Happy Book Review Tuesday! It’s July, which means pool time for me, and plenty of reading. I’m happy to share two exceptional books, the first of which held me enthralled for two straight days. I may have finished it one if I didn’t need to sleep…
Gun of Perdition
by Jessica Bakkers
For a debut novel, this author knocked it out of the ballpark. I’m not much for kick-ass heroines, mainly because they come across as, well…contrived, but Grace Dyer is in a league of her own. Not only is she is a strong protagonist, but she’s backed by a number of equally strong, unique, and highly memorable characters.
Jessie is a clean-up boy in a saloon, minding his own business, when Grace strides in off the dirty trail and turns his world upside down. From that first explosive confrontation, the reader is sucked into the story, caught up in one astounding encounter after another. Soon, Jessie is hunting nightmarish creatures at Grace’s side as she searches for the conniving and sadistic “darksome gunman.” Joined by a wolf companion (who is far more than he seems) and a handful of others they encounter on their way, Grace and Jessie’s path leads them through towns where innocents are not always innocent an evil-doers, not always evil.
There are plenty of grays in this grim world which entwines the grit of the Old West with Biblical prophecy, Native American folklore, beastly creatures, poker hands, and battle lines drawn between good and evil. It’s a melting pot that grabs you right from the start and never lets go until the mind-blowing, staggering conclusion.
Of special note is the author’s grasp of period dialect, so perfect you can almost feel the spit and vinegar of trail dust falling off every word. Jessie’s character undergoes an amazing story arc, but each of the unique characters has their own moments to shine. As much as I loved Grace and Jessie, Kaga was the standout for me. To discover what made him–and the others–so special, you need to read this wildly colorful and entertaining story. One of my best reads of 2020!
5 Whopping Big Stars
Genre: Dark Fantasy > Dark Fantasy Horror > Western Fantasy Horror
What We Forgot to Bury
by Marian Montgomery
This book is told between the alternating viewpoints of the two lead characters. Elle is troubled teen, close to flunking out her senior year of high school. She has a terrible home life, living in a filth-infested apartment with a drunk foster parent who gambles away her assistance checks. Elle’s father, a man with a history of domestic abuse, is in prison for a crime he says he didn’t commit.
Charlotte has a beautiful home in a gated community. Her workaholic husband is often absent, and her own dark past has left her wary of others. During a horrible storm, Elle knocks on Charlotte’s door for shelter. She knows all about Charlotte’s past, convinced that it contributed to ruining her life. Once Charlotte allows Elle into her house and her life, the reader is treated to both sides of the coin, and no one is who they seem.
Charlotte and Elle dance around each other, never fully trusting, while maintaining all the earmarks of a growing friendship. Soon Elle is left questing everything she thought she knew. In addition, she finds herself in an unexpected situation that leaves her vulnerable, her future uncertain. Again, Charlotte is there to help, solicitous, while still maintaining an underlying edge of distrust.
Occasionally, the behaviors of both characters require a stretch of the imagination, but the plot is twisty and engaging. There are HUGE surprises in store at the end. My only quibble is that when the revelations come, they strike like a thunderbolt—quick and done. I wish there had been more build up to the final cards being played. It all happens so fast. That aside, this was an inventive and suspenseful read and the ending was jaw-dropping. Well done!
Genre: Domestic Thrillers
I love when books deliver surprises and twists at the end. Both of these novels did that in abundance. Kudos to the authors for keeping me entertained!