100 books like Dead Man's Hand

By John Joseph Adams,

Here are 100 books that Dead Man's Hand fans have personally recommended if you like Dead Man's Hand. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Gideon the Ninth

Tim Pratt Author Of Heirs of Grace

From my list on fantasy with women heroines.

Why am I passionate about this?

I've been reading fantasy for 42 years and writing it for 40, and because I was raised by badass women, I've always enjoyed tales of clever, kickass, indomitable heroines. I've written a bunch of them (a dozen books in an urban fantasy series about a sorcerer named Marla Mason; four books in the Axiom space opera series about ship captain Callie Machedo and her love interest, time refugee xenobiologist Elena Oh; contemporary fantasy/romance Heirs of Grace, about an art student who discovers a magical inheritance, and more). I'm also a longtime book reviewer, editor at SF/fantasy trade magazine Locus, and frequent award juror (Bradbury Prize, Philip K. Dick Award, and more), so... I think about SF/fantasy books a lot. 


Tim's book list on fantasy with women heroines

Tim Pratt Why did Tim love this book?

Gideon the Ninth lit up the sky of the science fiction/fantasy world when it was published, launching the Locked Tomb series (which is ongoing, and great; third volume Nona the Ninth is especially lovely).

It's been described as "lesbian necromancers in space" but it's more "lesbian necromancer and swordsperson on various weird planets in the far future with a god-emperor who uses death magic to fight planet-sized spectral monsters...." for a start.

The whole series is enigmatic, complex, and laced through with humor, action, and yearning, but the first book is notable for the power of Gideon's voice.

By Tamsyn Muir,

Why should I read it?

21 authors picked Gideon the Ninth as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

15+ pages of new, original content, including a glossary of terms, in-universe writings, and more!

A USA Today Best-Selling Novel!

"Unlike anything I've ever read. " --V.E. Schwab

"Lesbian necromancers explore a haunted gothic palace in space!" --Charles Stross

"Brilliantly original, messy and weird straight through." --NPR

The Emperor needs necromancers.

The Ninth Necromancer needs a swordswoman.

Gideon has a sword, some dirty magazines, and no more time for undead nonsense.

Tamsyn Muir's Gideon the Ninth, first in The Locked Tomb Trilogy, unveils a solar system of swordplay, cut-throat politics, and lesbian necromancers. Her characters leap off the page, as…


Book cover of The Thousand Crimes of Ming Tsu

Julie Bozza Author Of Writ in Blood

From my list on set in the weird Wild West.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love a good story that crosses genres; seeing where they mesh together, playing with where they differ, and letting the various parts spark into a whole that’s greater still. Though my writing usually takes place in the “real” everyday world, I often introduce supernatural elements. Partly because, while I’m an atheist, I still believe there are more things in the universe and on earth than we yet know. And partly because these elements, whether real or imagined on the part of the character, can act as splendid metaphors – or help to understand a state of mind. 

Julie's book list on set in the weird Wild West

Julie Bozza Why did Julie love this book?

A new Western novel that already feels classic in its ready use of all the key elements of the genre. Interestingly, the eponymous main character is Chinese, proving that our Western heroes and antiheroes are perfectly open to diversity. Intriguing fantasy elements are found in Ming’s Chinese guide, The Prophet, and in the circus performers with whom Ming travels across the harsh Western landscape. A wonderful read! 

By Tom Lin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Thousand Crimes of Ming Tsu as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Orphaned young, Ming Tsu, the son of Chinese immigrants, is raised by the notorious leader of a California crime syndicate, who trains him to be his deadly enforcer. But when Ming falls in love with Ada, the daughter of a powerful railroad magnate, and the two elope, he seizes the opportunity to escape to a different life. Soon after, in a violent raid, the tycoon's henchmen kidnap Ada and conscript Ming into service for the Central Pacific Railroad.
Battered, heartbroken, and yet defiant, Ming partners with a blind clairvoyant known only as the prophet. Together the two set out to…


Book cover of The Buntline Special

Julie Bozza Author Of Writ in Blood

From my list on set in the weird Wild West.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love a good story that crosses genres; seeing where they mesh together, playing with where they differ, and letting the various parts spark into a whole that’s greater still. Though my writing usually takes place in the “real” everyday world, I often introduce supernatural elements. Partly because, while I’m an atheist, I still believe there are more things in the universe and on earth than we yet know. And partly because these elements, whether real or imagined on the part of the character, can act as splendid metaphors – or help to understand a state of mind. 

Julie's book list on set in the weird Wild West

Julie Bozza Why did Julie love this book?

