An Easy Death
Content warning: Violence including gun stuff
This is not an objective review because the Sookie Stackhouse novels are a foundational element of my psyche. I am positioned to love anything and everything that Charlaine Harris writes. That being said, I think I can make a pretty good case for why reading this book may be a good idea for the right reader – with a definite caveat in #4.
I. A completely fresh book-world.
This is a science fiction/fantasy novel using an alternate history of the USA. It’s 1930s dustbowl meets magic meets gun slinging. One of the best parts of this book is that the world building feels absolutely effortless. I was fed information steadily while the plot continued to unfold in astonishing ways and my deep, deep love for the main character built. Speaking of…
II. What a badass main character.
Lizbeth Rose, aka Gunnie, works as a gunslinger. She provides protection to people travelling through the ‘lawless’ parts of the US. When her crew is killed and Gunnie makes it home by the skin of her teeth, she takes on a job protecting two Russian magicians travelling south. They’re looking for someone that Gunnie knows, but Gunnie isn’t revealing all her cards to these untrustworthy magicians.
The description of Gunnie’s efforts to survive are visceral, brutal and awe-inspiring. Gunnie herself is resilient, not all that in touch with her feelings, and absolutely brilliant at what she does. There’s a slight fatalism to her outlook, but simultaneously, there is a soul-deep drive to live. Things change for her when she spends more time with one of those Russian magicians. Enter Eli…
III. Slow burn romance… the love interest!
Really, really slow burn romance is an acquired taste. There is no HEA in this book, not even a happy-for-now. Do not start this book thinking that there will be resolution as you’ll be bitterly disappointed (i.e. don’t make the same mistake I did). I confess that this coloured my experience of the book. Gunnie is – understandably – slow to trust and Eli is a little mesmerised by Gunnie. It’s searing, but slow.
IV. Intense emotional investment
Some series I can blast through. With others, I need long gaps between books. This series is the latter. So intense, so real was the emotional depth of the romance in this book, that I had to stop halfway through book 2 because it was just too much. BUT it must be said that I am a bit delicate when it comes to intense, fraught romance (in books and life). I’m not so good with intense books, especially a book that requires patience for the main character to have long-lasting happiness.
Despite the worldbuilding, the badassery, and the very fine slow burn, the intensity meant that I was not the perfect reader for this book – which pains me to admit. If you’ve got the grit to get through a romantic wringer, then you’ll probably adore this story.
Certainly, I will keep reading this series because the plot and the main character are just so damn good, but I’ll need to pace myself.
The beloved #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Sookie Stackhouse series, the inspiration for HBO’s True Blood, and the Midnight Crossroad trilogy adapted for NBC’s Midnight, Texas, has written a taut new thriller—the first in the Gunnie Rose series—centered on a young gunslinging mercenary, Lizbeth Rose.
Set in a fractured United States, in the southwestern country now known as Texoma. A world where magic is acknowledged but mistrusted, especially by a young gunslinger named Lizbeth Rose. Battered by a run across the border to Mexico Lizbeth Rose takes a job offer from a pair of Russian wizards to be their local guide and gunnie. For the wizards, Gunnie Rose has already acquired a fearsome reputation and they’re at a desperate crossroad, even if they won’t admit it. They’re searching through the small border towns near Mexico, trying to locate a low-level magic practitioner, Oleg Karkarov. The wizards believe Oleg is a direct descendant of Grigori Rasputin, and that Oleg’s blood can save the young tsar’s life.
As the trio journey through an altered America, shattered into several countries by the assassination of Franklin Roosevelt and the Great Depression, they’re set on by enemies. It’s clear that a powerful force does not want them to succeed in their mission. Lizbeth Rose is a gunnie who has never failed a client, but her oath will test all of her skills and resolve to get them all out alive.
Western, Science Fiction/Fantasy, Urban Fantasy
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I started the audiobook of this one when it first came out. I did not get to finish before it was due back at the library (I couldn’t renew because of the hold list) and I never finished it. It’s one that every now and then, I’ll look into starting again because, like you, Sookie Stackhouse series is one of my foundational paranormal series. You make the case very well above and I’m intrigued enough to give this one another go. The first three in the series are discounted in graphic audio on Chirp.
@Lara, I’m curious. Have you read Aurora Teagarden or Lily Bard, two series Charlene Harris wrote before Sookie Stackhouse?
I’ve enjoyed this series. It’s different from a lot of other things I read. I will say I was slightly disappointed in book 4 because the main character becomes someone introduced in earlier books and I just didn’t find her as compelling to read about. Still I see that there is a book 5 coming out this year and I will check it out. I’ve borrowed all of them from the library and I wouldn’t call them keepers but definitely worth a library trip.
@LML Sorry it’s taken me so long to get back to you. I haven’t read the Aurora Teagarden or Lily Bard books yet and for two reasons. 1) my library has an incomplete set of both and, more importantly, 2) I loved Sookie Stackhouse so much and I really enjoyed this book, so it ups the ante for her other books. Like the anticipation is too much and so I avoid them… seems illogical, I know
Romance interuptus is Harris’ bread and butter. You can’t have read any of her series and thought HAE about to be had. Thankfully, Gunnie is less.. indecisive? naive? unlucky? about love than Sookie or Aurora. These books are (until book 4) more about Gunnie’s journey than Gunnie falling in love. She has a lot of real estate to cover before she can open herself up to that level of trust. Not that she doesn’t. I have loved this one from the start. It’s one of the few paranormal series that I read religiously. Yes, lots of violence, but more difficult for me is the whole the South didn’t lose the war thing. Alternative history is full of What If questions that can put you firmly in uncomfortable intellectual pursuit territory. Which is, of course, part of the purpose of the genre. I agree about book 4, but I think my issue was Felicia’s age. I’m a little done with teenage heroines. It was still a good read. Looking forward to book 5.