When I first heard Guy Adams had published a weird west-steampunk-horror novel, the first of a trilogy no less, I simply had to get my hands on it. After reading The World House and Restoration, I thought it would be a safe bet The Good, The Bad and The Infernal would also be a great read.
I was not in the least disappointed.
The Good, The Bad and The Infernal is one wild ride of a read. It is also not for the faint of heart, as it does not pull any punches, but I am getting ahead of myself. First: A few words about the story. Central to the plot of the TGTBaTI is a town called Wormwood. The town appears once every hundred years somewhere on Earth and in it is a gateway to heaven.
We follow four parties on their way to Wormwood: An English Lord and inventor, accompanied by his daughter, a phony author of adventure fiction (and a really sad character) and a group of monks, all travelling in a vernesque land train independent of tracks.
A lone traveller who gets picked up (and you could argue press-ganged) by an even lonelier traveller with a history.
A freak show band of outlaws (their leader, Henry Jones, is a very scary and very interesting character) and a sleazy con man, masquerading as a priest, dragging along a freed (?) slave girl and Soldier Joe, a brain damaged Civil War veteran who may be in direct contact with an inhabitant of Wormwood.
Interestingly, and adding to the enjoyment of the novel, the narrative style changes with each party.
The story begins as a regular Wild West story. There is turmoil, drunkards, people getting into gunfights, outlaws rescuing other outlaws from prison and a rural church service. The further we get into the book and the closer the protagonists come to Wormwood, the weirder it gets. And this is where The Good, The Bad and The Infernal, and Guy Adams, do not pull any punches. Guy really lets the reader partake of the weirdness and horror his characters have to endure. Wormwood alters the reality around it and those alterations are bizarre. We encounter living towns, mutated wildlife, deserts where the borders between the dimensions are unstable and on top of it: We meet a lot of the dark that lurks within the soul of men. Even some of the self-declared good people are bad people and one bad guy, I rejoiced when his time was up. Alas, the tale is not free of collateral damage when it comes to victims.
The Good, The Bad and The Infernal is a Tour de Force, a confrontation with the weird, with the evils within and without. What starts as a Wild West /Weird West/ Steampunk adventure soon turns into a Steampunk supernatural horror tale. And some of the images The Good, The Bad and The Infernal creates in your mind… Oh my Cthulhu!
Just as The World House and Restoration I could not put The Good, The Bad and The Infernal Down, it was too gripping a tale and it is further proof, Mr. Adams is one of the leading modern authors of fantastic literature.
10 out of 10 Zeppelins.
And I am eagerly awaiting the next part of the Heaven’s Gate Trilogy.