I really enjoyed this short, engrossing tale, which seamlessly weaves genres into a concise, yet utterly enjoyable narrative. Although short, not epic by any means, this otherworldly story of a young, western-style gunslinger living in a mystical world inhabited by monsters and mages still manages to encapsulate complex characters and emotive depth. There is plenty of action, and pretty gripping it is, too, combining old-fashioned shootouts with magical wards and spells, but the real quality to this brief quest excursion is the layers of the characters, perhaps none more so than the ambiguous and contrary, yet you sense infallibly honourable Captain. Henry himself is also an enjoyable character, utterly human in his emotional frailty, hiding his secret identity of having been born in a female body. This particular topic may be contemporary in nature – perhaps not – but it is not generally an integral part of the story; Henry is a gunslinger who falls in love while fighting monsters on a mage’s quest – in a narrative of 40,000 words, there is no real room to get into the nuts of bolts of identity, and the author crafts this character, like the others, with sensitivity and complexity, all at the same time.
Myka Silber is a tremendous writer. I really enjoyed their style, being carried away along with the characters, feeling every bit of their fear and paranoia; their suspicions with each other and their employer, the mage who has commissioned them to get her through the dreaded canyon, for her own sinister reasons. But even the mage herself is not just fearful, but afraid. There is a distinct humanity running throughout Myka’s work, and the pacing of emotion relative to action is perfected. The book was short, but it was also a specific quest narrative; there was no filler and no real development either side of the situational context. But that’s one of the things I liked about it; it was almost like a novella or short story – one of countless tales in this world that the author has created. In fact, I would very much like to see more such stories from Myka, drawn from myths and legends based in this land – maybe even an entire volume of such stories, like the swashbuckling tales of Merlin and King Arthur; all short, snappy and engaging.
I don’t love fantasy, I’ll admit, but there is something immensely satisfying about Rider’s Blood, Moonlit Black. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it to fans of fantasy, or western, or fantasy western, nor would I say fans of the LGBT genre can expect to find this element thickly applied. Rather, this is a book for everyone; adventure in its most traditional sense, and it is a perfect way to spend an evening. A wonderful novel by an author with a real talent.
Tags: myka-silber western fantasy magical otherworld monsters action adventure lgbt