Debut author Ely brings to life a gritty future American West, shattered by a Second Civil War, in which a sharpshooting teen must reconcile the conflicting pulls of security, justice, and conscience.
Seventeen-year-old Serendipity “Pity” Jones runs away from an untenable situation in her Commune and finds herself in Cessation, where there is no law except that which exists in Casimir, part brothel, part gambling hall, part stronghold, and all the domain of the ruthless and golden-skinned Miss Selene. Pity’s skills secure her a place in the Theatre Vespertine and a home with a new sort of family, but she still must contend with a guilt born out of a personal failure earlier in the story—and with the hard justice of the world she now finds herself in. There is violence here (on the page) and sex (off the page), but both serve a purpose. The first half of the book makes some familiar moves and makes them slowly, but the story gains steam and arrives at a satisfying ending. The lackluster love story also gets interesting in the second half, happily avoiding the usual tropes and even inverting a couple.
A little Into the Badlands, a little Firefly, a whole lot to say about how right and wrong so often borrow from each other. (Dystopian Western. 14-18)