Title: Unicorn Western (Book One of Nine)
Publisher: Sterling and Stone
Authors: Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant
Price: free (ebook)
Today is Clint Gulliver’s wedding day. Once his vows are spoken, he’ll surrender his Marshal’s badge and his matching pair of magic seven shooters, and ride out of Solace with his beautiful wife Mai — but not his unicorn companion, Edward. Unfortunately, a Water Reader interrupts the ceremony with a dire prediction: the psychopath whom Clint and Edward drove out of Solace is coming back with a small army. And, more, a dark man “riding a unicorn of a different color.” With the townsfolk refusing to defend themselves, it’s up to Clint and Edward to save the day once again — even if they die in the process, leaving Mai an almost-widow on her almost-wedding day ….
I stumbled across a copy of Unicorn Western on netgalley while looking for new fantasy novels to read. Intrigued by the description, I downloaded the file and added it to my To Be Read pile. A few weeks passed before I got to it, and I’m glad when I was finally able to read it.
I thoroughly enjoyed Unicorn Western. This is a terrific mash-up of unicorn lore, fantasy, and the classic western. Platt and Truant gather together all of the well-known tropes of these disparate genres, mix and match, twist around, and come up with something familiar, but also entirely original.
For example: the world of Unicorn Western is divided in two. There is The Realm, a beautiful land of prosperity and free-flowing magic. Then there is The Sands, dry and desolate and almost empty of magic except for the wild unicorns who wander as they please. An exile from The Realm, Clint has no hope of ever returning to it; even if he were to look for it, he could never find his way back. But he is still a Marshal, and there is plenty of lawlessness in The Sands that only a Marshal and unicorn can hope to deal with.
I love the relationship between Clint and Edward. Clint is the typical stoic lawman, but he has depths of pain and courage that most people never see. As for Edward: what most people in The Sands do not understand is that a unicorn is not a pet. A unicorn chooses a Marshal, lending that person their magic to maintain the peace and protect the innocent. Edward may be arrogant, foul-mouthed, and entirely too fond of apple brew and turkey pie, but he truly does respect Clint — and he is hurt that Clint would give up on their partnership to get married and ride off with a woman.
Platt and Truant have also created a unique dialect for the people of The Sands. “Yar” and “nar” in place of yes and no; “pleasem” and “thankoo” and Otel instead of hotel. There are plenty of other examples. The result is almost a sing-song dialogue, whether the speech is words of exasperated affection between Clint and Mai, or hatred and bitterness between Clint and … well, that would be spoiling it.
Also, have I mentioned the epic unicorn brawl?
Unicorn Western is a heck of a lot of fun. The first book is free (for how long, I have no idea) through most digital store fronts. Grab a copy, enjoy it, and then read the rest of the series. I, for one, can’t wait to see what further adventures await Clint and Edward in the desolation of The Sands.
Recommended to fans of The Black God’s Drums by P. Djèlí Clark, the Merkabah Rider series by Edward M. Erdelac, the Jeremiah Jones Cowboy Sorcerer series by H. Duke, and Once Upon a Time in the Weird West.
[Reviewed by Rebecca Buchanan.]