Coilhunter is a Weird Western by prolific indie author Dean F. Wilson. It’s the first in his Coilhunter series. The third book just came out last week, and all three are on Kindle Unlimited as of this writing. I plan on reviewing all three for reasons you’ll see below.
The story opens with a scene familiar to devotees of spaghetti Westerns. A lone lawmaker, made steampunk by the presence of an air filtering mask, waltzes into a saloon where a group of men are busying themselves with a poker game. He’s looking for an outlaw, and his mere presence strikes fear into the hearts of all four men. What follows is a quick action sequence where the Coilhunter showcases his gun-toting prowess and brings the body into the lawman’s office, only to find that his usual payment officer has disappeared.
This leads him to hunt down the people who murdered his friend…and eventually the people who murdered his family.
The writing style is a bit distant and many of the scenes felt ripped from the movies rather than realistic, but this is often the case for modern Westerns and Weird Westerns in particular, so I didn’t let it bother me too much. That said, some segments (particularly in the beginning) got a little tell-y, and I didn’t feel like I really sank into Nox’s point of view fully until around a third of the way through.
The world is rich and imaginative. Creatures encountered in the mines and through the desert on Nox’s journey felt threatening and (mostly) realistic, and even the minor characters were engaging and interesting. Dean’s real talents showcase themselves in dialogue. For a “man of few words,” Nox ends up speaking with others quite a bit, and his tongue-in cheek wit and no-nonsense approach to being his own lawman won me over by the end.
The greatest weaknesses in the piece came in toward the beginning and end. The opening tone was distant and as mentioned previously, I had a bit of a hard time sinking into the story until deeper in than I would’ve liked. The ending felt quite rushed and the final scene felt a little cliche, though I’m still interested in seeing where the series ends up going as a whole.
All and all an entertaining read.
4/5, I’ve already borrowed the next two and plan on reviewing them sometime next month.