East of the Mississippi and as far west as they eye can see, right up until you hit the mountains themselves, is the Devil’s territory. And he protects his own.
This is the second in Gilman’s The Devil’s West series (preceded by the excellent Silver on the Road) and it expertly builds on its predecessor. This is an American West that is functionally the same and fundamentally different. It’s a place of magic and demons, of the lost and the found, a territory without country or king but with a Law that overrides it all. And at the center of the story is our protagonist, our heroine, Isobel the Devil’s Hand, a woman sworn to do whatever it takes to protect the Devil’s territory. Whatever it takes.
This series is the alternate history, magical realism Western that you didn’t know you wanted; but trust me, you really, really want it. Gilman wisely focuses the story around a handful of characters and as they explore their world we are introduced to and explore it with them. If the first book was all about introduction–the reader to the world and Isobel to her new role, to her power, then this book is about consequences.
Because there are always consequences–to choices made, to secrets kept, to power abused, to people wronged.
It’s a carefully written book–as I read I was transported to the West, could hear the creak of leather and the far-off call of the birds overhead. It’s apparent that Gilman knows every detail of the land the book inhabits and the characters who populate it. But it’s also not overstuffed, she leaves you wanting more; about the world, about the characters, and about the details of a history that’s like the one we know except for how it really, really isn’t.
I can’t wait to read the next book in the series, to see where it all goes from here. Because, for as eventful and dramatic as the book was, it was clearly only the beginning of the journey.