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Shadow on the Sun –

Shadow on the Sun

Sunday , 24, December 2023 1 Comment

I enjoy a good weird western. Somehow Richard Matheson’s Shadow on the Sun got past me when first released in 1994. The odd part is I was reading the Richard Matheson westerns and enjoyed them. Journal of the Gun Years was great, The Gun Fight was competent but nothing special, the collection By the Gun collected Matheson’s forays into magazine western fiction from the 1950s.

I picked up the Tor reprint of Shadow on the Sun sometime the past few years (used) and recently pulled it off the shelf to read.

The novel starts with the U.S. Army and an Indian agent meeting with the Pinal Spring band of Apaches to sign a treaty and have the Apaches settle down on a reservation. The narrative switches to the two younger Corcoran brothers watching the proceedings from some high rocks with a telescope. A storm approaches and they decide to go back to Picture City. They don’t make it, something attacks them.

Billjohn Finlay, the Indian Agent who brokered the treaty is back in town where the Corcoran’s older brother tells him his brothers are missing and he blames the Apaches. The story moves right along with a tall stranger arriving in town looking for an archaeologist, Dodge. There is soon a trail of bodies. Finlay is attempting to prevent a fresh round of fighting with the Apaches.

Finlay finds the archaeologist who is very scared but refuses to tell him what happened. Finlay and Washington representative David Boutelle search out the Pinal Spring Apaches who have fled in terror. They find an exiled shaman encouraged by Dodge brought back into existence a creature that is part demon and part man. It can shift from a large raptor creature to man. Nothing can kill it if it kills the shaman who can reverse the reintegration spell.

The last portion of the novel is the climax of finding the shaman and luring the Son of Vandaih in order to destroy it.

This was a great little novel packed in 233 pages. It never felt that it dragged. I have written before that my biggest gripe with the newer crop of weird westerns is the authors often don’t seem to know the Old West. This is not an issue with Matheson who seams the supernatural with the historical very well. Add this to shelf with Robert E. Howard, Manly Wade Wellman, Joe Lansdale,  and Great Ghost Stories of the Old West.

One Comment
  • Backshelf says:

    Available on Audible, for those who listen. I like the sample of Mark Bramhall’s reading.Purchased, but I’ve got to finish Advise and Consent first.

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