This short novel is heaps of fun! It’s another take on the Tombstone story, told from Doc Holliday’s point of view with great wry wit. This Doc is an engaging and unexpectedly kind character, with little or no hint of his reputed “mean disposition”. Weird elements include steampunk – with Thomas Edison living in Tombstone and bringing not only electric light but cyborg sex workers – as well as an undead Johnny Ringo, and supernatural justice wielded by the Native American shamans. It’s delightful!

By Mike Resnick,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Buntline Special as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Welcome to a West like you've never seen before, where electric lights shine down on the streets of Tombstone, while horseless stagecoaches carry passengers to and fro, and where death is no obstacle to The Thing That Was Once Johnny Ringo. Think you know the story of the O.K. Corral? Think again, as five-time Hugo winner Mike Resnick takes on his first steampunk western tale, and the West will never be the same.


Book cover of The Weird Wild West

Julie Bozza Author Of Writ in Blood

From my list on set in the weird Wild West.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love a good story that crosses genres; seeing where they mesh together, playing with where they differ, and letting the various parts spark into a whole that’s greater still. Though my writing usually takes place in the “real” everyday world, I often introduce supernatural elements. Partly because, while I’m an atheist, I still believe there are more things in the universe and on earth than we yet know. And partly because these elements, whether real or imagined on the part of the character, can act as splendid metaphors – or help to understand a state of mind. 

Julie's book list on set in the weird Wild West

Julie Bozza Why did Julie love this book?

This anthology “blends western grit with the magical and mysterious unknown that waits beyond the next horizon” and includes both a great range of stories and some delightful illustrations. “Abishag Mary” by Frances Rowat brings sea-based imagery deep into the landlocked deserts. “Frank and Earnest” by Tonia Brown features some cracking dialogue, not to mention a villain who seems entirely out of place and mostly baffles the two heroes. Other stories venture beyond the Old West, including "Fifteen Seconds" by Scott Hungerford featuring an alien invasion of a different kind in a more recent West. An excellent collection!

By Faith Hunter, Jonathan Maberry, Gail Z. Martin

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Weird Wild West as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The untamed frontier is a challenge, a test of character, a proving ground for the soul. It's a place where pioneers rewrite their future, or end their days…for better or worse. In the spirit of Bret Maverick, Cat Ballou, Kwai Chang Caine, and James West, The Weird Wild West blends western grit with the magical and mysterious unknown that waits beyond the next horizon.

With thrilling stories by Jonathan Maberry, Gail Z. Martin and Larry N. Martin, John G. Hartness, RS Belcher, Diana Pharaoh Francis, Misty Massey, James R. Tuck, Robert E. Waters, David Sherman, Tonia Brown, Liz Colter, Scott…


Book cover of Weird Westerns: Race, Gender, Genre

Julie Bozza Author Of Writ in Blood

From my list on set in the weird Wild West.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love a good story that crosses genres; seeing where they mesh together, playing with where they differ, and letting the various parts spark into a whole that’s greater still. Though my writing usually takes place in the “real” everyday world, I often introduce supernatural elements. Partly because, while I’m an atheist, I still believe there are more things in the universe and on earth than we yet know. And partly because these elements, whether real or imagined on the part of the character, can act as splendid metaphors – or help to understand a state of mind. 

Julie's book list on set in the weird Wild West

Julie Bozza Why did Julie love this book?

These fourteen essays explore the hybrid “weird west” genre, examining a range of texts including some by Native American authors, as well as TV series, films, fiction, roleplaying games, and comic books. It makes for an interesting read – and is thought-provoking in its conclusion that despite weird westerns challenging and destabilizing many of the old cliches, they have yet to “imagine an existence outside of colonial frameworks”. This has given me much food for thought, as it seems to me that frontiers (wherever found) are an intrinsic part of the western genre, and frontiers tend to imply conflict between the inhabitants and the invaders, between the new and the established. Maybe I’m wrong! In any case, this proves that we still have a long way to go before we’re done exploring all the possibilities of this intriguing genre! 

By Kerry Fine (editor), Michael K. Johnson (editor), Rebecca M. Lush (editor)

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Weird Westerns as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

2021 Top Ten Finalist for the Locus Awards in Nonfiction

Weird Westerns is an exploration of the hybrid western genre-an increasingly popular and visible form that mixes western themes, iconography, settings, and conventions with elements drawn from other genres, such as science fiction, horror, and fantasy. Despite frequent declarations of the western's death, the genre is now defined in part by its zombie-like ability to survive in American popular culture in weird, reanimated, and reassembled forms.

