The West is a wild place, where the poison wind blows and the dead walk. But there is gold, and whiskey, and enough room for a man to forget what he once was -- until he no longer can.
Jack Gabriel's been the sheriff in Damnation almost since the town grew out of the dust and the mud. He keeps the peace -- sort of -- and rides the circuit every dawn and dusk with the chartermage, making sure the wilderness doesn't seep into their fragile attempt at civilization. Away from the cities clinging to the New World's eastern rim, he doesn't remember what he was. At least, not much.
But Damnation is growing, and along comes a schoolmarm. Catherine Barrowe is a right proper Boston miss, and it's a mystery why she would choose this town where everything scandalous and dangerous is probably too much for a quality lady like her. Sometimes the sheriff wonders why she came out West -- because everyone who does is running from something. He doesn't realize Cat may be prickly, delicate, and proper, but she is also determined. She's in Damnation to find her wayward older brother Robbie, whose letters were full of dark hints about gold, trouble. . .and something about a claim.
In a West where charm and charter live alongside clockwork and cold steel, where hot lead kills your enemy but it takes a blessing to make his corpse stay down, Cat will keep digging until she finds her brother. If Jack knew what she was after, he could solve the mystery -- because he was the one who killed Robbie.
The thing is, Cat's brother just won't stay dead, and the undead are rising with him. . .
Saintcrow follows The Iron Wyrm Affair with another dark fantasy full of magic and mayhem in the Wild West. Boston socialite Catherine Barrowe-Brown arrives in the desolate, dangerous town of Damnation, ostensibly to act as the new schoolteacher, and secretly planning to search for her missing brother. In between conducting classes and clashing with Sheriff Jack Gabriel, she encounters zombies, dark magic, hostile townspeople, and unpleasant truths about her brother s fate. Saintcrow weaves romance and mystery into this horror-laced depiction of a weird West, full of spells and things that go bump in the night. In keeping with the attitudes of the era, whites display some uncomfortable biases towards minorities, including Chinese, here called by the French term Chinoise. The plot and setting both raise a number of unanswered questions, and the romance between Catherine and Jack often feels one-sided, but it s still a fast-paced, enjoyable adventure.