*I received an ecopy of this book via NetGalley. This has not influenced my review.*
Much like the first book in the series, this was an entertaining romp in the Old West, full of inappropriate fun!
As I mentioned last time, one strange thing about this series is that it doesn’t seem to have a protagonist. It has a narrator/POV character who’s a member of the town and who sometimes seems to have a touch of omniscience for the sake of the story, but the story is kind of about the whole group and the goings-on in their town of Damnation. It’s a format that works for this particular story though. I didn’t feel close to any one character, but I was amused and engaged while reading nonetheless.
But that doesn’t mean there weren’t some great characters. In fact, I’ve become fond of them in general due to their ridiculous antics. It was the women who really stole the show this time though. Mabel didn’t let herself be pushed around; she made things happen, held her own in a town full of men who didn’t respect women in general, and even took one girl who showed up under her wing. Both Mollie and Annabelle turned out to be feisty when necessary, and I loved them for it. *SPOILER* One of them bashed a man over the head with a wine bottle then stabbed his neck with a shard when he grabbed her inappropriately. The other broke up a gunfight all by herself and turned out to be basically a sharpshooter. *END SPOILER* Even Gut-Shot Granny had her moments. The only one who wasn’t around much was Ms. Parker. But overall, the ladies brought their A game.
Oh, and of course I liked the setting since I do love books set in the Old West, and this Afterlife version of it adds a layer of strangeness to the whole thing.
Since this book was set in the Old West, I do want to give a warning that there were some instances of racism, ableism, sexism, toxic masculinity, etc. from some of the characters. But these were fitting in the context, and a lot of it was acknowledged or subverted by the story and individual characters. There was a lot of acknowledgement of the terrible treatment of Native Americans and the stealing of their lands. As I said above, the female characters were awesome. The disabled characters weren’t helpless or inferior. There was even mention of two guys holding hands, so there might have been LGBT+ characters. One male character openly wept at one point. So I do feel like it was just many of the characters that were realistically problematic, not the book. (But keep in mind I am not an expert on every marginalized group, and there’s always the possibility of problems in books that I don’t realize.)
I want to give one more warning, what with all the shootings happening in real life. There was lots of shooting in this book because of the Old West setting, but there was one scene in particular when someone basically just opened fire on everyone in the saloon that I imagine could potentially be triggering.
I had a couple small issues with suspension of disbelief. The plot was also a bit meandering again. Those were very minor things though and didn’t hurt my enjoyment.
Overall, this was another fun book in the series with ridiculous characters, inappropriate humor, and a strange, lawless Old West Afterlife. So pull up a stool, keep your head down, and don’t piss off any vampires, and you just might survive in Damnation long enough to make it to Heaven. ;-)
Fans of Book 1 in Clark Casey's Damnation series. Anyone who likes inappropriate humor, paranormal, and the Old West.