Book Review: "Warlock" by Oakley Hill
5/5 - a very different experience of literature...
When I read something about crime and history, I like there to be a good amount of story and backstory to flesh out. Books such as The Devil in the White City and The Killers of the Flower Moon are great for doing this, but if we go even further back in history, there is a lot of concentration on the actual crimes in almost a visual way. This is primarily because the crimes cannot be as easily accessed since they are so far in the past. I would like to hail this book entitled Warlock by Oakley Hill for its ability to not only provide the reader with a great visual crime story, but also backstory and atmosphere in which we can vividly image what is happening. The story is long, and often at times it can get a bit confusing - but making it through this book has been a great experience because normally, this is not a book I would pick up at all.
The book is named after the town in which the novel is set. Warlock is being threatened with constant violence and has wanted to do something about it for a while. They get a committe together to help them out with the ongoing crisis of criminals - who are also cowboys. Clay Blaisedell is hired as the man who is trying to keep the peace in Warlock, his friend who nobody seems to like very much - Tom Morgan and the former prostitute who has now turned into a vigilante against crime - Kate Dollar.
A man called Abe McQuown and his gang are attempting to bring these three people down by constantly giving them a hard time. Whilst one of Abe McQuown's friends has turned towards deputyship in order to clean up his lifestyle. This discovery completely unsetlles the dynamic resulting in trust issues from both sides and a higher level of threat than that of anyone in the town having seen before. The tension is definitely heightening at this point and it is an excellent place to take a pause about how the story has actually gone so far.
When people begin being banned from the city, it will take all of the nerve of the man in charge not to do something drastic when the backlash happens against him. And it will be some seriously harsh backlash which may ultimately end up as a threat on his life.
A fictional tale based on things that were probably going on in the 1880s on the frontier, Oakley Hall writes a consistently gripping story about the rise of the people against savage threat, seemingly an extended metaphor for the American Civil War and the fact that the North won. Set in Tombstone, Arizona it was said to be loosely based on actual events, whereas I think that means it was inspired by a subculture of cowboy criminals, not actually based on one or two events that actually took place.
In conclusion, I felt like this book was an incredibly different experience for me. I hardly ever pick up cowboy fiction/semi-fiction but whenever I do again, I certainly want it to be just like this experience. It was something deep and meaningful, something where I got to understand what kind of threats there were and why certain people, sometimes had to act so irrationally. The book sets itself up as a cross between a crime and a tragedy with many very intense sections to brood over, but ultimately it is a part of cultural history in which events happened just like this one - all over the place.