Friday, April 25, 2014
The Adventures of Don Valiente and the Apache Canyon Kid by John A. Aragon & Mary W. Walters
Today we revisit the old west as it never was, or as it may once have been in the cinematic universe. The Adventures of Don Valiente and the Apache Canyon Kid by indie authors John A. Aragon & Mary W. Walters is a bold, romantic journey into New Mexico, ca. 1922.
The West will never be the same . . . .
New Mexico, 1922.
The orphaned eighteen-year-old stablehand Rosalind Grundy is seduced by a married woman, and faces a lynching after the pair is surprised in flagrante delicto. But she manages to escape with the aid of a strange and aristocratic old man who calls himself Don Valiente.
Don Valiente, having read too many dime westerns, has come to believe that he is a famous gunfighter. He thinks Roz is a young man named Ross, and he takes her under his wing, intending to teach her and to revive "The Code Of The Caballeros."
Don Valiente and Roz embark on a series of comic adventures. But when they come upon a grisly murder scene and the trail of three escaped-convict killers, Roz realizes that her only chance to survive the imminent showdown and to reunite with her true love lies in her ability to separate Don Valiente's madness from the eternal truths in his teaching.
“The western dime novel meets Don Quixote and goes digital in this mash-up of hair-raising tales. It’s a bold and sexy chase from end to end.” — Fred Stenson, author of The Trade, Lightning, and The Great Karoo
Let me just say I fell in love with Don Valiente the moment he began speaking! He is wild, wise and completely committed to living The Code of the Caballeros. In one very moving scene, after Roz has been forced to kill a man, she sheds tears for her vanquished foe, wondering why he had to go and put himself in the position where she had to shoot him in self-defense. Don Valiente tells her that the path of the Caballero is full of compassion for the misguided souls he must usher into the next world. "Do you not think that the executioner does not recognise that even those who must pay for their bad deeds with their lives are also human beings, like him, who live, love, and know the beauty of creation?"
The wisdom Don Valiente imparts to Roz over the course of the tale is beautiful and moving. His spirituality is deep and is such a part of him that he has an enormous influence on his young apprentice. I myself have taken much of it to heart! His truths are universal, and as she begins to understand what he is trying to teach her, Roz begins to know who she is, and to be comfortable in her own skin.
Roz is young, beautifully human and is just a girl who is caught up in something that is so much larger than she is. Her motives are simple and honest. In reading this book, I felt every one of of Roz's trials and sorrows as if they were my own. She's an unlikely hero, but she is the sort of hero that made the legends of the old west come to life.
The bad-guys are awesome, in part because they aren't all men. Leta, Kruger and the Beast have few redeeming qualities, and they are quite frightening. I never knew what they would do next. They are as nasty and evil as any villains I've ever met.
This tale has everything--Romance, danger, spirituality and great well-drawn characters, both good and bad, that leap off the page. The scenery is gorgeous and the atmosphere is moody and mysterious. I liked this book so much I bought the paperback as well as the Kindle version.
I have read everything both Mary W. Walters and John A. Aragon have written in their separate careers, and think their considerable skills are magnified in this tale of good and evil. The story haunted my dreams the night I finished reading it, and that is the mark of an awesome book!