Weird West for fans of The Dark Tower
It's pretty much an exercise in hubris to attempt a readalike list for Stephen King's massive Dark Tower series - eight novels (plus a children's picture book); an interdimensional genre-blend that fuses SF, dark fantasy, horror, and Western elements into a sprawling epic adventure tale.
But, gee, it's fun to try!
For all its varied adventures, the one constant, striking mental image from the series (for me anyway), is that of The Gunslinger standing alone in the middle of a ruined landscape. (And now that there's a movie within reach, I have a more specific mental image in mind, and let's be honest - Idris Elba standing anywhere is pretty darn striking) With that in mind, this is probably more accurately defined as a Weird West list - books that combine Western, horror, and SFF themes in an exciting way - than a true readalike list for The Dark Tower, but I've confined my suggestions to multivolume Weird West selections with a dark, generally apocalyptic tone.
Have gun, will travel. Will likely encounter demons.
Kenneth Mark Hoover
A noir-heavy but overall very "classic" western despite its supernatural glimmers featuring an immortal lawman administering justice across multiple worlds and times, going where he is called on a never-ending pursuit to thwart evil and restore order to the universe. A prequel, Quaternity, and several short stories are also set in this world.
1 / 11
This selection is an outlier both for being a standalone novel and for being one of the few that isn't really Weird West. Nonetheless, its post-apocalyptic setting, supernatural obstacles, Wild West-ish stance on vengeance and survival, and its harrowing epic road trip across a blighted America really brought The Dark Tower to my mind. Come for the apocalypse, stay for the clockwork owl.
2 / 11
Arianne 'Tex' Thompson
First in a trilogy, this series opener's setting is decidedly, recognizably Western, complete with horse trading, gunslingers, and racism, but when the sun goes down on a borderland town, that's when the shapeshifters and demigods come out to play. Paul Kearney's blurb invokes The Dark Tower AND Cormac McCarthy, bringing peanut butter to my chocolate.
3 / 11
R. S. Belcher
Another first-in-trilogy (F.I.T.), this is more dark fantasy than true horror; a pre-apocalypse story in which a frontier town’s quirky citizens, all of whom have firsthand familiarity with various supernatural phenomena, face the onslaught of the ultimate ancient evil which, unless defeated, will end the world.
4 / 11
F.I.T. The town of Wormwood, with its door to Heaven, appears in a new location every 100 years. In 1889, a cast resembling a Steampunk/Weird West Village People will try to reach it: gunslinger, preacher, inventor, brain-damaged Messiah, blind sharpshooter, monks, and freakshow performers. Dangers will include: gunfights, blizzards, creatures both biological and mechanical, desperadoes, and a truly carnivorous town.
5 / 11
I’m not sure what urban fantasy is called when it has all the correct attributes but isn’t actually set in an urban environment, but this book is definitely that genre. A whiskey-swilling bounty hunter and her husband whose specialty is hunting paranormal creatures do just that in an alt-history Wild West. First of two books.
6 / 11
Standalone Western Horror from a prolific and criminally-underknown author who excels in writing monsters and splatter in a way that doesn’t make you roll your eyes. Here, he combines the real-world violence of the traditional Western with the horror-realm violence of monster hunting to gritty, bloody perfection.
7 / 11
Another F.I.T. ('tho tied to earlier books), another post-apoc Western featuring a lone gunslinger on his solitary quest, with plenty of shooting to accomplish in the name of justice. This one also has a Biblical slant; the apocalypse here was a great flood, and our lone warrior is known as The Jerusalem Man, seeking that lost promised land to make it his home, fighting Satanists and quoting Scripture along the way.
8 / 11
F.I.T., this is a mishmash of seemingly incompatible genres: alt-history Western, steampunk and M/M erotica, where the mythology of ancient Mesoamerican civilizations is seasoned with violence and magic and sex in a surreal adventure starring Pinkertons, magicians, gods and monsters.
9 / 11
Edward M. Erdelac
A long-running series of thirteen novellas and one novel-length conclusion (this volume contains four ‘episodes’) that stand alone but also progress a larger overarching storyline blending elements of the traditional Western, steampunk, Lovecraftian horror, and Jewish Mysticism in the story of The Rider and his mystical/supernatural adventures as he pursues his biggest foe and former teacher with revenge on his mind.
10 / 11
And if these don't do it for you, you can always go back and read/reread the entire 8-book series, the concordances, the graphic novels, the picture book, and what I'm betting is a wealth of fanfiction scattered across the World Wide Web.
11 / 11