A white horse morphing out of a treeI was a little skeptical when I heard that Emma Bull’s new book was a western. Not only a western, but a historical western set in Tombstone, Arizona at the time of the gunfight at the O.K. Corral. But while skeptical, I couldn’t really help assuming that she would win me over, and in that I was right.

The book centers on two fictional characters who are peripheral to the feud between the Earps and the MacLaurys and Clantons. One is Mildred Benjamin, a widow working as a typesetter in one of the town papers. The other is Jesse Fox, a stranger who comes to town in the first chapter. But while the events are seen through the lens of these two’s perceptions, the main players in the historical drama are featured players as well, especially the enigmatic Doc Holliday.

This is a fantasy novel, though, and that aspect comes in as a kind of secret history where magic is at work in Tombstone, adding another layer to the things that happen there.

I don’t want to say too much about the book, but I will tell you one thing that I was glad to have known before I read it. There’s a second part to this story. The book isn’t a cliffhanger exactly, but it does leave a great number of things unexplained. In my view, this is cause for celebration, not lamentation. I have been heard to proclaim a few times since finishing this book, “I want to read the second half of Territory!” I’m really looking forward to finding out what happens to these characters in the concluding volume.