The two-bit town of Rogue City is a lawless place, full of dark magic and saloon brawls, monsters and six-shooters. But it’s perfect for seventeen-year-old Westie, the notorious adopted daughter of local inventor Nigel Butler.
Westie was only a child when she lost her arm and her family to cannibals on the wagon trail. Nine years later, Westie may seem fearsome with her foul-mouthed tough exterior and the powerful mechanical arm built for her by Nigel, but the memory of her past still haunts her. She’s determined to make the killers pay for their crimes—and there’s nothing to stop her except her own reckless ways.
But Westie’s search ceases when a wealthy family comes to town looking to invest in Nigel’s latest invention, a machine that can harvest magic from gold—which Rogue City desperately needs as the magic wards that surround the city start to fail. There’s only one problem: the investors look exactly like the family who murdered Westie’s kin. With the help of Nigel’s handsome but scarred young assistant, Alistair, Westie sets out to prove their guilt. But if she’s not careful, her desire for revenge could cost her the family she has now.
This thrilling novel is a remarkable tale of danger and discovery, from debut author Michelle Modesto.
A Western-type fantasy with steampunk elements, you say? Somehow, this genre-mashing book works – and while it had some flaws, it was decidedly odd and wonderful.
Westie is as impulsive as all-hell, which consistently leads to her making rash decisions and diving head-first into situations – a recipe for disaster, naturally. But who can blame her when she’s forced to come face-to-face with her family’s murderers, and make nice with them so that her adoptive father obtains the money he needs for his town-saving invention to materialise? She’s also a recovering alcoholic, a rather crappy friend, incredibly single-minded, traumatised and stubborn. In short, a hot mess.
Although there are three potential love interests here, it never turns into a love saga – it’s made very clear where Westie’s interests lie, but that she’s not just going to sit around and wait for him to pull his head out of his ass. And fair enough.
The book takes is set largely in Rogue City, where humans and creatures (werewolves, vampires, elves and the like) live in an uneasy peace under a magical blue dome, which keeps everyone protected from the outside elements (mostly zombies), as well as each other. There is also a Native American clan, known as the Wintu, who are magic users and responsible for the protection of the city. All in all, an interesting setting that doesn’t try to cram too much into it, since this is a standalone.
The author’s writing style is easy to read, and it was fun to watch the game of cat-and-mouse that takes place between Westie and her enemies, wondering how it will all come to a head. (Quite literally, in fact, since cannibalism features prominently in the novel. Yeah, you heard me.)
ARC received from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.