Silver on the Road by Laura Anne Gilman

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The Devil's West book 1, Saga Press, 2015. ISBN: 9781481429689.
(Age: 16+) Recommended. Endeavour Award Nominee (2016) . An original take on a Western, this fantasy features a 16 year old young woman, Isobel who makes a choice to work for the devil in the Territory. The devil is an enigmatic figure who controls all the Territory and anyone who wants to live there must abide by his rules. When Isobel signs an Agreement to become his left hand, she doesn't realise just what that means. Setting off with her mentor, Gabriel Karsun, she travels the land, meeting magic and chaos on the way.
The setting is fabulous, the loneliness of the land is vividly described as are Isobel's lessons in managing to learn how to cope on the road. Acquiring the skills of horse riding, camping and gathering knowledge of the magic on the road and meeting the pioneers who are trying to make a living off the land provide a fascinating background to the strange thing that is eating communities and spreading disease.
Izzy proves herself to be a capable and sensitive woman. Once she overcomes her shock about what being the left hand of the devil really means, she displays great leadership skills, not being afraid to stand up for what she believes her boss, the devil wants her to do. The character of the devil is one that will intrigue readers as they wonder if he is supposed to be the devil portrayed in the bible or some mystical figure from folklore. And Gabriel too has secrets that are not revealed in this first book of the series and that is tantalising as well.
This is a book for fans who are looking for something different in their fantasy stories. Fans of road trips and readers who enjoyed Tess of the road by Rachael Hartman may also enjoy the road trip.
Pat Pledger