Title: The Temptation of Eustace Prudence McAllen
Author: Jay Lake
In: Westward Weird (Martin H. Greenberg & Kerrie Hughes)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Demons, Weird western, Westerns
Dates read: 16th June 2020
Format: Short story
Publisher: Daw Books
5th sentence, 74th page: His shout smoked the air blue and called dark clouds into swirling overhead.
Eustace Prudence McAllen is being blamed for the fires being set in his town. So he goes on a ride to find out what is starting the fires in Hell’s Kitchen….
I really liked the way that this story was told more in the traditional oral style. It was like a conversation with the narrator. Even including some not-so-veiled insults throughout for interrupting the flow of narration. It was really quite clever, and whilst not out and out hilarious, it was quite entertaining. And left me smiling throughout.
This story combines fires, the devil and cattle. Cattle rustling and cattle farming. It had all the elements of what I picture when I think Western… but included with that is also Lucifer and the problems that a conversation with The Devil come with. Actually, throughout this whole story, all I could think about was stories of deals at crossroads and the song The Devil Went Down to Georgia. There was just this great, hauntingly familiar feel to the story line. One that felt a little like coming home.
This wasn’t a hilarious short story. But it was an entertaining and slightly funny one. Mostly through the voice of the narrator – the narrator added an extra sense of flair and humour to the story line that I really wasn’t expecting. And honestly, I just really enjoyed this unique take on a Western story.