Red Waters Rising by Laura Anne Gilman
The Devil's West bk. 3. Saga Press, ISBN: 9781481429757.
(Age: 16+) Recommended. Themes: Fantasy, Western, Coming of age. In the conclusion to The Devil's West trilogy, Isobel and Gabriel ride to the great river, the Mud River, (aka Mississippi) where Isobel will once again be tested not just as the Devil's Left Hand but as a bone child. With strange threats to the welfare of the Territory, it is up to Isobel to work out what is happening. Meanwhile, Gabriel is increasingly drawn to the waters of the Mud River.
The alternative world of the West has been a great setting for this character driven trilogy, and the descriptions of the Red Stick, its inhabitants and relations with the Native peoples all make for an interesting reading experience. As the settler numbers increase and the American fort across the river grows in size, there are tensions about the Agreement that binds the people and allows them to stay in the Territory. Isobel must arbitrate carefully to help calm the unrest that is developing.
It was unusual to see the strong relationship between Isobel and Gabriel, who acts so well as her mentor, teaching her the skills she needs and ensuring that she takes the lead in solving the problems facing the land. Isobel has developed from a young 16 year old to a confident young woman who is prepared to think through issues and act for the best of the people, while readers will be intrigued by the pull that the water exerts on Gabriel.
The conclusion is complex and well developed, strange and disturbing. Readers will be sure to pursue the novella, Gabriel's road, for a further look at the world of the Territory and Gabriel's quest for peace.