Book Reviews

After the Wind (Once Upon a Time in the Weird West) by Tali Spencer at Dreamspinner Press

Genre Gay / Post-Apocalyptic / Superpowers / Romance
Reviewed by Lena Grey on 09-June-2018

Book Blurb

Plagued by drought and raids from hostile Comanches, the West Texas frontier is a hell of a place to carve out a living. Twenty years ago, a mysterious disaster devastated the Llano Estacado and cursed the survivors with supernatural abilities over Fire, Air, Water, and Earth. The Anglo government promptly outlawed these powers—and they’re willing to pay good money to anyone who turns over an elemental, dead or alive.

When rancher Micah Dawes desperately needs water for his herd, he strikes a deal with two unsavory bounty hunters for the services of a chained, blue-haired water elemental named Rain. Micah pities Rain, but he has to play his cards close to his chest—because Micah, too, survived the Wind, and the reason he always wears a hat is to hide his glowing red hair….

Book Review

Twenty years ago, a windstorm devastated a huge area of the country, killing all humans and animals except for the children. However, those who were left became substance, individuals who have the ability to influence the elements; fire, water, earth, and air. Unfortunately, because they were different, “normal” people feared them and made laws requiring them to be killed on sight and turned in to the government in order to receive credit and be paid a bounty. Some of the elementals are fortunate enough to have found refuge and have learned to survive in the harsh environment, although they constantly live in fear of being caught, like Micah Dawes, who is a fire elemental.

Micah hates the idea of dealing with the lowlifes he's dealing with at present, but he needs water desperately and they claim to have someone who can find it. The man is a dowser, he can find water because he's a water elemental named Rain. Micah detests the way Rain is being treated so inhumanely, in rags, skinny, and dirty. It's all Micah can do to hold in his fire and not burn them to a crisp on the spot then take Rain away, but he doesn't want to cause any trouble for him or his other elemental friends. Micah makes a deal with them for Rain to find a water source on his ranch.

The next morning, Micah meets the bad guys, Charlie and Sam, along with Rain who begins his search. They look for a while with no luck, so they camp for the night. While Charlie goes off to water the horses, Micah takes the opportunity to find out more about Rain. The more Rain tells him about the abuse he's undergoing, the more Micah wants to hold him and wipe all his pain away. When they reach the spot where Rain indicates water exists, they make Micah start digging. In a while, Sam comes over to help him, which Micah finds highly unusual. Then Micah hears a commotion and goes to investigate. When Micah sees that Charlie is attempting to assault Rain, it makes him realize that he can't hold back any longer. Regardless of the risk of exposure, Micah has to save Rain.

Tali has done a wonderful job of worldbuilding with characters who have unimaginable power, being persecuted by the law out of fear; while others learn to hide their true identities to evade detection. They have created a life for themselves, despite all the trauma. Thanks, Tali, for an original, engaging story.





DISCLAIMER: Books reviewed on this site were usually provided at no cost by the publisher or author. The anthology this short story was published in has been provided by Dreamspinner Press for the purpose of a review.

Additional Information

Format ebook and print
Length Short Story, 26 pages
Heat Level
Publication Date 16-December-2016
Price $6.99 ebook, $17.99 paperback, $17.99 bundle
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