Tales of Western Superstition
“Weird West” is a subgenre that combines elements of the Western with another literary genre such as fantasy or horror.
One of the earliest known superstition and supernatural menaces injected into a Western setting is “The Horror from the Mound” by Robert E. Howard. It appeared in the Weird Tales pulp magazine in 1932. It concerns a former cowboy, Steve Brill, who notices an old Mexican laborer, Juan Lopez, avoiding a mound on his property. But there is a secret held inside and the very few who know about it have been sworn to secrecy.
Shadows from Boothill is the only known western fantasy by L. Ron Hubbard, published in the Wild West Weekly magazine in 1940. This is the tale of outlaw Brazos who races to take a “hit job” from Whisper Monahan. But things soon take a supernatural spin when Brazos acquires a second shadow after killing a witch doctor, who with his last breath, swears a deadly curse upon his soul.
In a note to the editor, the author wrote: “Hope your readers like Shadows from Boot Hill. The Old West was superstitious in the extreme and … reeks with more fantasy than The Arabian Nights.”
More recently in 2007, Emma Bull wrote and published Territory, set in the vicinity of Tombstone, Arizona, in 1881. In this novel, fantasy is mixed with Old West lore, reworking the western legend of Wyatt Earp, his brothers and Doc Holliday with supernatural forces and dark magic that manipulates people.