Wednesday, January 8, 2014

REVIEW: The Six-Gun Tarot by R.S. Belcher

The Six-Gun Tarot The Six-Gun Tarot by R.S. Belcher
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I picked this book up thinking it was an urban fantasy in the Wild West, and what I read wasn’t far off from that impression. It’s a small town fantasy; not a big difference. Where I went wrong was thinking it would be exciting. It wasn’t — at all. The book was goddamn awful. It was so awful it took me 2-3 months to finish, speaking as a reader who in a motivated mood can finish 2-3 novels in a single day.

One chapter in and I already knew this book wasn’t going to be rated more than 2 stars. Two chapters in and I started to feel the urge to DNF. Three chapters, skim, I chanted to myself, skim in the way a woman giving birth chants to herself to push. To say the beginning was slow is an understatement; the beginning was DAMN FUCKING slow.

+ the plot

The ENTIRE BOOK was DAMN FUCKING slow because the flashbacks would not desist. The plot kept flashbacking all the way up to the middle of the fucking climax! The climax, I say! Every time the plot felt the whim to explain, it did so in flashbacks. Like buy 1 flashback, get 2 flashbacks free! And these were NOT short flashbacks. I get the point was to show, not tell, but this was showing beyond ridiculous. (Funny enough, I later read a book that was all tell and no show.) I swear, one-half to two-third of the book was flashbacks.

The multiple viewpoints exacerbated the problem. There were way too many of them as if it couldn’t be decided who were the main characters and who were the supporting characters; everyone needed their own fucking flashback. Let me tell you who the main characters were: runaway Jim, Deputy Mutt, housewife/assassin Maude, and Mayor Pratt. Everyone else needed to back off from the motherfucking stage, especially the angel dudes.

+ the characters

Every. single. character came with a goddamn sob story and a gold-pan full of secrets. “Look at me! Look at me! I have layers. I am complex.” The book wasn’t as pretentious as it just tried too hard. It was done in the belief that only characters with baggage are interesting and worth analyzing for literary value, e.g. Maude with feminism and domestic violence (domestic violence doesn’t discriminate against kickass immortal woman) or Pratt with religion and homosexuality (Mormon and gay, enough said). Characters couldn’t just be characters; they existed only for points to be made or things to be analyzed. Message heard loud and clear and bluntly smashed to the head for good measure.

Ironically, most of the characters were developed in a superficial manner and with self-defeated purpose. For example, Ch’eng, as a Chinese immigrant, lend the book more diversity and showed racism in a thought-provoking way that wasn’t your usual “white people back then were racists.” He was a Chinese mafia boss of the small town and he showed the reader racism on the Chinese side and how racism played a big role in survival on the American frontier, but in a respectful way that didn’t diminish the racism of the white characters and make it into a “but they did it too” whine. It was too damn bad that he got pigeonholed as the Magical Asian to dispense esoteric wisdom to ignorant white people, or in this case, to a white kid (Jim) like in The Karate Kid (the 1984 version). Bzzzzzz, subversion fail. And Ch’eng was only a supporting character. The main characters were greatly more problematic (this review goes in-depth about it).

Anyway, no surprise for me to say I did not connect with any of the characters and cared very little whether they lived or died. If anything, I wished more would die so there would be one less viewpoint I was forced to read, excuse me, skim through. The only character I had a handful of sympathy for was Jim because he was only an ordinary kid stuck in shitty situation forced upon by irresponsible adults. All right, and because Jim was the first character introduced and thus taking all the servings of my sympathy pie.

+ the world building

Not a big complaint in comparison to what has already been complained about, but it’s worth the discussion. I didn’t mind that the world building was Christian-oriented in the way TV show Supernatural or Sleepy Hollow is Christian-oriented. I was, however, disappointed that non-Christian religions were made subordinate to the Christian belief, token in their references, and that all of it comes back to the almighty G. Well, at least the book challenged the idea of blind faith.


I rate The Six-Gun Tarot 1-star for I didn’t like it. The book was ambitious, I can tell you that. It aimed for the moon; however, it missed and hit the fiery fatal sun instead. It was a total DISASTER and read like an unedited, overwritten self-published work.

The ending sucked. It was dreary and it unnecessarily left some things up in the air. It’s like there was a rule in the book that the characters could not simply be happy that they were still alive or have a fresh start. It’s like... what was the point of stopping the apocalypse? How pointless.

Please note that the book is shelved as steampunk on Goodreads, but there’s nothing that is steampunk or even steampunkish in this book.

Goodreads | Amazon

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