading. If you missed that post, you can read it here for more details!

Cover of “The Six-Gun Tarot” by R.S. Belcher.

I also want to assure you that this is an actual book review, and not an April Fools’ Day post. This time, I’m reviewing “The Six-Gun Tarot” by R.S. Belcher! I haven’t actually read a western-genre book until now, given how I don’t generally read historical fiction, so this was definitely a new experience for me. Here’s a summary so we know what it’s about:

Buffy meets Deadwood in a dark, wildly imaginative historical fantasy

Nevada, 1869: Beyond the pitiless 40-Mile Desert lies Golgotha, a cattle town that hides more than its share of unnatural secrets. The sheriff bears the mark of the noose around his neck; some say he is a dead man whose time has not yet come. His half-human deputy is kin to coyotes. The mayor guards a hoard of mythical treasures. A banker’s wife belongs to a secret order of assassins. And a shady saloon owner, whose fingers are in everyone’s business, may know more about the town’s true origins than he’s letting on.

A haven for the blessed and the damned, Golgotha has known many strange events, but nothing like the primordial darkness stirring in the abandoned silver mine overlooking the town. Bleeding midnight, an ancient evil is spilling into the world, and unless the sheriff and his posse can saddle up in time, Golgotha will have seen its last dawn…and so will all of Creation.”

Trigger warnings for the following:

Lots of murder and violence happen in this one. There is also a lot of religious language involved in the worldbuilding and some of the major plot points, especially in the latter half of the book that should be noted, in case you are uncomfortable with such content. There are also mentions of domestic abuse and sexism, as well as also some racist terminology used in dialogue between a few characters towards Chinese people in particular, in some chapters, but I take into account that it is a reflection of the time period within the book, given that the setting is in the late 1860s, and this is a historical fantasy book. However, if any of these elements are things you are uncomfortable with, you may want to skip reading this one.

Character Development: 4 out of 5 stars

I found Mutt, Jim and Maude to be my three favourite characters. Each of them had very different backgrounds and approaches to the situations they got involved in (or were involved in), but also acted the best as windows into the worldbuilding and the overall main plot in the book as well. I actually quite enjoyed reading their interactions with each other (especially between Mutt and Jim, and Mutt and Maude), and by the end of the book, I think these three were the best-developed due to their involvement in the main plot and how their actions impacted it, especially in the latter half of the book.

There were other characters that were interesting to read, such as Holly, Harry, etc. but I felt that they 1. Got put aside at times for the main plot and didn’t have much impact on said main plot save for characters like Holly, Jon and Harry or 2. were almost too-minor characters at times and didn’t have much development, other than helping the main characters along certain plot points. I know there is only so much time in the book to develop all the characters, but I wish there was just a bit more development so I felt like they were a bit more rounded overall.

Plot Development: 3.5 out of 5 stars

The first half of the plot mainly consists of several smaller subplots, as the book is divided into chapters focusing on different characters. Unfortunately, this means that the first half of the book acts more as exposition rather than moving a lot of things forward in the main plot, other than one or two major plot points. However, it does culminate in creating a main plot to follow by the second half of the book, making the pacing much faster and concise from there. The actual overall plot is interesting to read, but I just wish the pacing of the plot went a bit faster in the first half for me to fully enjoy it.

Worldbuilding Development: 4 out of 5 stars

The worldbuilding is quite Christian-oriented. We have religious figures and discussions of religion, as well as lots of religious language involved. For those that aren’t as familiar with the Christian faith in general, you might have a hard time wrapping your head around it. As someone who is familiar with it, however, I did understand the gist of the worldbuilding and I thought it was interesting how it played into the main plot, especially the latter half of it.

Overall, I’m rating this book 4 out of 5 stars!

There is some interesting worldbuilding as well as characters and their relationships with each other. However, you have to be patient with the first half of the book to get to more of the main action in the second half.

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