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Saturday, September 10, 2016

Revenge and the Wild (and Crazy!) West Gets a Bit Out of Control


Revenge and the Wild, Michelle Modesto

In Revenge and the Wild, young Westie is on the run … from her own personal demons.  Most particularly from the need to find the cannibals (yes, cannibals) who killed and presumably ate her entire family while they were lost and separated from the rest of the westward wagon train.  Although she survived and was adopted by a millionaire inventor who created a powerful mechanical arm to replace her “lost” arm, this kind of thing leaves a mark on a girl:  Westie is a wild child!  Eventually her whirlwind of psychic pain draws everyone who loves her into its vortex, including her Wintu friend Bena, fellow cannibal survivor Alistair, her adoptive father, and even a friendly new vampire conquest.

I was first drawn to this book by … well, frankly, by that cannibal twist.  What’s up with this? I thought.  Honestly, that story still seems compelling to me, trying to solve the murder of her parents ... by cannibals, people!  And then those cannibals show up in her town as potential backers for her adoptive father’s new invention (which invention is necessary to save the “magic” that protects the entire town).  And that’s where things just kind of fall apart for me.  

It’s not that no one else believes that these nice people are cannibals – I mean, they haven’t seen them eat anyone, and it’s a horrible thing to suggest about people one hardly knows – and after all, that’s just the way we make the main character struggle to prove her case, to put her through her paces.  Instead, the difficulty comes in the way in which the author has layered on the monsters and themes and … complications, until a lot of what was there was just ... a mess.

It’s cannibals and vampires and magic!  Oh, my!  Oh, and steampunk and Native Americans and trolls, and, by the way, zombies, and on and on and on.  And Westie is not just the possessor of a super-strong mechanical arm and a burning vendetta to find her family’s killers.  She is also (at the tender age of 17?) a recovering alcoholic who can’t quite get past that itch.  Possible, yes.  Necessary?  I dunno.  Just a bit too much for me.

So it was definitely the wild, wild Westie, and there were some good twists along the way, but I felt that the author introduced a crazy world that was never well-integrated.  This one is best read with mental eyes in a permanent half-squint, if you know what I mean, since the supernatural and steampunk blend left much to be desired.

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