The Good, The Bad and The Infernal by Guy Adams
|Book Name:||The Good, The Bad and The Infernal|
|Formatt:||Paperback / eBook|
|Genre(s):||Steampunk / Western|
|Release Date:||March 26, 2013 (US) April 11, 2013 (UK)|
Once every hundred years, the town of Wormwood appears. It’s different every time, in both location and character, yet one thing remains constant; legend has it that Wormwood is home to the greatest of miracles, a doorway into Heaven itself. It’s due to arrive on the 21st September 1889, somewhere in the American Midwest, and this fact hasn’t gone unnoticed.
The Good, The Bad and The Infernal is a tribute to the Western movie genre – in particular the films of Sergio Leone – with some added mysticism, religion, horror and Steampunk thrown into the mix. This may sound like too much of a potent brew, but Guy Adams knows exactly how much of each is right for this cocktail, combining them into a book that is brought to vivid life with every word.
Adams assembles a cast of characters that may sound familiar (there’s an aging gunslinger, a travelling preacher, a pack of outlaws, an eccentric English inventor, to name just a few) yet all are far more than the clichés they could have been. Each is imbued with a distinct voice – some with dialogue that cries to be read out loud – and a personality that doesn’t always conform to type. Many exist in shades of grey, there’s often no discerning between who is the good and who is the bad, while others develop in unexpected yet fitting ways. All share the same goal, to get to Wormwood, although some motives are more suspect than others.
The reader is introduced to almost all of them in a prologue that sets time and place as vividly as in any visual medium. Guy Adams paints the scene with his words, only using brush strokes when necessary, allowing the reader to fill in any blanks. The sense of mystery that permeates the book isn’t so much in evidence at this stage, but as the pages turn, so it deepens, until readers may find themselves wondering if it’s really Paradise that is to be found at the gates of Wormwood.
Yet, travelling is often as much about the journey than the destination (sometimes even more so), and Guy Adams tells three terrific stories set on the road to Wormwood. The first is told from the point of view of a banker, a narrator who immediately seems out of his depth. His tale begins like many Westerns – a stranger in town, he accidentally offends the wrong person – but is imbued with a sly sense of humour. This fades, however, as the narrator’s unexpected journey to Wormwood begins in the company of an old man who is not all he seems. As the mythical town grows closer, so we and the narrator learn more about this mysterious figure, our sense of dread rising. It’s a great tale that’s wonderfully told and, after reading it, one can’t help wonder if the pinnacle of the story has already been reached too early.
It’s an unnecessary concern; the two tales that follow are equally as good, populated with the remainder of the characters we’ve already met in the introduction. Now that Adams has our attention with the first story, he keeps us gripped throughout. I don’t want to say too much for fear of giving anything away, but these two stories tie in more with each other, making the first seem like a separate tale, yet never diminishing its relevance to the book as a whole. Characters weave in and out of these two; there’s never a moment wasted or unnecessary and maybe, just maybe, readers may find themselves cheering for the most unexpected of characters as loyalties shift and revelations are made.
The epilogue sees us at the required time and place for Wormwood’s arrival, along with numerous others, all with high expectations. Yet, there’s a strong sense of unease at the end, a foreboding that nothing will be as it seems. It’s here that the story comes to an apt finish, with the gates about to open, leaving the reader wide-eyed and hungry for more of the same.
The Good, The Bad and The Infernal is a fantastic book, one that is much more than the sum of its parts. Any assumptions the reader may have going into the book are challenged by the lively characters and a plot that – while it may appear simplistic at first – is intricate and, ultimately, satisfying. As homage to the Western genre, it works extremely well, but there’s so much more to this book than cacti-filled landscapes and clapboard towns; by adding something extra, Guy Adams has created something special, the first part of a trilogy that promises to be very entertaining indeed.