Book Review – Dead Man’s Hand, edited by John Joseph Adams

Dead Man’s Hand
Edited by John Joseph Adams
Release Date: May 13, 2014
Publisher: Titan Books


For some reason, my reading preferences never led me towards Westerns. I read just about everything else genre-related (well, except for romance), but never got into that area. I’m not sure why. I guess horror dominated my tastes. So imagine my surprise and delight when Titan Books released DEAD MAN’S HAND, an anthology of the Weird West. I was intrigued to say the least, but I had no idea the treasures this book held in store for me. Within its pages are a vast array of bizarre and horrific stories that will enthrall even the staunchest of genre fans. And I will bet there’s something in there for non-fans as well.

If you are not familiar with DEAD MAN’S HAND, here is the book’s synopsis courtesy of Titan Books:

From a kill-or-be-killed gunfight with a vampire to an encounter in a steampunk bordello, the weird western is a dark, gritty tale where the protagonist might be playing poker with a sorcerous deck of cards, or facing an alien on the streets of a dusty frontier town.

Here are twenty-three original tales—stories of the Old West infused with elements of the fantastic—produced specifically for this volume by many of today’s finest writers. Included are Orson Scott Card’s first “Alvin Maker” story in a decade, and an original adventure by Fred Van Lente, writer of Cowboys & Aliens.

Other contributors include:
Tobias S. Buckell * David Farland * Alan Dean Foster * Jeffrey Ford * Laura Anne Gilman * Rajan Khanna * Mike Resnick * Beth Revis * Fred Van Lente * Walter Jon Williams * Ben H. Winters * Christie Yant * Charles Yu *

I am so proud to own a copy of this book. It is chocked full of mesmerizing tales that will stun and engage readers of every kind. And it boasts some highbrow talent as well, including a few of my favorites: Tobias S. Buckell, Alan Dean Foster, Tad Williams, and Jonathan Maberry.

Every story in DEAD MAN’S HAND is written well and carefully crafted for maximum impact. The wide variety of talent showcases a multitude of unique voices and highlights each author’s distinctive style of storytelling. As a result, it is very easy to jump from one story to the next.

This great diversity of writers is one major aspect of what makes this book so enjoyable. I liked every story in this collection, obviously some more than others. But each one was a pleasure to read, and in doing so, I found a few more authors who I plan on checking out in the future.

One of my favorite stories in DEAD MAN’S HAND is “Strong Medicine” by Tad Williams. In this tale, a man arrives in town in order to help them…but nobody in town knows what he’s supposed to help with? As sundown approaches, strange things start to happen, and only the stranger knows what is going on. I love this tale because it caught me off guard; I never expected the events that were to happen within it, and the surprise is a lot of fun.

DEAD MAN’S HAND is an excellent anthology, and I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a good, unique story. There’s so much to like in this book, including science-fiction, fantasy, and horror. As such, I would wager there’s something for everybody here. Give it a look for sure.


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