Off the Shelf: Weird Westerns

Posted August 17, 2021

By Darci Stitt
Adult Services Librarian with the Warren-Trumbull County Public Library

Do you think you know Westerns? Think again!

One of the jobs of the Adult Services Librarians here at the Warren-Trumbull County Public Library is to create bibliographies or lists of books and other items on specific subjects. You can find examples of our bibliographies in displays on the end of stacks and other places around the library. If you are looking for books in a certain genre, we might have a list for you. Just ask us and we’ll check. One of my favorite bibliographies is about Weird Westerns.

Westerns are stories set in the West and typically have gunslingers, surviving nature, conflicts…the usual. What could be weird? Weird Westerns combine the usual elements of Westerns with some other genre for a new, or ‘weird’, twist without losing all the beloved traits of a Western. Genre crosses include Horror, Fantasy, or Science Fiction.

Try a Weird Western listed here or find more titles in our Weird Western bibliography.

Nine of Stars by Laura Bickle is an Urban Fantasy/Western cross with likeable characters and an action-packed, plot driven story line. If you like stories with alchemy, folklore, and Native American aspects of Westerns check out this book set in a wintry landscape with a female geologist leading character. If you enjoy it, the series continues in two more books.
Outlaws and misfits facing the aftermath of war, crossing badlands for a better future…oh so typically Western, except this time it is the robots who have eliminated all humans and still manage to mess up their “advanced civilization”. A Sea of Rust by Robert C. Cargill pairs action-packed western elements and a rise-of-the-machines sci-fi into one Weird Western.
Andy Davidson’s Weird Western crosses Horror and a modern Western into a compelling and stylistically complex tale of blood thirst and psychological suspense. Try In the Valley of the Sun for a haunting novel set in modern Texas including a Texas Ranger who has no idea what he’s trailing.
The Hunger by Alma Katsu puts a supernatural twist on the Donner Party story to create a Horror/Western hybrid with a creepy atmosphere and intricate plot for exploring themes of witchcraft and the occult.
Emily Martin does some western-like world-building in Sunshield, a fast-paced gallop through deserts rife with kidnapping and a society built on slavery where Outlaw Lark, the Sunshield Bandit, frees captives and fights to protect her rescuees from the harsh world they live in.