Wednesday, March 24, 2021

An Easy Death by Charlaine Harris: review

4/5 stars on Goodreads

An Easy Death by Charlaine Harris

Charlaine Harris has a rich and varying catalogue of urban fantasy and mystery series, mostly set in present-day small American towns with peculiar people. Gunnie Rose, her latest series, is a refreshing exception to this.

The series starts with An Easy Death. It’s set in post-apocalyptic alt-history America of the Great Depression era in the 1930s. The United States has collapsed after a series of events and been divided into several countries or annexed by its neighbours, Canada from the north and Mexico from the south. The east coast is part of England and the west coast forms a new Holy Russian Empire, after the Tsar fled there to escape the revolution of the 1918. The rest have formed Dixie in the south, New America in Midwest and Texoma in southwest.

Texoma is poor and lawless, a new wild west where gunslingers rule and bandits prey on travellers on poorly maintained roads. Lizbeth (Gunnie) Rose is nineteen, but an experienced gunslinger. She’s part of a group who offers protection to people who need to travel the lawless roads. But everything goes wrong and she finds herself without a crew.

In need of employment, she accepts a job to protect two wizards from the Holy Russian Empire where magic is everyday thanks to Rasputin. They are looking for a man Gunnie knows for a fact is dead, because she’s killed him—not that she’s about to reveal it to them. Curious to find out what they want with him, she sets out on a long and perilous journey across the border to Mexico.

This was a good start to a series. The world was interesting and the plot fast-paced and full of action. Gunnie was a cynical and resourceful protagonist, oddly likeable despite never doing anything nice. The first person narrative left the side characters slightly distant, but they made a good counterpart to her, although I didn’t see Eli in the romantic light she did—the opposite. There was a lot of graphic violence and talk of rape, which sort of worked in its context, but after a while I became desensitized and it stopped being effective. Nevertheless, I liked the book a lot and will continue with the series.  

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