Monday, September 12, 2011
The Ghosts of Watt O'Hugh by Steven S. Drachman
Watt O’Hugh III is a self-made man, Civil War vet, Time Roamer, former orphan of the New York slums and dime novel hero of the lost, magical West of the 1870s. When O’Hugh returns to New York as the star of a Wild West show, he thinks his ship has come in. But that’s before he wakes up in a Wyoming penitentiary facing a murder charge, a corrupt Wall Street banker turned outlaw and a 2000-year-old Chinese mystery that could change the world forever.
All he really wants is to woo Lucy Billings again, the woman he loved and lost in a gilded New York City before the War ….
Dragons, women of the dark arts, a Chinese emperor, ghosts, time Roaming Western gunmen, a chase on horseback through 1874 New York City, J.P. Morgan, Oscar Wilde, shootouts in Nebraska and Manhattan's Great Roman Hippodrome theater. What other novel promises more?
This book refuses to be labeled. It begins a memoir, turns into a Western with some flashy fantasy heels, then becomes an action and adventure novel, followed closely by a time-traveling extravaganza.
I knew I was going to like it from the first page. How? Because the narrator has a fresh, unique voice that captures the reader’s attention from the very beginning. This is not as easy to do as it might seem. Watt is charmingly sarcastic, with wit enough to send the reader laughing.
The plot itself is a bit complicated, but it tends to hold itself together well. The time travelling was handled carefully, with the author not allowing his Roamers to change any events during their travels. A wise choice, since otherwise the novel would resolve itself without much trouble. The love story which is at the book’s center, I think could have been built up a tad bit more. I didn’t get a real sense of the love Watt and Lucy held for each other, which makes many actions on Watt’s part not as coherent as I’d like.
There are many action scenes that really leave the reader breathless, the pacing is wonderful. The writing itself is comfortable, not ostentatious but clear and to the point.
This was a very fun book, and I can recommend it to all of those who like to read “different” books.