Howdy there mateys!
silver on the road (Laura Anne Gilman)
I wanted to like this book. I really did. It is a fantasy western. I loved previous western fantasy books that I read like walk on earth a stranger, wake of vultures, and karen memory. But alas it is not for me. This book does not walk the plank simply because it was well written and had a great main character in Izzy. The concept was fascinating. I just couldn’t get into it and the reading was slow going for me. I had to trudge through it even though the novel is not long at 375 pages. I think overall the magic in the novel was just not explained well enough for me. Izzy’s magic seems to be intuitive but those helping her give cryptic hints and comments. While the magic may have a compelling underlying structure, I did not seem to get a glimpse of how it works at all. The author seems to suggest that Izzy’s magic and purpose have to be learned/earned this way but I was not satisfied by it. With such a great premise, I am saddened by my take on this novel but I have to admit I have no urge to see where the story goes next. That being said other folk seemed to have really liked this one, so I am not saying that readers should skip this one. It’s just this Captain did not enjoy this adventure enough.
The author has this to say about the novel:
East of the Mississippi, in the civilized world, dime store novels and gossips claim that the territory to the west is home to monsters and magic, wild Indians and disreputable whites. They claim that in order to survive, any who live there must make a deal with the Devil.
Some of this is true.
Isobel is a child of the Territory. She grew up in a saloon, trained to serve drinks and fold laundry, to observe the players at the card tables and report back to her boss on what she saw. But when she comes of age, she is given a choice….
“The right hand gathers and gives, visible to all. But the left hand, Isobel, the manu sinistra? It moves in shadows, unseen, unheard…. Until I deem it time for it to be seen and heard. And when it moves, its work cannot be undone. It is the strength of the Territory, the quick knife in the darkness, the cold eye and the final word.”
She looked up, away from his hands, and was caught by a gaze the burnt gold of the morning sun.
“I have been lacking a left hand for too long, now. Are you strong enough for that, Isobel nee Távora Lacoyo?”
Isobel chooses power. Chooses risk. Chooses to throw her cards in with the Devil, Master of the Territory.
But the costs of that power are greater than she ever imagined; the things she must do, the person she must become . . . And she needs to learn her new role quickly: pressures from both outside the Territory and within are growing, and the Devil’s Hand has work to do . . .
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