Genre: Adult Fantasy Western
Year Release: 2017
Source: Chicago Public Library
Content warnings: Vomiting, animal violence, gore, gun violence, suicide, surgery, poison, fungus
Trans cowboy Rhett Walker is on the hunt for the alchemist who had run off with Cora’s sister across an alternate version of the U.S. West full of monsters and shifters. The battle to come is the fiercest yet. During his travels, Rhett ponders where boundaries between himself and The Shadow, especially as his found family grows closer together, despite their individual heavy baggage and destinies to come.
This book’s pacing is exquisite and I read it in two sittings. The cliffhanger at the end, however, was so cruel, I immediately requested the fourth and final installment from the library.
From a story craft perspective, Bowen does a phenomenal job balancing the pieces of the first two books while moving the plot of this third book ahead. I never felt lost at any point, nor did it feels like most of this story suffers for it. The plot continues ever forward, which makes it such a quick read.
As far as the trans rep goes, I think it’s continued to be handled respectfully. I was a little worried during one moment where someone from Rhett’s past comes into play. That scene, however, is so touching and is such a welcome moment of softness between all the ugliness and near losses throughout.
My favorite character in the series gets introduced here, and I never thought I would love a gorgon so much. Relationships definitely shine more during the quieter moments, as the world-building really got its grounding in the second book. That being said, there is plenty of action and monsters, including further exploration of the social and economic disparities among different faction. One of them comes into play during the final set piece. Consequences really push the story action forward, making this series a wild ride. I am not ready to get off just yet.
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