I listened to Sarah Gailey’s Magic for Liars last year and enjoyed it, but this was even better. Upright Women Wanted is set in a Wild West style world from the future, where a continuous war has torn the country apart and men dominate society. Information, the tool we use to grow and learn and resist, is tightly controlled with approved materials from the Librarians. The goal for this society is to keep people uneducated and very carefully educated.
At the start of the story, Esther (note the biblical name) has run away from an abusive father who is a leader of this government and has executed Esther’s lover for illegal materials. She hides with a group of queer Librarians who ride on horses to towns and distribute literature. They are also involved in the resistance in this world, and pick up three women who are together to take them to a place where they can be safe.
Since there is a lot that Esther doesn’t know about this world and the story is told from her point of view there is a lot that we discover but a LOT that is unanswered. We have barely scratched into this world when the story ends. This book is short, messy, and immersive and very resonant. It grabbed me very tightly and pulled me right in, and I’ve never even ridden a horse! When the climax of the book happens, it leaves you with more questions than answers. I do not know if there will be a sequel, but Sarah Gailey is now an author that is on my list of must read everything by them.
This book is categorized as science fiction, but it could also be a Western and Speculative Fiction. Esther is taught to believe she does not deserve love because she loves women. But Sarah Gailey lets her know emphatically that she does.