Overall rating: 4/5
Readability rating: 5/5
Character rating: 4/5
Plot rating: 4/5
Cover rating: 4/5
Would I recommend: Yes. It’s an easy read and great opener for a series. Mix of fantasy and alternative reality.
Goodread Genres: Fantasy, Western, Paranormal, Alt History
Perfect for: People who love fantasy and things being turn on their heads. It’s not a standard Western and more of a fun fantasy story.
Book Synopsis: “Set in a fractured United States, in the southwestern country now known as Texoma. A world where magic is acknowledged but mistrusted, especially by a young gunslinger named Lizbeth Rose. Battered by a run across the border to Mexico Lizbeth Rose takes a job offer from a pair of Russian wizards to be their local guide and gunnie. For the wizards, Gunnie Rose has already acquired a fearsome reputation and they’re at a desperate crossroad, even if they won’t admit it. They’re searching through the small border towns near Mexico, trying to locate a low-level magic practitioner, Oleg Karkarov. The wizards believe Oleg is a direct descendant of Grigori Rasputin, and that Oleg’s blood can save the young tsar’s life.
As the trio journey through an altered America, shattered into several countries by the assassination of Franklin Roosevelt and the Great Depression, they’re set on by enemies. It’s clear that a powerful force does not want them to succeed in their mission. Lizbeth Rose is a gunnie who has never failed a client, but her oath will test all of her skills and resolve to get them all out alive. ” – Goodreads Synopsis
It’s a fast, fun read. The characters are distinct enough to not get them confused with one another. The main character is developed enough for you to keep wanting to read. There are a lot of questions at the end of the novel which make me want to read the next, but the current story does seem wrapped up enough to feel satisfied.
The “dialect” writing can be off-putting. I switched to an audiobook about a chapter in and do not regret that at all. The first chapters help put you into the main character’s mindset, but introduced a few elements that weren’t exactly necessary.
And the story felt rushed in places, though I don’t know why since there wasn’t a lot of plot to follow. The goal was there, you knew what it was, but just not within reach.
It was a little predictable.
Lisbeth is a good pick to be a narrator. She doesn’t know everything and when introduced to the magical elements, she’s just as confused as the reader. It helps ease the forced information dumps since she’s a gunnie not a wizard. But she is a wizard, or magical, something not expounded on in the story more than oh god, they want to hunt down my real father and that means I’m magical too.
I’m fine with it not being dealt with much, knowing that this was the first book in the series. I was also fine with only getting snippets of information about the world around her. I’ve never read any of Charlaine Harris’ books, though I’ve watched the series True Blood, but she does have a strong understanding of how much information to give the reader as she lays out the world she’s created.
I found Texoma and the Russian Empire and all the other little bits of alternative history fun and engaging. I want to know more. I want to know if I should root for the Russian Prince that Lisbeth is in love with or will I learn later that he’s a horrible man? Who knows.
Well, he probably won’t. With how sickeningly obvious the romance was between him and Lisbeth and how he was painted as this gentle soul with a tough job, there’s very little chance he will turn out evil in future installments. If he does, or if it becomes some weird love triangle, I’m going to be disappointed. I know the author did that with True Blood, but honestly I’m tired of that trope.
There are elements that aren’t so predictable, but that was more because we, as readers (and as Lisbeth), don’t understand the magic of the world all too well yet. Lisbeth is quick and smart. She explains her reasonings well, very quickly after taking a quick shot or doing something shocking. As a reader, I didn’t feel like things just happened out of left field because in hindsight, her reason for doing things felt right and a little like “crap I should have noticed, too.”
Overall, the story was good and I will hunt out the next novel and keep reading. Probably only in audio book, because the unique dialect writing of people’s accents just…threw me for a loop. Definitely not impossible to get through, but a bit annoying. I’ll let you know if the story continues to be a good one.
Let me know in the comments below if you enjoy Charlaine Harris as an author, enjoyed this book, or if you have any recommendations for me.