The essays in Weird Westerns analyze a wide range of texts, including those by Native American authors Stephen Graham Jones (Blackfeet) and William Sanders…


Book cover of Widdershins

E.H. Lupton Author Of Dionysus in Wisconsin

From my list on queer historical romances with way too much plot.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a long-time writer who recently published my first two books in a genre I’ll call urban fantasy/queer historical romance. I also co-host a history podcast. It’s made me much more interested in how time and place figure into fiction! I also love a good love story, but after devouring a ton of romance novels, I realized I want a good plot to go along with the googly eyes and tender declarations of eternal devotion.

E.H.'s book list on queer historical romances with way too much plot

E.H. Lupton Why did E.H. love this book?

In this book, we get to watch philologist Percival Endicott Whyborne solve a dark mystery from his past and battle an evil cult in the company of Griffin Flaherty, an ex-Pinkerton turned private detective, and it is delightful.

Widdershins, MA feels like a real place, but also somewhere plucked directly from the pages of H. P. Lovecraft. Whyborne and Griffin’s relationship is sweet and tender. Whyborne’s best friend, Christine Putnam, is a spitfire in the best possible way. The early twentieth century is rendered in loving detail. And there’s a ton of dark humor. What’s not to love?

This is book one in a series of eleven, so you’ll have plenty to sink your teeth into.

By Jordan L. Hawk,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Widdershins as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A reclusive scholar. A private detective. And a book of spells that could destroy the world.Love is dangerous. Ever since the tragic death of the friend he adored, Percival Endicott Whyborne has ruthlessly suppressed any desire for another man. Instead, he spends his days studying dead languages at the museum where he works. So when handsome ex-Pinkerton Griffin Flaherty approaches him to translate a mysterious book, Whyborne wants to finish the job and get rid of the detective as quickly as possible.Griffin left the Pinkertons after the death of his partner. Now in business for himself, he must investigate the…


Book cover of Johannes Cabal the Necromancer

E.M. Epps Author Of A Winter of Fish and Favor

From my list on fantasy books with pragmatic heroes who are still heroic.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a lifelong fantasy reader, but all too often, I find myself grousing at the characters: “Listen! You could solve all your problems with a really confident lie!” Or: “...by revealing the truth in a public campaign before the villain gets you!” Or: “May I suggest a well-placed arrow?” Or: “Is he really the villain? The infrastructure seems pretty sound, and you have no expertise in governance!” Every now and then, I’m delighted to find characters as pragmatic as I am (or as I would be if I were a fantasy hero). These are my favorites.

E.M.'s book list on fantasy books with pragmatic heroes who are still heroic

E.M. Epps Why did E.M. love this book?

I’m not much of a re-reader, yet after I finished the five books in this series, I turned straight back to page one and started over, cackling all the while.

Although Johannes Cabal would be far from charming if you met him, following his adventures is a delight due to Jonathan Howard’s delicious, dry wit. Whether it’s coming out on top in a deal with the Devil, solving a murder on an airship, or surviving a time loop in a Lovecraftian universe, I have confidence that Cabal’s clever mind–and giant revolver–will see him triumph with black humor and grumpiness intact. (The only thing that may be his undoing is his annoyingly charming vampire brother.)

These are some of the funniest fantasies around, and it’s a crying shame how little-known they are.

By Jonathan L. Howard,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Johannes Cabal the Necromancer as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The page-turning first novel in the charmingly gothic, fiendishly funny Faustian series about a brilliant scientist who makes a deal with the Devil, twice. • "The spot-on work of a talented writer." —The Denver Post

Johannes Cabal sold his soul years ago in order to learn the laws of necromancy. Now he wants it back. Amused and slightly bored, Satan proposes a little wager: Johannes has to persuade one hundred people to sign over their souls or he will be damned forever. This time for real. Accepting the bargain, Jonathan is given one calendar year and a traveling carnival to…


Book cover of The Twisted Ones

Tammy Salyer Author Of Gnome on the Range: Otherworld Outlaws 1

From my list on necromancy and communing with cadavers.

Why am I passionate about this?

Being a lifelong fan of fantasy and horror, I've always embraced stories of creepy monsters and vainglorious gods, especially novels that mash-up genres, like Stephen King's Gunslinger, Neil Gaiman's American Gods, and Mary Doria Russell's The Sparrow. But my fascination always circles back to the supernatural, especially sorcerers who raise the dead. After writing my dark fantasy Shackled Verities series, I decided to venture into the Old West with a twist—monsters, magic, and mayhem, featuring, of course, a necromancer gnome. So let me present a spellbinding list of stories about these doers of the dark arts that span genres, from spine-chilling to lighthearted—because who says raising the dead has to be serious?

Tammy's book list on necromancy and communing with cadavers

Tammy Salyer Why did Tammy love this book?

T. Kingfisher could write stereo instructions and I’d read them. Her prose is straightforward and absolutely refreshing, but she does creepy in ways that will make you keep your lights on at night.

