Looking for new reviews on THE COLD EYE (releasing officially tomorrow, ack!) and came across this from the Douglas County Libraries' entry on moi:
"Gilman's plot-driven novels are notable for their complex and inviting world-building, whether that world is a medieval kingdom's royal court or an urban fantasy of New York City -- she delivers frequent fresh twists on old genre ideas, leavened with subtly observed details. Her worlds' tangibility is increased by strong character voices, which give them depth and power the plot along."
Well. I blush, but I accept it entirely. :-)
[THE COLD EYE is] tale of a young traveler trying to figure out the mystery behind the suspicious deaths and magical undercurrents happening in the Territory.... When [Isobel] discovers that the force of the magic is even stronger than her own power, she is at a loss as to how to stop this untamable force. Meanwhile, Gabriel receives a post from an old friend back East who’s heard rumblings that the Congress is looking to branch out into the Territory, which would mean trouble for the boss — and everyone else. With magical and political danger around every corner, Isobel must be on her guard if she wants to save the land that she has signed her life away to protect.
The detail of the writing and steady pace of the story will keep readers intrigued with this tale of the Devil, unskilled magic and the newly formed government in Washington, DC. A great read by the talented Gilman! FOUR STARS.
so, to recap...
As the Devil’s Left Hand, Isobel serves as his eyes and ears across the land. Wandering the western edges of his territory, she is called to a place where everything has gone wrong: [spoilers redacted]. With her mentor Gabriel, Isobel investigates the cause of these natural disasters. They soon uncover a growing danger that threatens the entire region. Adding to their problems is an encounter with explorers sent by the U.S. president. It will take all of the knowledge and magical power at Isobel’s disposal to keep herself and Gabriel safe—along with the rest of the Territory.
Verdict: Gilman’s sequel to Silver on the Road continues a fabulous coming-of-age tale of magic and power, set in a conflict-ridden alternative Wild West so vividly evoked that readers will be saddling up to ride along.
“This may sound weird but I'm reading Bruce Springsteen's new book. He holds back when writing about the music biz and the players, but in writing about his craft and what makes story and storytelling, it reminds me strongly of how you tell it, how you do it. Also, the questions that drive his art and craft seem the ones you also raise and tackle throughout a lot of your stories.”
(quoted with permission)
I'm particularly proud of that story, because as far as I know, I'm the only one who went outside UK/USA folk traditions for my inspiration, using a Mexican corrido instead. Shake expectations up, I say. :-)
BoookRiot discusses "10 Great Books that Feature the Devil."
Oh, and this, too!
Obsidian Wings' Summer Roundup
The idea that people are still finding the book a year after it was originally published gives my withered and battered soul hope, it does.
"...I picked up this book out of curiosity, because fantasy western is a subgenre that I enjoy, but don’t see that often. And I loved it. I have pre-ordered the sequel.
I love the setting. In this world, everything from the Mississippi to the Spanish colonies is the Territory. The Native nations co-exist with small settlements from outside, all governed by the Agreement: give no offense without cause, and the Devil protects his own. Magicians and marshals both ride the roads, and crossroads are places of power and danger....
The land itself is practically a character, it’s described in such a compelling manner. I have always loved the sea and the mountains, but this book could convince me to love the plains.
I also loved that there is a female main character and NO romance in this book! Everyone is too busy getting stuff done/running for their lives/fighting evil magic/etc. Also, Isobel deals with many aspects of being female in a matter-of-fact way that I appreciated.
There’s intriguing and worrisome foreshadowing for coming books as well, dealing with events outside the Territory and what might happen as history marches on.
In short, this hit right in my sweet spot. 5 Stars - An Awesome Book"
The advantage to writing outside your educational comfort zone is the shit you learn. The disadvantage is the shit you have to unlearn. Also, I now have an entire sideline story set just outside the Devil's West I need to write. Some day when I have time, or someone offers me money that buys that time...
And this weekend I am off to FOGcon in SanFrancisco, where I will be lightly scheduled but heavily socializing networking Friday through Sunday, and then Sunday night I shed my professional skin, slip into the weather-appropriate concert shirt, and head out with fellow fans to see Bruce Springsteen in Oakland.
And then home on Monday, and start the ride all again.
Meanwhile, with permission, I share with you evidence that yes, reviewing a book (on a retail site, via a book blogger, or even just a tweet) can make a difference...
I seem to have a fan at the Peabody Institute Library:
"Silver on the Road: I’ve mentioned this book before in a different context, but, having just finished it myself, I can say that this book is absolutely worth your time, whether you were (are) a fan of the Oregon Trail, or a fan of magic in literature, or both..... Laura Anne Gilman has a remarkable talent for crafting a setting–I genuinely felt the dust of the trail on my skin while reading. Best of all, because none of the characters are fully aware of what is going on, the reader is kept somewhat in the dark, as well. Thus, though the pace of this book isn’t rapid-fire, the compulsion to keep reading, to explore, and to understand just what Isabelle is meant to do on her journey, is almost irresistible. I loved that, even in her darkest moments, Isabelle remained the strong, capable, and incredibly determined heroine that she was, and I cannot wait to see what happens in the next installment of this series, due out in October."
