Genre: Fantasy, Supernatural, Gothic Western
Publisher: Angry Robot Books
After his well-received debut novel, Dr. Potter’s Medicine Show Fischl has returned to the world he created. Set in Butte Montana in the early part of the 20th century the reader is introduced to Solomon Parker, a miner. Parker is a wreck of a man. Deep in debt to the vicious Sean Harrity and plagued by memories of dead mining comrades he moves through life as if in a daze. Every decision that he makes in order to better his status in life ends up doing the opposite, and those around him inevitably pay the price. But there is something waiting for Parker around the corner. Something that he did not expect and it might just change the trajectory of his miserable life.
Similar to his debut novel Eric Scott Fischl invites the reader to follow the lives of some very broken people. It was what endeared that book to the public. It is the strength of the follow up as well. Solomon Parker is the perennial down on his luck character. Like so many others in the book he mostly has himself to blame. Part the victim of circumstance, but also his own vices. The other figures the reader is introduced to suffer in most the same way, only that they react in different fashion. Fischl is a master at weaved a tangled web of misery and alienation in a cold and unforgiving world. It feels as colorless and gray as the cover of the book. Like Dr. Potter this story comes with a dose of the supernatural, this time represented by gods and their servant Marked Face.The tale is told from multiple perspectives, not only Parker’s own. The reader gets to hear the voice of several cast members and that is nice. Fischl moves effortlessly between them, giving each of them a distinct voice and worldview. It adds to the already monochrome and bleak world that they are placed in. Happiness seems to be just out of reach for them.
With The Trials of Solomon Parker Fischl firmly cements himself as the premier writer of the Gothic Western, equal parts Lovecraft and Cooper.
-C. Marry Hultman