The Cold Eye

Laura Anne Gilman. Saga, $26.99 (352p) ISBN 978-1-4814-2971-9

In the second installment of the Devil’s West historical fantasy series (after 2015’s Silver on the Road), 16-year-old Isobel continues to travel the roads west of the Mississippi, acting as the devil’s Left Hand: “the cold eye and quick knife, the final decision-maker in the isolated expanses of the Territory when the devil himself could not be.” Along with her mentor, Gabriel, Isobel sets out to discover what’s been poisoning the land, causing earthquakes, and driving away the inhabitants. She finds an ancient spirit, wounded and trapped by power-hungry magicians, as well as an exploratory mission sent by President Jefferson of the United States. Isobel and Gabriel must find a way to solve the interlocking problems, even as she learns more about what her role as Left Hand truly entails. Gilman crafts a fascinating vision of a magic-infested continent, set in an unsettled and unpredictable time. As she expands upon the imminent conflict among the various factions inhabiting North America and delves into the supernatural structure of the setting, she lays the groundwork for her increasingly capable heroine to come into her own. Agent: Barry Goldblatt, Barry Goldblatt Literary Agency. (Jan.)