(along with some guys named Wendig, Frohock, Newman, and Holm)
" The novel is at moments like the soft brush of gently swaying prairie grass and at times like the thunder of a herd of buffalo stampeding."
In case anyone was wondering if the number of people liking SILVER ON THE ROAD has made it difficult to work on THE COLD EYE, for fear of letting y'all down?
That would be a yes.
This, as they say, is a most excellent problem to have. And now I go back to't....
This is the natural life cycle. The writer will still check for new reviews, but you understand that they will become fewer and further between, as time goes on.
But when one does appear, your heart beats a little faster - a new blip! is it a positive blip? Oh please, let it be something new I can crow about!
This morning's discovery is a definite crow. Finding Wonderland says of SILVER ON THE ROAD, "I read it -- passed it along to Tech Boy who also read it and said, "Wow, it just... worked." What's harder to say is... why. And we aren't the only ones - NPR's book reviewer had the same reaction: wow, this is cool, wonder what makes it so? In some ways, it's a simple Hero(ine)'s Journey adventure... and in other ways, not so much...
Though this is the first novel in a series, it ends as if it's the entire story told - which is a lovely extra. Isobel is a confused, conflicted, resentful, hopeful, frightened girl who is just driven to do a good job, and teen readers will relate with her desperate desire to be seen as an adult and capable, and not one of the kids anymore. I am eager for the next book in this series....
This novel isn't marketed to YA, but can be considered another crossover for older readers not afraid of reading a book with big ideas and sturdy vocabulary, and who enjoy adventurous females who dream bigger for themselves than they imagined."
LAG again. Is it immodest to admit that I love hearing people say "I don't know why this was so good?" Because I do. Because it means I made all the sweat and swearing and revisions disappear under a seamless exterior, and all you saw was Story.
(if you then felt the urge to check under the hood and see how the engine worked, that's fun too!)
But I'm just gonna cut and paste one section, 'cause this is my blog and my happy glow, 'k?
(of SILVER ON THE ROAD): This is another book that, like the one before it, would absolutely be ranked somewhere in my top five read this year. Amazing in every sense. I’m a sucker for the weird west books, probably because I live out here in the weird west, but Gilman did everything right in this book. I couldn’t get enough of it. Everything about this book is polished to a bright shine. The world is fabulous, the magic is unique and deep, the characters are just as shiny and unique as the book itself and the plot is absolutely relentless. Mixed into this is mythology and lore, and a feel that Gilman really is only scratching the surface of something incredible. I liked it so much I started re-reading it two days ago. Crazy, right? Sometimes a girl just needs something incredible in her life.
*glows indecently for so early on a Monday morning*
But the day was kind of thrown akilter (in a good way) by the news that NPR had reviewed SILVER ON THE ROAD. And despite a few phrases that made me blink in bemusement (no, sir, I am not a devotee of Campbell), overall it made me very very happy.
The book has an internal logic that holds together. The strangeness feels honestly strange, but rooted in the land like it'd been living there far longer than there have been eyes to appreciate it. The magic feels real and dirty and grounded and dangerous and uncontrollable. The Boss is a force whose influence holds the Territory together. And the people who populate Gilman's west seem sufficiently steeped in this mess of Christian theology, Native American shamanism, homespun desert magic and a healthy dose of purely American Weird that suddenly seeing a talking rattlesnake on the trail spouting doom-y prophecy only counts as maybe the third or fourth creepiest thing that might happen to them in a day.
All of which makes Silver take on the sheen and weight of forgotten history. Lost in the middle of the story, you'll feel somehow that you've always known the Devil wore a suit and ran a gambling house back in six-gun times, that he once sent a sixteen year old girl out into the world to fight monsters for him — and it's that echo in the brain that makes the thing hard to put down, because reading Silver on the Road is not like falling into some new and unfamiliar world.
It's more like a true American myth being found.
...yeah. My job here is done (at least until the next book, anyway).
Originally posted by difrancis at All the Ways I Love This Book: Silver on the Road
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.
"[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*)
"[SILVER ON THE ROAD is] captivating, vivid, and impossible to stop reading... I could taste the dust, hear the rattle of the snakes, feel the wind, and sense the road. Filled with wonderful mythology and strong, compelling characters, this book is a fantastic start to what promises to be a fantastic new series."
- Sarah Beth Durst - author of VESSEL and CONJURED
(now you know!)
Silver on the Road takes an underused setting for fantasy—the American West—and uses it to explore coming of age, the limits of power and responsibility, and the importance of mingling compassion and justice. It’s fresh and original and the language is both stark and lovely. The descriptions of the natural landscape of the West fit beautifully with descriptions of talking animals, travelling magicians and terrifying supernatural forces. (4.5 stars)