Hot Iron and Cold Blood: An Anthology of the Weird West is a collection that truly brings some of the most bizarre tales to the table. Scattered amongst a few brutal Western horror tales, this collection has a bit of everything.
Grab your cowboy hat and your six-shooter, and let’s hit the trail! Yee-Haw!
My Thoughts on Hot Iron and Cold Blood: An Anthology of the Weird West edited by Patrick R. McDonough –
To be fair and totally honest upfront, I sometimes struggle with weird horror, as well as Western horror. Bringing these two together had me a bit nervous but also super excited to give it a go! When I was asked to provide an early review, I couldn’t resist.
I found a number of favorites from the collection, with a few more that came in a close second compared to my top faves. But each tale in this collection is so wonderfully unique. I found it so interesting to see how each tale was placed within the collection; the full read certainly takes readers on quite the trip!
From the collection, my favorite stories include:
- The Night of El Maldito by Ronald Kelly
- Rope and Limb by Jeff Strand
- Dread Creek by Briana Morgan
- Hungry by Jesse Allen Champion
- Seeking A Grave In Canaan by Wile E. Young
Per usual, here are my thoughts on each tale:
Set A Spell, The West Has A Story To Tell: A Foreword by R.J. Joseph –
A good foreword gets the readers pumped for what’s to come next. R.J. certainly accomplishes that here! In just a few short pages, I was already feeling the dust and heat of the West rolling in.
Ruthless by Jill Girardi –
Determined to bring a woman back home, this main character is blinded by her own wants. Gathering a group, a tale is told to impress one of the women during the journey. Seemingly innocent, this tale curses them all.
Texas Macabre by Owl Goingback –
Going after bandits, these three are surprised to find that their bullets didn’t take down one of the men. Now, they must find a way to stop him for good.
Holes by Brennan LaFaro –
After the town grew tired of the way this sheriff held power, he moved to an isolated spot. One day, he wakes up to find strange holes all over his land. Thinking they’re made by critters, he doesn’t think too much of it. That is, until they grow and begin to speak…
This tale is so unsettling! Shame that the town appreciated his efforts at first, then made him out to be a monster later.
Soiled Doves by Vivian Kasley –
Knowing she can’t continue with her line of work while pregnant, this young woman takes a powder given to her by another brothel owner. She soon unfortunately finds that the powder was a trick to take down the competition.
Oofh, the body horror here! This poor woman.
About Her Given Name by Kenzie Jennings –
Forced to grow up quickly and fend for herself, this woman isn’t afraid to spill some blood in order to complete her journey.
The Night of El Maldito by Ronald Kelly –
When their best cattle begin to meet horrible ends, these men hear a tale of a shapeshifter and set out a plan of attack. Little do they know, they’re about to bite off way more than they can chew.
I got sucked right into this one! I love a good werewolf tale with a twist! I’d never read one quite like this before. The gore was intense!
The Deviltry of Elemental Valence by Edward Lee –
Taking a job for double pay, this man goes to a cemetery to dig up and move a casket. While dreaming of the sex acts he’ll pay for later, he’s surprised when the person funding this little task shows up…
Old World Birds by Drew E. Huff –
A woman who has birds living inside her meets men and asks them to feed her birds. But soon, each town has enough of her and runs her out. Will she ever be able to settle?
This was one of the most bizarre tales I’ve ever read.
Sedalia by David J. Schow –
In a world where dinosaurs appear and disappear for seemingly no reason, these characters go on a drive to monitor them. Each has their own reasons to be there.
Another absolutely wild tale. I need to try this one again at some point because I’m not sure I understood everything that was going on.
Rope and Limb by Jeff Strand –
Making plans to hang a man who robbed a bank where six people were killed, this man won’t go quietly. He calmly talks to the mayor and townspeople and explains all the things they should do in order to execute him properly.
This one had a wonderful level of humor mixed in with the brutality. I loved this tale!
Dread Creek by Briana Morgan –
Determined to get to a town to ask his girl’s father for her hand in marriage, this man is upset that the group decides to camp for the night. Going to search for water, he doesn’t feel good about what they find. Back at camp, the sun has set, and more than just the darkness from the lack of sunlight begins to roll in.
This story is a love story soaked in dread. So many awful things happen so quickly! I was totally captivated by this one!
It Calls by Patrick R. McDonough –
Riding out a freezing winter, this woman still mourns the loss of her husband. Little does she know, the daughter has made a wish, and that wish is coming true, just not in the way she had hoped.
Part grief horror, part cosmic horror, this was quite a wild ride!
Old Habits by L. M. Labat –
Recalling scenes from the very recent past, this young man writes in a journal to process his struggles with the relationship he and his father have as well as the things he stood idly by while his father profited off the sick and needy.
This tale is heartbreaking in so many ways! I so hope this kid got a happy ending.
Hungry by Jesse Allen Champion –
Working to build a railroad, dreaming of their families back home, one man is deeply unsettled by the area they have wound up in. Turns out, he was right to be disturbed.
This tale had one lovely note that set off the alarm bells, then it got dark so quickly! While absolutely brutal, I loved this one!
The Redheaded Dead by Joe R. Lansdale –
During a tornado, this man shelters in a structure. Once the wind dies down, he’s shocked to see that a metal rod that he had seen earlier in a graveyard has been flown into the building. Now, he has a new mission…
Seeking A Grave In Canaan by Wile E. Young –
When approached with a job, this man tried to warn them away. But they know who he is and they know they need a devil on their side.
This one starts with some bloody action before taking a brief pause to let readers breathe before diving head-first into the horror. I’m obsessed with this story! I was so excited to see Salem Covington back in action.
An Exploration of the Weird West: An Afterword by Patrick R. McDonough –
A wonderful summary of how this book came to be along with a quick note on each tale!
My Favorite Passages from Hot Iron and Cold Blood –
Johnny had no time to cry out before the dynamite packed tightly under his ass blew him to smithereens, raining chunks of Mabry from the sky. Shit, some of him maybe even landed back in Buzzard’s Edge. Only on the outskirts, though.
— Holes by Brennan LaFaro
I made to move past them when I heard the flick of a pistol hammer pulled back. I spun on my heels and let the Gun sing; the bullet split the man’s head open like kindling on a chopping block. Bits of his brain splattered over his companions, both watching with wide eyes and trembling guns, then they ran.
— Seeking A Grave In Canaan by Wile E. Young
My Final Thoughts on Hot Iron and Cold Blood –
Weird Horror and Western Horror fans alike, you need this anthology! Begin your read and prepare to get lost in the dust and gunfire.
Thanks for reading!