Ahoy there me mateys! I loved the author’s books about hippo cowboys even though I didn’t enjoy their fantasy novel. So I was excited that their newest novella was once again set in the American West and deals with queer librarian spies on horseback. I mean how can ye not get excited about that? I got even more excited when Matey Tammy @ books,bones,andbuffy sent me a surprise copy of the novella. She be awesome (seriously)! Arrrr!
I really, really enjoyed this one. Only a few small issues that really are because I wanted more of certain things. The basic premise is that a young girl, Esther, runs away from home, hides in the Librarian’s wagon, and hijinks ensue.
- The Librarians – Of course! I thought it was hysterical that these women are supposed to be morally virtuous and distribute the “Appropriate Materials” sanctioned by the government. Ha. Their official title is “Librarians of the Southwest Territory, the Honorable Brigade of Morally Upright Women.” Of course the librarians are spies delivering the truth!
- Diversity – Ye have a group of lesbians and non-binary kickass women as all the main characters. Arrr!
- Genre-Mashup – This is an alternative history western dystopian. SO fun.
- Functional Relationships – It is so wonderful to see couples who are in loving and caring partnerships. I particularly loved how Bet and Leda deal with each other and their disagreements. Each have rough pasts and mental health issues and yet make it work.
- The Romance – The romance in this starts out in insta-lust on the part of Esther and then evolves into a slow-burn relationship. I liked how the ending was more about future hopeful possibilities between them and not just happily ever after.
- Found Families – I just frickin’ love when people find where they belong. This book captures that so nicely.
- Amity – Such a dang good character! Fierce, kinda insane, and so very enjoyable. Her entire arc was just amazing. I loved how she dealt with Esther. She kept surprising me. I seriously want a whole story about her. Her past, present, future. I’ll take it all.
The (not quite) Negatives –
- Character Names – One of the characters is Bet and the other is Beatriz. I though Bet was a nickname for Beatriz at first and it lead to massive confusion at the beginning of the novella. Silly me.
- The Romance – I was a little annoyed at how quickly Esther lusted over someone else after her girlfriend just DIED. I did believe that she was traumatized by the death but wanted more exploration into how she dealt with it. There was a bit of a nebulous time jump and the issue was just kinda glossed over. It should have been dealt with more. Beatriz deserved better. This is where a longer book could have helped.
- The World-Building – I absolutely loved the world the author created but because this was a novella, there weren’t many answers. How does the government work? How did the world end up this way? How do the Librarians not get caught? I loved the sketches and the world felt real but I want more!
So all in all this be an excellent novella that I am glad to have and would certainly reread. More set in this world please. Arrrr!
Goodreads has this to say about the novella:
In Upright Women Wanted, award-winning author Sarah Gailey reinvents the pulp Western with an explicitly antifascist, near-future story of queer identity.
“That girl’s got more wrong notions than a barn owl’s got mean looks.”
Esther is a stowaway. She’s hidden herself away in the Librarian’s book wagon in an attempt to escape the marriage her father has arranged for her–a marriage to the man who was previously engaged to her best friend. Her best friend who she was in love with. Her best friend who was just executed for possession of resistance propaganda.
The future American Southwest is full of bandits, fascists, and queer librarian spies on horseback trying to do the right thing.
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Previous Log Entries for this Author
river of teeth – book 1 (Captain’s Log – Alternative History Sci-Fi)
taste of marrow – book 2 (Captain’s Log – Alternative History Sci-Fi)
magic for liars (Walk the Plank On the Horizon – Fantasy eArc)