Another great anthology from Sirens Call Publications bringing fourteen short stories set in the Weird West by Maynard Blackoak, and fellow Oklahoman.
My favorite short story is “Claire Simmons”. In this story, George Anders, a collector of old books and documents reads pages from an old journal written by a Cole Perkins long ago. It tells a story of lost and unrealized love. George reads the story Cole tells in his written story set in Ingall, Oklahoma, an old ghost town that was alive long ago with an infamous shootout. What happens to Cole once he reaches the town just after midnight is a bittersweet tale of lost love. While the story doesn’t end how I would have thought, it is definitely a great story nonetheless.
I loved that he didn’t saturate the stories with cliche forced western dialogue. That was a small fear when I read the title, and a very pleasant surprise when I read the first story. He did take me on a journey as promised of the Weird West. I have never read stories of the West that had werewolves, or even vampires. Don’t worry, there are more eerie creatures that won’t disappoint. This is a unique idea and executed well by Blackoak. I was really impressed with the stories and how they brought the common thread of the West together.
One of the stories that brought the historian out of me was “The Most Killed Man in the West”. This story is about a man Dynamite Dan Clifton that dies time after time. All because he enjoys robbing banks. This is a favorite past time of the Indian Territory and shortly after Oklahoma became a state, but not as much. I guess old habits die hard for Ol’ Dynamite Dan. So, the story catches up to Dan when he’s dying from of course a bank robbery and follows him to Guthrie, Oklahoma. I have heard of this place maybe once or twice. In Guthrie, they rob a bank. Of course, he dies, but how he is able to come back to life time after time came at me like an explosion of dynamite. I wasn’t expecting it.. but I did love it. My only minor let down was that when his cohorts and he ride into Guthrie and they are surveying the layout, Blackoak doesn’t give a description of what they see in their mind, but that doesn’t effect the story at all.
I love that the facts used in the stories are accurate and his knowledge of the history of Oklahoma is realistic and he was able to apply it to his characters’ stories and lives. While there’s an eclectic collection, they all have a common thread of the West and yes, the word “weird” doesn’t do some of the stories justice.
I highly recommend this collection if you like stories that end with a twist, history of the west, or even the idea that there’s vampires, mythical character cameos or werewolves in the west… like how did they get in the west? But they made it there and fit in very well! Maybe I have been looking at the West in the wrong light all these years ….
You can find this book full of weird tales at these sites: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/666687