The Devil’s Revolver

V.S. McGrath. Brain Mill, $14.95 trade paper (400p) ISBN 978-1-942083-54-2
This “weird west” novel from McGrath (the author of several romance novels as Vicki Essex) features vivacious heroes with tricks up their sleeves but suffers from a key villain presented as a flat caricature of power-hungry evil and from a setting grounded in fantasy and SF tropes that never quite find coherence. After the werewolf bandits of the Crowe gang make a targeted attack on 17-year-old Hettie Alabama’s family, killing her parents and kidnapping her sensitive younger sister, Abby, Hettie becomes the wielder of the mage gun Diablo, which takes a year from her life with each kill. Along with “Uncle” Jeremiah, who has been keeping the gun hidden from the omnipresent Pinkerton Agency, sharpshooting healer Ling Tsang, and bounty hunter Walker Woodroffe, Hettie heads from Montana to the Mexican border to find Abby, though rescuing her may mean giving up control of the gun. Although plot hooks set up a planned sequel, Hettie and her colleagues finish this story without deep enough personal connections to fully gel them as a group. Ages 14–up. Agent: Courtney Miller-Callihan, Handspun Literary. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 08/07/2017
Genre: Children's
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