I’ve spent most of my life west of the Mississippi, where ghost towns and ramshackle homesteads dot the landscape. It’s the history that lingers on in the land I know best. The Old West is a favorite setting of mine, especially when mixed with my favorite genres. Whether it’s weird western horror, steampunk adventure, western-influenced dystopia or historical fantasy, you’ll find something to hunker down with here.
Walk on Earth a Stranger, Rae Carson (2015)
Genre: historical fantasy, young adult
Series: Gold Seer Trilogy
When & Where: Gold Rush era, California
The story: Lee has the power to sense gold in the world around her, and people will do anything to control her. In California, where gold abounds, she can be herself for the first time.
Killer of Enemies, Joseph Bruchac
Genre: dystopian, fantasy, steampunk, cross-genre, young adult
Series: Killer of Enemies (2013)
When & Where: post-apocalyptic, American Southwest
The story: When tech stopped working, the monsters got loose, and Lozen started hunting. Her powers are tied to an Apache legend. As her ancestors foretold, Lozen is destined to be a hero.
Six-Gun Tarot, R.S. Belcher (2013)
Genre: steampunk, weird western, horror, historical fantasy
When & Where: 1869, Nevada
The story: Golgotha, Nevada is a town of secrets, with monsters lurking in the shadows. But the abandoned mine hides a new threat. If it can’t be stopped, the darkness emanating from its depths will swallow everything.
Silver on the Road, Laura Anne Gilman (2015)
Genre: heroic fantasy, western, historical fiction
Series: The Devil’s West
When & Where: Old West era, Western Territories
The story: The Devil controls the Territories, making deals with mortals but always trading fairly. At 16, Isobel signs on to become the Devil’s left hand, unseen in the shadows.
Blood Red Road, Moira Young
Genre: dystopian, young adult
Series: Dust Lands Trilogy (complete)
When & Where: post-apocalyptic wasteland
The story: A girl sets out across the wasteland in search of her kidnapped twin brother. Along the way, she meets up with a girl gang of revolutionaries and the daredevil Jack. And finds the strength to take on a corrupt society from the inside. Perfect for fans of Mad Max: Fury Road.
Flash Gold, Lindsay Buroker (2011)
Series: Flash Gold Chronicles
When & Where: Gold Rush era, Yukon territories
The story: Kali enters her steam-powered “dogless sled” in a race, whose prize money will let her escape forever. But fortune seekers and airship pirates want the secret of her father’s alchemy, flash gold.
The Gunslinger, Stephen King (1982)
Genre: horror, Western, fantasy, post-apocalyptic
Series: The Dark Tower (complete, 7 books)
When & Where: Western style fantasy world
The story: Roland Deschain is the Last Gunslinger, on a mysterious quest through a desolate world. Leaving death in his wake, he pursues the man in black, an evil being who can bring the dead back to life.
Karen Memory, Elizabeth Bear
Genre: steampunk, alternate history
When & Where: late 1800s, Seattle
The story: Karen guards the girls at a high class bordello. An injured girl arrives at their door, followed by a man with a mind-control machine. When a body turns up in the trash, it’ll take a lot for the ladies to stay safe.
Alloy of Law, Brandon Sanderson
Genre: epic fantasy, steampunk, magic
Series: Mistborn #4; #1 of followup series
When & Where: fantasy world
The story: 300 years after the Mistborn trilogy, the land is on the cusp of modernity. But Waxillium may not be able to put away his guns just yet. Alloy of Law works as the beginning of its own series, so don’t be afraid to give it a try whether you’ve read Mistborn or not.
Stranger, Rachel Manija Brown & Sherwood Smith
Genre: post-apocalyptic, western, adventure, young adult
Series: The Change
When & Where: future Los Angeles
The story: The area once called Los Angeles retains its cultural diversity, but its technological marvels have faded to legend. A teen prospector arrives with a bounty hunter on his trail and a precious artifact in his pack. Life in the frontier town of Las Anclas will never be the same. My review
Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. This week’s topic is historical settings.