The Hespyrian West is a place for legends and lawless men. Here, Jae Oldridge works as a bounty hunter, getting by with her wits, her magic map, and not much else. At seventeen, she hunts not for money or glory, but to find her missing father—kidnapped by ghost riders three years back.
When a saloon brawl brings Jae to the enigmatic Harney gang, she feigns interest in assisting them, hoping to turn them in later on. Survivors of the Arrowwood War, the gang pillages silver, without interest in much else… and no one knows why. The gang is led by two brothers: the stern, commanding Halston and headstrong, fiery Hodge. Joining them is an aristocrat-turned-outlaw, a rugged, snake-skinned Azmarian, and a young storyteller with a mysterious past.
Trekking across the wilderness, the group encounters warlocks, monsters, and gunfights in the service of Sterling Byrd: the gang’s crooked boss. Jae learns that the gang is not what they seem. They also stand on a razor’s edge; not just with the law, but with Sterling himself. Jae finds herself growing closer to the Harneys… especially Halston.
Staying with the gang could lead Jae to a noose’s end, but Halston harbors a secret that could change her life forever. It is then Jae learns that her loyalties—wherever they may lie—do not come without a price.
Graves for Drifters and Thieves is a Western inspired fantasy with a cast of interesting characters, a compelling quest and promising writing from a new voice in Y/A Fantasy. I was approached by the author, Sophia Minetos in exchange for an review, but rest assured I’ll be as honest and unbiased as ever!
One of the biggest draws of this novel would have to be the writing itself, Minetos’ writing is fresh and succinct. I liked the balance the author strikes between description and action, moving the plot pieces along and bringing it together. The pacing itself didn’t really work for me, the book is pretty long coming in around 874 pages and even as far as halfway through major parts of the plot weren’t even underway. I think the novel would have benefitted from way more editing to make this pacing issue less glaring and keep my interest, because at times it did feel like a bit of a long slog.
I thought Jae was an interesting choice as the protagonist and the first chapter definitely worked well in hooking me in. We first encounter Jae as a young girl, on a regular day with her father until it all goes horribly wrong and he disappears, the book then skips forward a number of years till Jae is around seventeen and now a seasoned bounty hunter. Jae’s life has revolved around getting enough money and resources to work her way to the Rangers, the only group who could possibly find her father. I liked Jae, she was an understated, smart and intriguing protagonist and I liked that she changed and opened up once she met the Harney gang, learning that she has to trust and work with them and can’t always maintain her, ‘me against the world’ mentality.
I also liked the Harney Gang; consisting of Halston, Hodge, Lorelin and Gryff. They each have their ‘role’ in the gang, with Halston being at the helm as their self appointed leader, Hodge and Gryff being good in a fight and Lorelin good at getting the intel needed for their various heists. I enjoyed reading the interactions between the different characters and getting to know about each of their backstories. I especially liked Lorelin and her backstory, it reminded me a little of the story of Kissin Kate Barlow from Holes by Louis Sacher with the whole escaping from trauma to a life of freedom, with a sprinkling of crime.
Overall, Graves for Drifters and Thieves was a good read and with a bit more polish, it could have been even better. I would recommend this to readers looking for a unique Y/A read with plenty of character and fresh talent in spades.
Until next time,