Author: Laura Anne Gilman
Series: The Devil's West (Book 1)
Publication: Saga Press (October 6, 2015)
Description: A heroic fantasy by an award-winning author about a young woman who is trained in the art of the sinister hand of magic, but at what price?
Isobel, upon her sixteenth birthday, makes the choice to work for the devil in his territory west of the Mississippi. But this is not the devil you know. This is a being who deals fairly with immense—but not unlimited—power, who offers opportunities to people who want to make a deal, and they always get what they deserve. But his land is a wild west that needs a human touch, and that’s where Izzy comes in. Inadvertently trained by him to see the clues in and manipulations of human desire, Izzy is raised to be his left hand and travel circuit through the territory. As we all know, where there is magic there is chaos…and death.
My Thoughts: I really enjoyed this fantasy set in an alternate American West. This one still has the United States east of the muddy river, the Spanish to the west and south. and the French in the north. But it also has the devil in control of the Territory. Isobel has been raised in the devil's town and the devil's saloon. When she was two, her parents indentured her to him in their own deal with him and then left without a backward glance. Now, she is sixteen and free and able to cut her own deal with the devil.
Isobel knows more what she doesn't want than what she does. She makes a deal with the devil to be his Left Hand on the road patrolling his territory. The devil finds her a mentor in Gabriel Kasun who has his own reason to agree and his own deal with the devil. The two of them take off on the road for Isobel to learn the land.
The land is a fascinating place with almost sentient dust devils, demons, and magicians. It is a land filled with magic and Isobel needs to learn the way of it. And she needs to learn fast because something has come to the territory which is a threat to all the living. Isobel feels its presence and sees the evidence of its passage in empty towns, polluted waterways, and disappearing people. As she learns more about this presence she also learns more about what her bargain with the devil really has let her in for.
This is a combination fantasy and coming of age story. I thought the world was fascinating. I also thought Isobel's struggles to find her place in it made the story interesting and engaging. I can't wait to read the next book in the Devil's West to find out what Isobel and Gabriel are up to next.
"The right hand gathers and gives, visible to all. But the left hand, Isobel, the manu sinistra? It moves in shadows, unseen, unheard ... until I deem it time for it to be seen and heard. And when it moves, its work cannot be undone. It is the strength of the Territory, thd quick knife in the darkness, the cold eye and the final word."I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.