Winner, Spur Award for Best Traditional Novel
One of CBC Day 6 "books to gift this season"
Francis Blackstone is a fourteen-year-old gunslinger with a heart of gold.
He’s fallen for the mayor’s daughter and resolves to make his mark, and his fortune, to win her favour. And what better way than to rob a Manhattan Company bank? Enter Bob Temple, the volatile outlaw who takes Francis under his wing— though not without a degree of suspicion— and so begins the adventures of the Blackstone Temple Gang as they crisscross the west in search of treasure, redemption, and the possibility of requited love.
After an encounter with a rival gang, Francis and Bob Temple are chased over the Sierras to California, where they enjoy unexpected fame as gentleman bandits. But their newfound celebrity brings hardships as well, and when their final job takes a startling turn, Francis is forced to discover what it means to make peace with a world that stands against him.
At once a tribute to boyhood enthusiasm and the heroes of classical quests, Like Rum-Drunk Angels is an offbeat, slightly magical, entirely original retelling of Aladdin as an American western.
"Like Rum-Drunk Angels wrings a variation on the American Western which is entirely unique — saucy, funny, warm, tender, unbridled. It’s a breakneck gallop of a book, as fine a novel as I have read in a long time. "
— Wayne Johnston
"Employing traits from the playbooks of both the Coen Brothers and Walt Disney, this Western stars 14-year-old gunslinger Francis Blackstone on a journey to make his fortune and win a young lady’s heart. A buddy-novel with bandits, bank robbing and adventure a-plenty. "
"A surreal, often hilarious fracturing of traditional western tropes, imbuing classic elements with a spirited post-modern awareness. . .. Like Rum-Drunk Angels is a hoot, with a tender heart at its core. "
"A magical, fun novel about Francis Blackstone setting out to seek his fortune. It has all the elements of a good western, but Enfield also gives a nod to Arabian Nights, William Goldman’s Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying. "
"Tyler Enfield opens a treasure chest of familiar Western tropes, turns them upside down and inside out, and makes them dance. Funny, absurd, wildly inventive, and then — just as you’re least prepared for it — deeply moving. Magic. "
— Ian Weir
"Add Enfield’s landscape portraiture to his dry, unskippable dialogue, and you’ve got the bones of a Western. . .. As the dynamite runs low, the story becomes a more solemn affair through the last quarter. . .. This transition, from fun to serious, is done with such subtlety that it wasn’t until I finished that I realized how well Enfield had pulled off that shift in tone. "
— Aaron Williams
"A wildly funny, wildly entertaining western. It made me laugh. It made me cry. Buy it for the person that you bought Patrick DeWitt’s The Sisters Brothers nine years ago. "
— Becky Toyne
"It’s a smart and funny reimagining of a beloved-and-timeworn-but-still-bucking genre. "
— Marcie McCauley
"More complex than a simple western outlaw gang horse opera. . .. There is plenty of humour and the whole year-long escapade takes on a dream-like aspect as in the anything-can-happen, even the impossible — which does. "
— James M. Fisher
"With a yarn like this, you don’t always know what you’re hearing, where it’s coming from, and certainly not what it means, but there’s little you’d rather do than sit on your horse and listen for a while. "
— Kyle Wyatt
"Beautifully cinematic, with surprising story breaks that create a long-lasting controlled suspense. "
"Like Rum-Drunk Angels turns the historically mundane into the psychedelically evocative, and the far less mundane into something even more grandiose. "
— Charlotte Simmons
"A truly mesmerizing work. "
— Steven Sandor
"A fabulist feast. . .. Cormac McCarthy meets Gabriel Garcia Marquez. "
— Bob Armstrong