For Book Review Wednesday, I’ve something a bit unusual. It’s a classic Western-style story (complete with runaway mine cart!), but with elements of steampunk thrown in. Definitely a book worth reading if you want to try something new.
Welcome to the Wild North, a desolate wasteland where criminals go to hide—if they can outlast the drought and the dangers of the desert. Or the dangers of something else.
Meet Nox, the Coilhunter. A mechanic and toymaker by trade, a bounty hunter by circumstance. He isn’t in it for the money. He’s in it for justice, and there’s a lot of justice that needs to be paid.
Between each kill, he’s looking for someone who has kept out of his crosshairs for quite a while—the person who murdered his wife and children. The trail has long gone cold, but there are changes happening, the kind of changes that uncover footprints and spent bullet casings.
Plagued by nightmares, he’s made himself into a living one, the kind the criminals and conmen fear.
So, welcome, fair folk, to the Wild North. If the land doesn’t get you, the Coilhunter will.
My Review: 5 Stars
I didn’t know what to expect from this novel, as I’m not a huge fan of Westerns. But I LOVED this book from start to finish!
It had the gritty, grim feel of a classic spaghetti Western, but the addition of the steampunk elements made it truly fantastical. It was one of those books that kept me turning the pages—I literally read the entire book in two or three sittings.
Not only was it a lot of fun, but the character of the Coilhunter was very well-developed. I loved his way of speaking (again, classic spaghetti Western mannerisms and expressions), but it was the deeper character elements that made him a character I could truly sympathize with. I can’t wait to dive into Rustkiller, the second part in this series.
Here’s a Taste:
His boots made a rhythmic thud against the floor, drawing the attention of everyone in the room. His boots were the first thing you noticed. Then the eyes travelled up, saw the long, deep blue coat and the holstered pistols, and turned away swiftly again when they spotted the mask and tubes beneath that deep blue hat.
The people who recognised him had a dozen different names for him, and all of them were grim. The Coilhunter. The Sandsweeper. The Masked Menance. The people who didn’t recognise him would come up with new names of their own very soon.
He kept an even pace, slow and steady, the kind of pace that was at odds with the frantic heartbeats of the onlookers at the inn. One of his arms swung like a pendulum, and it reminded people of the fleeting pace of time. The other arm did not move at all; it stayed at his side, close to his gun.
A little mechanical duck waddled along behind him, creaking and squeaking, its wide eyes matching those of the people who dared to look. It was a toy, a kind of wind-up device full of springs and cogs, and yet many knew that it was a dangerous toy.
He scoured the room with his eyes, piercing everyone, almost piercing the walls as well. The mask accentuated his stare, as did the black lines around his eyes. The brim of his hat cast a shadow that made the whites of his eyes stand out even more.
The final thud seemed a little louder. He halted, then reached for his coat pocket, and people flinched. He held up a rolled-up poster, and let it unfurl noisily in his hand, revealing the mugshot of a criminal, Old Mad Jack, the ominous word Wanted, and the prize of one hundred coils beneath. Cold, hard coils, traded for the cold, hard dead.
“This man,” he said, his voice muffled by the mask, yet not muffled enough to hide the grit. “Ya seen ‘im?” He prodded the paper with his dust-covered finger, the kind of finger exposed almost constantly to the sand and the sun. The kind of finger that spent a lot of time on a trigger.
Most heads turned away. A few braver souls gave the slightest shake of their heads. There was no one brave enough to talk. The duck shuffled up to the Coilhunter’s foot and gave an ominous little quack.
A puff of dark smoke came from a vent on the left side of the Coilhunter’s mask. No one knew why. On the other side, pipes connected the mask to a cylinder on his back, where he also kept a strapped guitar and a four-barrel shotgun.
“Ya see,” he croaked, “I know this man came this way, and there ain’t no other rum-hole for miles. They say Old Mad Jack’s a drinker, and I say a drinker cannot pass a rum-hole without poppin’ in for a drink.”
The barmaid tensed up at the bar, polishing a dirty glass a little more vigorously than before.
“So,” the Coilhunter continued, “let me repeat this, and let me tell ya that I don’t like repeatin’ things: this man … any o’ you here fine fellows seen ‘im?”
Three men playing cards in the corner exchanged nervous glances. The Coilhunter caught them, and strolled over. The duck stayed where it was in the centre of the room, watching everyone.
“You boys,” the Coilhunter said, gesturing with the chin of his mask to them. “Good game, is it?”
“J-j-just a game o’ Don,” the oldest replied, the cards trembling in his hands.
“You wan’ in?” the youngest asked. The others scolded him with their eyes.
The Coilhunter drew real close, close enough that they could see the cracks in his weathered skin. “I want an answer to my question.” He hammered the poster onto the table, over the cards. Old Mad Jack stared up at them. “Get a real good look-see, and each o’ ya tell me one by one that you ain’t seen him ‘fore I put his ugly mug down on this table.”
The youngest looked like he was about to say something. Only the stares of his companions stopped him. The Coilhunter placed a hand on his shoulder and turned his chair around. The youth held up his cards before him like a shield.
“You look like a smart boy,” the Coilhunter said. “The kind o’ boy with a good memory and a good eye. Maybe a good eye for faces. Maybe a good mouth for speakin’ who those faces are.”
“I might have—” He cut himself short, silenced by the glances of the others.
“Where’s your manners, boy? You’re talkin’ to me. You look at me.” He gestured with his hand towards his own grim eyes. The exhaust in his mask let out another menacing puff of smoke.
The young man looked back, keeping his cards up. They wouldn’t help him.
“I ain’t got all day,” the Coilhunter told him. “You ain’t got all day either.”
“H-h-he’s out b-back.”
The Coilhunter smiled. He knew they could not see it behind his mask, but they could see it in his eyes.
“He ain’t out back,” a voice said from far across the room behind him. As the Coilhunter turned, he saw Old Mad Jack standing behind the bar, rifle in hand. “He’s right here.”
About the Author:
Dean F. Wilson was born in Dublin, Ireland in 1987. He started writing at age 11.
He is the author of the Children of Telm epic fantasy trilogy, the Great Iron War steampunk series, the Coilhunter Chronicles science-fiction western series, the Hibernian Hollows urban fantasy series, and the Infinite Stars space opera series.
Dean previously worked as a journalist, primarily in the field of technology. He has written for TechEye, Thinq, V3, VR-Zone, ITProPortal, TechRadar Pro, and The Inquirer. He is also a USA Today & Wall Street Journal Bestselling Author.
Find the book on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01N4OYM2L/
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