Wednesday, June 1, 2016

[Review] Revenge and the Wild by Michelle Modesto

Revenge and the Wild by Michelle Modesto
Version: HC
Rating: 3 stars
Published: February 2nd 2016
Goodreads Synopsis:
The two-bit town of Rogue City is a lawless place, full of dark magic and saloon brawls, monsters and six-shooters. But it’s perfect for seventeen-year-old Westie, the notorious adopted daughter of local inventor Nigel Butler.
Westie was only a child when she lost her arm and her family to cannibals on the wagon trail. Nine years later, Westie may seem fearsome with her foul-mouthed tough exterior and the powerful mechanical arm built for her by Nigel, but the memory of her past still haunts her. She’s determined to make the killers pay for their crimes—and there’s nothing to stop her except her own reckless ways.
But Westie’s search ceases when a wealthy family comes to town looking to invest in Nigel’s latest invention, a machine that can harvest magic from gold—which Rogue City desperately needs as the magic wards that surround the city start to fail. There’s only one problem: the investors look exactly like the family who murdered Westie’s kin. With the help of Nigel’s handsome but scarred young assistant, Alistair, Westie sets out to prove their guilt. But if she’s not careful, her desire for revenge could cost her the family she has now.

I don't know how I feel about this Western-steampunk magic, creature, Native American-esque book. Now try saying that 5 times fast. There was a lot in this book, and I wasn't sure if I liked all of it. Part of it was confusing, part of it was corny, and part of it was too much. Here is why.

So Westie lives with her adopted father Nigel Butler, after she was found by Bena and the Wintu tribe when her family was eaten by cannibals many years ago. She did not survive the cannibal encounter unscathed, however; she wears a metal arm in place of a real one. Alistair also lives with Nigel, and has faced similar demons; because his throat was bitten, he can only speak with a mask on, making him mute without it. 

They live in Rogue City, where creaturekind and humankind coexist in harmony - mostly. But as time goes on, the magic protecting the two groups is wearing down and weakening. Nigel hopes that his machine can fix it, and a mysterious family appears in town, the Fairfields, to sponsor his machine. But there's something suspicious about them, and Westie believes they may be the ones who ate her family, so it's up to her, Alistair, and her friends to figure out the mystery. 

The premise of this story is cool; and the underlying message is as well. The Westernization and expansion of the West drastically alters the natural environment, and its reflected in the magic of Rogue City, and the creatures. 

Westie herself is also an imperfect character. Her actions may be unlikeable (and she occasionally got on my nerves), but she made mistakes. She was impulsive and rash. Drinking a vampire's blood to cure her alcoholism so she can go to the ball and research the Fairfields? (That's a mouthful) Going all the way to California to find out who the Fairfields really are? She's stubborn and determined, and she got that going for her.

She was the more developed character in this story. I didn't really get the other characters and their motivations. I didn't even realize Alistair was mute until 2/3 of the story. Or how his mask worked.

The whole romance between them. It just struck me as corny. The sign-language between them, okay, cute. The nickname of "Alley", a little bit cringey. And then lines like these -
With each touch of his lips, her dead heart was galvanized as though being woken from centuries of black sleep. 
Moving on.

On the note of what was going on... What was going on? I can't really tell. I don't know why vampires run brothels or why orges and dwarves and elves spend their time drinking at the bar or how exactly Alistair spoke with his mask if it went on his face, not his throat...? There was too much going on. Costin had a thing for Westie? Olive was a scalp collector? Bena liked Nigel? A bunch of plots and magic thrown in here does not necessarily make a better story.

I haven't exactly hit the mark with the steampunk genre, this being the second book that confused me. If you read Revenge and the Wild, what did you think? Do you have any recommendations for a steampunk book?

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