Emma Bulls weaves an enchanting fantasy story mixed in with some recognizable figures of the American Frontier.
I rarely read Weird/Historical Westerns (if at all) but the genre is part of the r/Fantasy 2016 Book Bingo Challenge and this novel came well-recommended, so I trusted the other readers opinions and it paid off in spades. It's nice to step out of my comfort zone and actually discover a good book.
The beginning grabbed my attention even if little is laid out for the reader and things get a bit confused at times; throughout, it was satisfying having to piece the puzzle together from the natural interactions of the characters as the story progressed.
The main leads are adult and fascinating: a working woman who seeks her path in life; a cynical dentist embroiled in treachery; a traveling horse-trainer who befriends the Chinese in the XIX century American West. Their lives intertwine with personal drama, county politics, law enforcement, violence, a mystery (not easy to unravel) and subtle, pervasive magic.
This is a complex, slowly unfurling story, with beautiful storytelling and spot-on pacing. It’s more about atmospheres, nuances and the intersections of the characters' lives than action, but it’s still a Western of course, and the setting is vividly described.
Although this book is a standalone, there are a few open ends and I would be very interested in a sequel.Underlying every philosophy was the inevitability of death. The moral and ethical questions, the search for right living, the weighing of the evidence of one’s senses—it all came down to how fast, how far, and which way you could run before you hit the end of the rope.