cover image The Silver Bullets of Annie Oakley

The Silver Bullets of Annie Oakley

Mercedes Lackey. DAW, $28 (288p) ISBN 978-0-7564-1217-3

With the standalone 16th Elemental Masters novel (after Jolene), Lackey delivers a charming alternate history that imagines legendary sharpshooter Annie Oakley using magic to battle werewolves. In 1870 Ohio, 10-year-old Annie is indentured to a brutal couple she calls He-Wolf and She-Wolf. Lackey’s speculative twist on the situation—transforming the cruel couple into literal werewolves—feels like a no-brainer. Annie escapes, but only after He-Wolf marks her with a curse. The incident haunts her nightmares years later when she’s married to Frank Butler and works for Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. While performing in Strasburg, Germany, Annie meets Frida, an Air Elemental, who informs Annie that she too possesses power over air, while Frank is a Water Elemental. On winter solstice, the Butlers join Frida hunting ghosts, witches, and the horned demon Krampus through the streets of Strasburg. Through Frida, Annie learns that He-Wolf’s curse means he can track her anywhere in the world, making Annie and Frank all the more eager to learn all they can about their powers. It’s a slight plot, but Mackey infuses it with entertaining historical details and delightful descriptions of Annie’s trick shots. Annie’s spunk in the face of mythical monsters makes this a charmer. Agent: Russell Galen, Scovil Galen Ghosh Literary. (Jan.)