The Six-Gun Tarot - R.S. Belcher Golgotha, Nevada 1869. Fifteen-year-old Jim finds himself in town after surviving the 40-Mile Desert, running from his past with just his horse and his father's magical jade eye in his pocket.

Golgotha has always had a way of attracting and drawing in the supernatural. With its history of unexplained occurrences, the old town is also home to many strange denizens, including Jonathan Highfather, the town's sheriff whose extraordinary luck has always preserved him despite many close shaves with death. Mutt, his deputy, is said to be the son of Coyote. Meek and prim Maude Stapleton, wife of a prominent banker, is actually a deadly trained assassin and a follower of the cult of Lilith.

It all comes to a head when an ancient evil deep beneath the old mines of the mountain is called forth into the world, and the town's motley crew of citizens must join together to defeat the sinister force and its tainted army.

On the surface, this may sound like another one of your familiar characters-get-together-to-save-the-world books, but I have to say in all honesty I've never read a book quite like The Six-Gun Tarot. And it's a great thing. I've always enjoyed westerns whenever I read them, especially when they are mixed with aspects of fantasy and the paranormal. This book was an interesting blend of all that goodness as well as elements of theology and horror.

What makes The Six-Gun Tarot stand out is its world-building and character development. Almost the entirety of the book takes place in Golgotha and its surroundings, with flashbacks to some of the characters' pasts. The town and its population is brought to life by many of these rich backstories.

In fact, at times the book almost feels overly ambitious in these areas. I think it was a good move for the author to keep a lot about the history of the town and its people unexplained to preserve a bit of mystery, but at the same time I was left with so many questions and a desire to know more.

Take Maude's past as an example. What really was the purpose of all her training? Did she put her skills to good use on any adventures between the short time she became initiated and the time she met her husband and got married? Or what about Clay the taxidermist and mad scientist tinkerer? What's the deal there and where was his backstory?

These questions were just a handful of the many that occurred to me while reading. It felt to me that there was so much potential there to be explored, and what didn't get expanded upon seemed like wasted opportunities. This book could have been longer if only to delve more into the history of these characters, since they were what made this book so unique. Perhaps then there would also have been less frequent jumping around of character perspectives, which often got distracting.

As a debut novel, however, I have to say this one was solid. I look forward to checking out more of R.S. Belcher's stuff in the future.