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Reviewed by Lit Amri for Readers' Favorite
Edward M. Erdelac's novel Merkabah Rider: Tales of a High Planes Drifter is a novella collection. It consists of four connected stories where the Rider, a Hasidic Jewish mystic who becomes a gunslinger, is involved in a series of heinous crimes laden with the supernatural.
Readers are introduced to the Rider and his world in The Blood Libel, where a child's kidnapping in a town serves as a catalyst to other crimes. In the second tale, The Dust Devils, we learn that the Rider is still mortal when he arrives at another town and has to face a powerful sorcerer. In the third tale, Hell's Hired Gun, and the final one, The Nightjar Women, the Rider’s past is revealed, and we learn about his mission and motivation. Although it has a traditional Western gunslinger element, the supernatural aspect makes Merkabah Rider: Tales of a High Planes Drifter more entertaining and appealing to me. The Rider is an enigmatic protagonist and I gravitated towards him rather quickly. There is also a subtle religious side to this collection as a whole.
Surprisingly, I don’t find the combination of Western and Jewish elements weird. In fact, I find it quite apt and perhaps only Edward M. Erdelac can pull it off. His writing style is highly descriptive and he portrayed the old West vividly. His characters, especially the protagonist, have depth and sharp, well-written dialogue. All in all, a refreshing and solid read of old Western stories with a twist. Readers that want to read something a bit out of the ordinary - this might be the material for you.