In Tyler Enfield’s LIKE RUM-DRUNK ANGELS, a boy goes on a journey across the Old West to seek his fortune and win the girl of his dreams. Guided by his heart and the utter confidence it gives him, he becomes an outlaw, possibly guided by an ancient spirit that will give him what he desires but only if he truly grows up and earns it. I really enjoyed this book, it was quite an experience.
I used to be a very eclectic reader, though I leaned on offbeat sci-fi as a preference. When my writing career started to take off, though, something weird happened, which is I found myself constantly reading books in the same genre as I was writing in. Back when I was writing zombie books, for example, I read one zombie book after another, and when I switched to writing WW2 and horror–you can guess what happened then. Reading in the stable, so to speak, kept me in the mood, and I found it useful to see how other authors handled topics I was tackling both for inspiration and to ensure I was carving my own path through similar ground. Very useful, for sure, though also a bit of a curse, as I missed reading whatever I wanted.
Then recently, I was between writing books, and the curse lifted, at least for a time. I started to grab books off the shelf for the sole fact they looked interesting. Ending up in the Western section (the horror shelves at my local big box have shrunk so much it’s easy to move right past it and find myself facing Westerns), I figured I’d give one a read, as I’d read Westerns in the past and benefited from the experience. One book leaped out at me for its jaunty cover and title: LIKE RUM-DRUNK ANGELS.
Written by Tyler Enfield, who turns out is a neighbor of mine, living in a city in the same province a few hours north of me, it proved a quirky, fast moving, charming, and overall good fun read. The plot is a basic hero’s quest with allusions to ALADDIN, set in the West with its familiar tropes but with a few magical elements thrown in, adding a touch of fantasy to it. The voice is poetic but quick, with short chapters. The characters are all likeable, especially our protagonist Francis, who is brash and charming. The overall tone is offbeat, drawing comparisons to the Coen Brothers and Thomas Berger’s LITTLE BIG MAN. While a strength for me, this latter aspect of the book might turn off some readers looking for a traditional Western, as this ain’t 100% that.
Overall, I had a lot of fun with this one and recommend it for readers looking for something different, a Western with a likeable protagonist, an overall quirky tone, and a tale that feels traditional and modern, hinting throughout at far bigger themes.