Cold West begins as a story of loss and resolve. A weird west story set within a dying wasteland, full of the ruthless and the uncanny. A world where magic births chaos. Clayton Snyder’s Cold West fires on all cylinders.
As a former bounty hunter, Wil Cutter paved his legacy by blood. He was the unrelenting. A professional killer. When he met Ginny, he buried his past. He traded his guns for a plow and a family. And then Ginny died. His farm failing and having no cash to feed his two boys, Wil is left with little choice but to take another contract. There is a path and his family. He’ll destroy all else. He’ll learn he never should have returned to the fold.
“What will they say about me when I’m gone, then? Not much, likely. He was a bastard and a liar. A rotten thief. A killer. But mostly I was fed up. And a fed-up man’s got a lot of moral leeway.”
While action-packed, Cold West is about Wil’s inner journey. We are given flashbacks of Wil and Ginny’s courtship. Ginny’s love had saved him. Now her death threatens to corrupt him beyond salvation.
However, Clayton Snyder doesn’t confine Cold West to a tragic love story. Wil Cutter’s quiet reflection on his life and his cruel justifications for his actions are harrowing. His perspective is damning but offers an intelligent perception about his world.
“I’d never been a good man, so when Ginny’d come along, I’d tried all that much harder to be. Lesser concerns didn’t trouble me on that path. Things like others standing in the way. Though, that had never been the heaviest weight on my shoulders.”
The Waste in Cold West harbors strange magic. Wil Cutter is a Null, someone who can create tunnels through the Empyrean and open gates to other dimensions. This magic reminds me as a cross between The Misery from The Raven’s Mark and the Warrens in Malazan.
Weird West is one of my favorite subgenres. Given this subgenre’s hybrid nature, no two stories are very similar. Everything from HBO’s West World to Mad Max, Papa Lucy and the Boneman to The Songs of Sefate, they all spin their own unique take on western stories. I love seeing the typical West landscape transform into extraordinary nightmare. Cold West is a tribute to fantastical worldbuilding.
Cold West is an action-packed fusion of horror, dark fantasy, and the wild west. The waste territory in Clayton Snyder’s novel is delightfully hellish. His characters equally so. I hope Clayton Snyder returns to this world.