It’s 1880 and Jacob Tracy, ex-seminarian, ex-Civil War soldier, currently working as a trail boss taking greenhorns west from St Louis, believes that his ability to see the dead is a curse that brings death and destruction to the people he loves, so he keeps a tight reign on his sight and spends as much time as possible away from populated areas.
He becomes entangled in the affairs of a wealthy young English woman who wants him to develop his gift and help her own supernatural problems.
The book is atmospheric, character-driven and does novel things with vampires, werewolves and demons while celebrating the cowboy lifestyle, so it ought to have been a fun read. Yet, although it is only a little over 300 pages long, I kept finding myself thinking: “Hasn’t this ended yet?”
I think the problem was partly with the pace, which was as leisurely as an ambling horse, and partly with the episodic nature of the tale, which is structured around six encounters with the supernatural that felt more like episodes in season one of a TV show that’s confident of getting a second season. The book stops rather than finishes. I was left unsatisfied with the novel although I enjoyed some of the tales and L J Ganser’s narration kept things moving along.