First, a qualifier. I know Laura Anne Gilman and I got an advance reader copy of the book from her because I whined and moaned. I’d heard her read from it at an SFWA reading and I so wanted to have a chance at it as soon as possible. I wasn’t disappointed. In fact I already want to read it again.
What’s the book? Titled Silver on the Road, it’s the first in The Devil’s West series. Here’s description of it:
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.
Now first, don’t go making the mistake that this is YA because Isobel is 16. It isn’t. It’s a coming of age story, a story of becoming (and not just for Isobel) and a story of change and exploration.
Set in The Territory, where magic is normal and the world is very dangerous, Isobel travels with her mentor, Gabriel, to learn about the territory and The Road. On their journey, they uncover something dangerous and evil and must attempt to deal with it, for Isobel is the Devil’s Left Hand, and while she doesn’t know what that means at first, she has to learn.
There’s so much I love about this book. The characters have such depth. The writing is deft and rich and I could smell and practically touch everything inside. It’s well researched, which you only notice because you can immerse so deep into the world and the story. The deftness of the story-telling left me a little breathless with envy. Especially conversations.
There’s not a lot of religion in the book, though the devil is there, as are some monks from Spain. It’s more about the west and the Territory’s own peculiar rules and habits. It turns history on its head and makes it both utterly familiar and entirely new.
I’ve read Laura Anne’s other books. I like them. A lot. But this is a whole new level of writing for her and it’s truly stunning. If I sound like I’m gushing, it’s because it’s one of those books that you want to pass around to everybody you know to read and you want to put it up for awards because it’s just that good. So do yourself a favor and get a copy. Read it. Savor it. I did. I will again. It releases on October 6th. So go get yourself signed up. I promise you won’t regret it.
You’re not doing a lot of signings to support this book! How can I get a signed copy?
Yeah - I’d hoped to be able to support the book more with in-person signings, but it would have had to’ve been on my own dime, and the budget just wasn’t there. :-(
However! Even if you live far away in a place where no writer ever comes to visit ever (yes, I’ve gotten your email, I sympathize), you can lay hands on a signed (and possibly even personalized!) copy of SILVER ON THE ROAD. Because the following bookstores have offered to handle mail or phone orders of signed copies!
BORDERLANDS BOOKS, in San Francisco, CA.
UNIVERSITY BOOKSTORE, in Seattle, WA
Call 1-800-335-7323 or 206-634-3400
Or use this form: http://www.bookstore.washington.edu/_ser
They will ask:
*what (if anything) you would like the inscription to say,
*the address you'd like the book sent to,
*What kind of shipping you want (they will be able to quote you costs)
*and how you would like to pay for your order.
What about book plates?
Ahhh, glad you asked! Yes, if you’ve already bought your copy, and would like a signed bookplate, all you have to do is send us a SASE (stamped, self-addressed envelope) larger than 4”x 6” to:
Laura Anne Gilman
c/o 820 NE State Highway 104
Suite 102, PMB 138
Kingston, WA 98346
and we will send you one! Or even two!
(this is a limited time offer - get your requests in before the new year begins!)
"[A] fresh take on the hero's journey....The world felt very much like ours but was different enough that I could see the similarities while keeping it separate it from our world. It's layered and textured and feels real...I liked Izzy and loved seeing her growth. At only sixteen she's already quite strong and courageous; I can't wait to see what else she has in store.
SILVER ON THE ROAD is a coming of age story filled with poetic language, adventure, a different take on the devil, and a new perspective on North American history. It was entertaining, fascinating, and a wonderful story. I'll be looking for the next book."
(there is also an interview with moi, and a giveaway for one of my last Advance Reading Copies, if that's your thing.... *g*)