Whispers Out of the Dust; or, Adventures in Reviewer Parallax

And this concludes, for now, my look at the weird westerns of David J. West.

Low Res Scan: Whispers Out of the Dust: A Haunted Journey Through the Lost American West, David J. West, 2015.

Cover by Nathan Shumate

I wanted to like this anthology of weird western stories. It has the things I like: a series of linked stories, epigraphs opening each one, and each story purporting to be from a document. And it was obviously a work of love from West who even includes a map and purported photos of some of the stories’ location around the town St. Thomas at the center of the book and now beneath the waters of Lake Mead.

The stories take place between 1885 and 1938, and West presents them as a collection of documents he found, along with a toad statue, in a discarded trunk at a Mormon thrift store. And there are plenty of weird elements: ghosts, evil medicine men, liches, ghouls, giant Gila monsters, thunderbirds, haunted lost ruins, and spectral riders.

But I found most of the stories uninteresting to the extent I didn’t make any notes on individual titles.

Not all of the 18 stories are dull. A member of John Wesley Powell’s Colorado River party makes some disturbing discoveries in “Gods of the Old Land”. I’ve already reviewed “Right Hand Man” which features Porter Rockwell.  “The Thing in the Root Cellar” is about a household servant who tries to warn his employers of a menace lurking there. “Black Jack’s Last Ride” is about the doom that overtakes an outlaw for a heinous crime committed long ago.  A mysterious woman a man meets in a saloon turns out to be a harbinger of death in “A Rose for Dolly”.  The final story, “Bury Me Deep”, concerns activities around a notorious local man’s grave and his daughter showing up to request a favor of the narrator. She’s an interesting enough character that I’d like to see her in another story. 

The parallax on this one is provided by The Horror Review.

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