Reading level: Adult
Genre: Western Fantasy
Size: 320 pages
Publisher: Tor Books
Release Date: December 6, 2011
Stand Alone or Series: Stand Alone
Source: Audiobook through Audible.com
Rating: 3/5 stars
I loved War for the Oaks by Bull and was excited to see that she had another book out. I ended up listening to this book on audio. I enjoyed the Western take on the fantasy and the intricacy with which the world and characters were created. The story moved a bit slow for me though and in the end there were too many things left unresolved.
The audiobook was well done, the story is told from three main viewpoints. The male ones are read by one narrator and the female one by another narrator. In general I really enjoyed the way the story was read.
The story is complicated and includes some of our favorite Western heroes. Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, and Ike Clanton are all part of the story. And the story is a complicated one. The story is mainly told from three viewpoints. Jesse Fox has decided to travel west and when he shows up in Tombstone he ends up drawn into a political battle that may end up being about more than politics. The second viewpoint is Doc’s, he has tuberculosis but it seems to ease when he is around Wyatt, he trying not to get drawn into the seedy events happening in Tombstone but he is. Mildred Benjamin is the third; she is a widow who sets type at a local newspaper…she can sometimes sense or see things that shouldn’t be there…because of this she also gets drawn into some strange goings on.
Just trying to give a good synopsis of this story makes my head hurt. I am not at all familiar with Western history, so I didn’t really recognize or relate to any of the characters right off the bat. There are a lot of characters introduced and it was difficult for me to keep them all straight in the first third of the story. To add to this difficultly we change viewpoint a lot and the plot is not at all clear. The story starts as a recounting of seemingly unrelated events that happen in Tombstone. It takes a long while for the reader to figure out how all the events are connected and even then the story doesn’t seem to have a real point.
It also takes a while for the magic to show up. You can tell that Wyatt isn’t quite right from the beginning of the story; but it seems more like a misuse of power than anything magical. You also know that Jesse Fox is struggling with accepting that he has more than normal abilities. All of this isn’t very well explained until late in the second half of the book; so it takes awhile to realize that there is magic and it does have relevance to everything that is going on.
The plot itself isn’t much of a plot. Basically you are reading about Tombstone and what is going on there; the main plot is basically the mystery to unravel why all of these people are doing what they are doing and why they are all in Tombstone in the first place. I found the first part of the book to be slow and boring and had a hard time figuring out what the point was.
There were some things I did enjoy. You can tell that Bull put a ton of work into research for this novel; I loved the detail and the way things were described. It seems like she put a lot of effort into mirroring the true history of Tombstone; it would have been nice to have an afterward addressing this.
I also really enjoyed the characters of Mildred and Jesse. Mildred was a wonderful example of how the Wild West let women take on more responsibilty and start to carve their own futures without giving up being women. Jesse Fox was mysterious, yet very easy to relate too. It was funny how daring he could be at times but how when it came to Mildred he always put his foot in his mouth. I enjoyed these two characters and though they were well done. The surrounding characters were okay but never came alive for me like these two did.
The book ends pretty ambiguously. The main problem is kind of dealt with but not in a permanent way. You never really find out where all of the characters go or end up. The story just kind of stops. I looked to see if there was going to be a sequel but it doesn’t look like it.
Overall an okay book. I really enjoyed the detail and intricacy in the story; you can tell a lot of research went into this story. I also enjoyed the two main characters. I thought the story was poorly paced though and had trouble with all of the viewpoints. The plot wanders a lot and takes a lot of time to get to the point, when it does get to the point it’s kind of anti-climatic. The ending is pretty open; the story just stops. I would tentatively recommend this story to those who like Weird West stories with a touch of magic in them. Just make sure you have patience if you are going to read this.