While The Twisted Ones isn’t the typical necromancer story, there’s some raising-the-dead shenanigans in it that will make your skin crawl—and also maybe pull on your heartstrings a little. In this novel, a young woman discovers dark secrets in her recently-deceased grandmother’s rural home that shed new and horrific light on what might have really happened to her dead loved ones.

Focusing more on psychological scares than action, Kingfisher imbues her characters with a surprising amount of empathy amidst the creeping unease. And once you’ve finished The Twisted Ones, like me, you won’t be able to stop yourself from buying her whole marvelous oeuvre.

By T Kingfisher,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Twisted Ones as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When Mouse's dad asks her to clean out her dead grandmother's house, she says yes. After all, how bad could it be?

Answer: pretty bad. Grandma was a hoarder, and her house is stuffed with useless rubbish. That would be horrific enough, but there's more-Mouse stumbles across her step-grandfather's journal, which at first seems to be filled with nonsensical rants...until Mouse encounters some of the terrifying things he described for herself.

Alone in the woods with her dog, Mouse finds herself face to face with a series of impossible terrors-because sometimes the things that go bump in the night are…


Book cover of The Homesman

R.J. McCarthy Author Of Wat Haggard and Prairie Wren

From my list on imperfect heroes redeemed.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was never a fan of superheroes, not even as a child. My heroes had to be credible, human, acceptably flawed yet redeemable by a personal moral code that ultimately defined their actions. The heroes in my favorite books are of this ilk, determined to pursue the right thing, regardless of how life challenges them. It speaks to how I’ve tried to live my life–and still do.

R.J.'s book list on imperfect heroes redeemed

R.J. McCarthy Why did R.J. love this book?

An atypical Western, I loved its unusual, yet believable plot.

A drifter, George Briggs, is hired to bring four women, maddened by the bleakness of the Nebraska plains, east to civilizational care.

Briggs fulfills his contract, guiding them through the threat of Indian attacks and other challenges to safety. A feeling pervaded the story that Briggs had been given one shot at elevating himself above an otherwise unremarkable life and he came through. This is a feature that I love in almost any story–the idea of redemption.

I love to believe that potential exists within me.

By Glendon Swarthout,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Homesman as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Homesman opens in the 1850s, when early pioneers are doing anything they can to survive dreadful conditions. Women especially struggle with broken hearts and minds as they face bitter hardships: One nineteen-year-old mother loses her three children to diphtheria in three days; another woman left alone for two nights is forced to shoot wolves to protect herself. The situation calls for a "homesman"-a person charged with taking these women, driven mad by the conditions of rural life, to asylums in the East. Not exactly a job people are lining up for, it falls to Mary Bee Cuddy, an ex-teacher…


Book cover of Lonesome Dove

Lee Goldberg Author Of Calico

From my list on humor that makes us human.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been writing crime stories since I was a child. They entertained me and helped me cope with a lot of family strife. My first novel was published in college and sold to the movies, which got me into screenwriting, leading to writing hundreds of hours of TV and fifty novels to date. The one thing all of my stories share is humor because I believe it’s an essential part of life–and of memorable story-telling. Humor makes characters come alive, revealing shades of personality and depths of emotion you wouldn’t otherwise see. Here are five books that taught me that it’s true and that continue to influence me as a writer. 

Lee's book list on humor that makes us human

Lee Goldberg Why did Lee love this book?

This is my favorite book of all time, by far. It’s a sprawling, epic Western for people who don’t like Westerns. But that’s just one of the many things it does brilliantly.

McMurtry was the master at finding humor in every character, no matter how loathsome or pitiful, and in every situation, no matter how heart-breaking or violent, without sacrificing or undercutting anything for a laugh. He makes the humor seem as natural as breathing, crying, or bleeding, which is a vital coping mechanism for dealing with life…it certainly is in my own.

But McMurtry taught me how to incorporate that into my storytelling and how important humor is in humanizing characters. It’s how he got me to emotionally invest in his characters and almost believe they are real. Perhaps that’s why this novel is the only one I have re-read multiple times in my life that I still wish…

By Larry McMurtry,

Why should I read it?

13 authors picked Lonesome Dove as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Larry McMurtry's Pulitzer Prize winning novel is a powerful, triumphant portrayal of the American West as it really was. From Texas to Montana, it follows cowboys on a grueling cattle drive through the wilderness.

It begins in the office of The Hat Creek Cattle Company of the Rio Grande.
It ends as a journey into the heart of every adventurer who ever lived . . .

More than a love story, more than an adventure, Lonesome Dove is an epic: a monumental novel which embraces the spirit of the last defiant wilderness of America.

Legend and fact, heroes and outlaws,…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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