All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Review: An Easy Death by Charlaine Harris

on January 24, 2019

An Easy Death (Gunnie Rose #1)
Charlaine Harris
Saga Press (Simon & Schuster)
2018, 306p
Read from my local library

Blurb {from the publisher/}:

In a new trilogy that presents a chilling alternate history of the United States where everyone believes in magic—but no one is sure whether they can trust it.

Gunnie Lizbeth Rose has been hired by a pair of Russian sorcerers as both their local guide and muscle through the small towns of East Texas as they search for a distant relative of an infamous sorcerer whose bloodline can help save their emperor-in-exile as an ever-increasing number of assassins tries to stop them.

After the assassination of FDR in the 1930s, the US collapses and is picked off by the UK, Canada, Mexico, and Russia. We find ourselves in the southwestern states now known as Texoma. It is here that the gunnie Lizbeth Rose tries to piece out a life, running security on runs from Texoma, across the border to Mexico where work and prospects are stronger. When two Russian magicians come looking for a man named Alex Karkarov, they hire Lizbeth to find him or his family, but there are problems: The man they’re looking for is dead, but he has a daughter they now need to find, as an ever-growing set of sorcerers and gunnies do not want them to succeed. It’s a good thing Lizbeth is a deadly gunfighter; too bad she hates sorcerers, even the ones she has to learn to rely on.

I picked this up on a whim from a display at my local library when I was in picking up books I’d requested. I have only read one series by Charlaine Harris and I didn’t finish it – the Southern Vampire Mysteries/Sookie Stackhouse books. I loved it for the first 10 or so books. I remember I bought the first 6 or 8 in a box set and binged them over 4-5 days. And I enjoyed the first few seasons of True Blood, the HBO adaptation. But around book 11 or so, I think the series started to fall apart for me and I still am yet to read the last 2 books, although I do own them. But I know how the series ends and the ending wasn’t my preferred ending and I really don’t feel the need to bother right now. Maybe one day in the future I’ll pick those last 2 books up. But considering Charlaine Harris assassinated the character of my favourite person in the books steadily over the last few volumes, I doubt it.

So this is a new series, set in a fractured America after the assassination of Franklin D. Roosevelt and a vicious strain of influenza wiped out not only the Vice President but also a good deal of the population. That left their armed forces weak and a bunch of other countries swept in and took great chunks of America for themselves. Canada took a bite out of the north. A few eastern states banded together and randomly swore allegiance back to Britain. The southern states became Dixie. Mexico encroached from the south. And for some reason, a Russian Tsar came along and took a part of the west coast.

Lisbeth Rose, a 19yo woman lives in the part of America now called Texoma, an amalgamation of parts of Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado and New Mexico. She makes her living as a ‘gunnie’, running with a crew who take people from Texoma across the border to a more prosperous Mexico where jobs and food are easier to come by. It’s her job to pick off bandits before they attack but when her entire crew is lost on a disastrous run, that leaves Lisbeth at a loss. So she accepts a job from two Russians magicians referred to as Grigori. The Russians are often viewed with suspicion in other parts of this fractured America – Harris rewrites history to save the Russian Tsar and evacuate him and his entire family to the western coast of old America, which they take over and establish as the HRE – Holy Russian Empire. The two Russians, a woman named Paulina and a man named Eli, are searching for a particular man and his brother who can help their Tsar.

The biggest problem I had with this book is that it’s really slow. They’re travelling in a car for the most part, Lisbeth and the 2 Russians, but everything has to be examined – what Lisbeth wears, what guns she has, when she cleans them, what they eat, what every hotel room looks like, what every person looks like that tries to kill them, even what most people they just talk to in passing are like. It feels a very clinical telling, like Lisbeth honestly doesn’t have much of a personality other than being a stone cold killer. I don’t really detect any hints of affection from her to anyone in her life – not her lost lover, not the mother that raised her in difficult circumstances, not her stepfather, not the man she falls into bed with on this trip. She’s great with weapons, she’s super aware of her surroundings but that doesn’t stop her nearly dying every five pages. I also felt like the history was dolled out in really random spurts, like it would’ve been a bit better to get a clearer idea of what had happened. Lisbeth’s mother is a teacher, she’s educated and she gives the bare basics but not…..why. Why did Canada decide to help itself to a large portion of the north? It’s not like they have a reputation for that sort of thing or there had been border wars or whatever. Why did the eastern states return to British rule? Why did they pick the old California as the new Holy Russian Empire? It’s about as different from the Motherland as you can get. It’s this kind of vague thing in the background that isn’t explored enough for me.

The story felt a bit circular, like we were just repeating the same scenario over and over again – travelling to a new town, securing accomodation without raising too much suspicion, someone trying to kill them, searching for new information, leaving for a new town, repeat. This isn’t a long book – just over 300p but honestly, it took me almost 3 days to read it. I just felt like I wasn’t really getting anywhere a lot of the time, kept putting it down. One of those days I was actually out all day but it was the sort of book where I’d read 20-50p and then be like ok, that’s enough. Finally I sat down on Tuesday and was like, I just have to finish this book so I can move on. Find another book. And to be honest, the story never really picked up for me. It was the same flat level of storytelling the entire way through, which kept me disconnected from it. I was never really invested in Lisbeth and especially not invested in her and Eli, which is so random and felt really awkward, the way it was inserted into the plot.

Lisbeth doesn’t have the charm or likability that Sookie had, nor do any of the supporting characters have the easy mix of the Southern Vampire Mysteries. It’s hard not to compare an author’s series’ books but I do know that the first book in the Sookie series hooked me immediately, so much so that I read a bunch of them in a very small amount of time. This one? Did not. If I had a bunch of other books in this series, I probably wouldn’t even bother to read them. I can’t really see where it’s going to be honest and it doesn’t excite me. The world could’ve been more interesting I think, but I just didn’t really find it that well done. Like these things happened but meh, that’s all we are going to mention. I haven’t really read many Westerns or gunslinger type novels and perhaps there’s a reason for that – just not my thing I guess.


Book #14 of 2019

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