I discovered this book through other author contacts sharing Hayley Stone’s posts on twitter and I immediately thought it would be right up my alley. I’ve heard some others in the book industry suggest that westerns as a genre, are dead, but I don’t think that’s true. There are a bunch of great, modern works that follow the western genre, that people have really enjoyed. Example? Logan. There’s also Pretty Deadly, Dark Valley, and a really weird one, Bad Batch. The western isn’t dead, it’s just branching out. I, for one, think weird westerns are where it’s at.Make Me No Grave is told from the point of view of a US Marshal, Apostle Richardson, on the hunt for a deadly female outlaw, Almena Guillory, the Grizzly Queen. When he finds her, he quickly discovers he’s bitten off more than he can chew. Not only is she smart and dangerous, but a lynch mob quickly forms to take care of her before the law can. This is just the tip of the iceberg of obstacles Apostle must face while trying to bring the Grizzly Queen to justice, the least of which is not her strange and rather frightening flesh magic abilities.
Fantasy Meets Historical Fiction
The story is far more about the characters and their effort to overcome personal and external obstacles than it is about magical systems or a secret world history (though that definitely plays a huge part).
It’s About the People
Watching these two banter and play off of each other, while forming a relationship that gets deeper and deeper was half the fun of reading this book. It’s romantic, but it’s not silly or overly gooey, which I totally appreciated.
Make Me No Grave hits all the targets for me. It visits the good western tropes like gun slinging, train robberies, desperate stand offs… the list goes on. But it keeps it all interesting with the unique magical flavor and best of all, uses good character development as a base of the story, so it never gets thin or boring.
As of this article, Hayley Stone is working on the sequel. I am definitely looking forward to its release.
Bechdel Test: Pass