So I had to sit on on this one for a while before even committing to a star rating, and even now I’m still not sure about it. I mostly only chose three because it seemed like the most neutral option. This book is hard to think about, hard to digest, and hard to categorize. Ultimately, that’s probably a good thing. Confusing and hard to categorize generally at least means ‘original.’ And Pretty Deadly is certainly original. But it’s also confusing and confounding and hard to pin down.
My main problem is that I can’t decide if this was deliberate or not.
I want to give DeConnick the benefit of the doubt because I’ve found her accessible and witty and fun to read in the past, but there were parts of this book that were so confusing or poorly explained that it affected my enjoyment. I’m the type of reader that doesn’t mind a little ambiguity, but things just shouldn’t be left out there all willy-nilly and unexplained. There are characters in this book that are never identified. Who even are they and why are they turning into foxes and ravens and flying away? What is this world? What are its rules? WHO EVEN KNOWS! If it was deliberate, this is a style that isn’t really for me. There’s just too much that is never explained. And when you’re dealing with shit that is as weird as the weird shit in this book, at least a little bit of explanation is required. If it wasn’t deliberately obtuse, well, then it probably deserves a lower rating than three stars.
This is definitely magical realism, either way. It’s a sort of western fantasy, where a little girl and old man are on the run from some mysterious figures, and Death’s Daughter is involved, and it could have been SO COOL if it was just explained a liiiiiitle bit more. Instead, we get narration from a butterfly and a skeletal rabbit. And a random dude who turns into a coyote. Is he a man? Is he a coyote? WHO KNOWS. The origin story of Death’s Daughter (whose name is Ginny) was super cool, so part of my frustration is that I think this could have been amazing, but it was too esoteric and confusing to really get there.
I will say the artwork was GORGEOUS.
The storyline of this might become clearer on re-read, but I was so fed up with it and exhausted by the end that I didn’t even want to try. I’m not sure if I will be continuing this series. We’ll see how I feel when volume two is released.