In the early 20th century, a group of hardened criminals plan an elaborate heist of the 5409 – a train carrying a large store of cash meant for the miners of British Columbia. Led by Leland Baxter, the seven men who board the train quickly realize that things are amiss aboard the locomotive. As strange and frightening events overturn their best laid plans, the gang is soon thrust into an unimaginable, otherworldly journey.
“‘Alice in Wonderland is my favorite,’ she told him. ‘My mother gave me this book. I think I read it in two days.’ Nathan’s eyes drooped. ‘What an imagination Mr. Lewis has,’ she said, her voice laced with pleased wonder. ‘I’ve read this book five times since, and every time I wonder if there are places where, if you crawl or step through them, there’s a chance you might find yourself in another place – another world – where everything is very different.’”
The Majestic 311 is trippy and surreal in all the right ways. As soon as the characters board the train, the suspense never lets up, nor do the relentless, uncanny twists and turns. A train that travels through the depths of the ocean; giant crab-like creatures; seven-foot tall, six-breasted, alien figures – the plot of this novel is a survivalist’s odyssey into the vast unknown. Seriously, I can’t even do it justice by mentioning this small handful of oddities that Leland and his crew encounter without the possibility of spoiling the novel.
One of my favorite aspects of Blackmore’s writing is his ability to take loathsome characters (and there are many in this book) and through careful, meticulously paced development, make his readers come to understand and appreciate them. Not only did he do this once again in The Majestic 311, but he also made the characters grow to appreciate each other – a task not easily accomplished amongst a gang of unlawful individuals.
To be quite honest, this is my first experience with a weird western, but it won’t be my last. Likewise, I sure hope that Blackmore has another bizarre tale up his sleeve, because I am ready to experience more!