I have a somewhat complicated relationship with Charlaine Harris. For a long time — a decade, really — I was devoted to her Sookie Stackhouse stories, eschewing the television version entirely because it diverged far too much from the prosaic-meets-fantastical first person narration she gave her main character (Sookie was always painstakingly describing her household chores before heading off to meet with vampires and almost die again and again). I also enjoyed her necromancing, and step-sibling romancing, Harper Connolly books, and even the muddle that was Midnight Crossroads, with its array of supernatural creatures with SECRETS, people. SO MANY SECRETS.
But given that I hated the ending she gave to the Sookie saga, and in fact had been souring on that series long before it at last came to an end after the ill-fated Book 13, I wasn’t too sure I’d ever embark on another series with her ever again. But then this landed in my “Recommendations for You” panel on Amazon (that algorithm knows me so well; too well; better than anyone actually alive, possibly), and of course I had to buy it. Because it was Charlaine Harris and a gun-toting badass in the lawless lands of an alternate America, and how could I resist?
I’m so glad I didn’t.
Down Texoma way, at just nineteen, “Gunnie” Lizbeth Rose is a dependable and determined hired gun, trusted to get travellers to where they are going across the bandit-plagued expanses of nothingness between New America, the Holy Russian Empire and the various other divisions that make up the landmass once known as the USA. After a particularly lethal run in with some desperadoes, Lizbeth finds herself without a crew, and so agrees to take some Grigoris — Russian magicians, like with real magic and all, because of Rasputin — across the land to seek out the one man whose blood may help cure the Tsar.
When I tell you that our Gunnie’s own blood might also have some skin in that game, it won’t be much of a surprise, nor will the fact that she and one of the searching magicians get naked together pretty speedily, but what is a surprise is how action packed and well-wrought this adventuresome and perilous tale of survival is, as will the fact that Gunnie’s voice, while eerily similar to Sookie’s (it is uncertain whether Harris can ever give her first person heroine an entirely different one), is nevertheless eminently engaging, even when she is… well, painstakingly describing her household chores before heading off to meet with vampires wizards and almost die again and again.
For all its similarities to Harris’s biggest success, however, I read this through in one breathless sitting, and will very happily embark upon the sequel as soon as I can get my hands on it. I just hope the story doesn’t drag out over thirteen books and in the end, Gunnie ends up settling down with, like, her neighborhood dry cleaner or something.
Not again, Harris! Not again.
TBR DAY 216: An Easy Death (Gunnie Rose #1) by Charlaine Harris
GENRE: Fantasy, Alternate History
TIME ON THE TBR: ~1 years.
PURCHASED FROM: Amazon.