Book Review: Devil’s Tower by Mark Sumner

A Review of Mark Sumner’s novel Devil’s Tower (Del Rey, 1996)

Devil’s Tower is a sprawling, entertaining novel that blurs the boundaries between fantasy, western and horror. Set in an alternate Wild West ruled by hexes and conjurations, it tells the tale of Jake Bird, a reluctant hero who begins as a lowly stable hand and ends up as the only man who can stand up to the magic of General Custer, a powerful madman who threatens the entire country.

This novel has a lot going for it, and it might be just what you’re looking for on a lazy Sunday when you want to lose yourself in a rousing adventure for a few hours. The opening chapter grabs you and doesn’t let go, and the rest of the novel is fast-paced and vividly written.

So, who probably won’t like this book? Well, after all, this is a fantasy adventure novel, and a Western to boot. If you’re looking for more than a variation of the standard boy-comes-of-age-and-defeats-Evil plot, this probably isn’t your cup of tea. Ditto if you’re looking for deep, complex characters, or if you don’t like graphic violence (the carnage toward the end of the novel is worthy of any Clive Barker opus). But if you like the work of Joe R. Lansdale and other writers of weird westerns, you’ll probably enjoy Devil’s Tower as much as I did.

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