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Silver on the Road (The Devil's West #1)

3.84  ·  Rating Details ·  1,157 Ratings  ·  266 Reviews
A heroic fantasy by an award-winning author about a young woman who is trained in the art of the sinister hand of magic, but at what price?

On her sixteenth birthday, Isobel makes the choice to work for the devil in his territory west of the Mississippi. But this is not the devil you know. This is a being who deals fairly with immense—but not unlimited—power, who offers opp
Kindle Edition, 400 pages
Published October 6th 2015 by Saga Press
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Laura Gilman The best answer I can give to this is "yes, it does, yes, it is the Sangre de Cristo, keeping in mind that they didn't have particularly accurate…moreThe best answer I can give to this is "yes, it does, yes, it is the Sangre de Cristo, keeping in mind that they didn't have particularly accurate mapping over long distances, and were working with multiple names for the same features, due to overlapping cultures."

Also, geologic shifts, and an awareness that this isn't EXACTLY our world...

Flood is, more or less, where the geographic center of the lower 48 US falls, both because it suited my sense of the story and the devil's sense of whimsy, and because it tickled my fannish funny bone (points to you if you know why!)(less)
Laura Gilman The publisher has declined to do an audiobook, so other possibilities are being looked at. As soon as we know something, I'll get word out!

Community Reviews

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I absolutely loved this book. It was just what I was looking for, weirdly enough: a western dark fantasy. Not often do you find something that just perfectly suits your reading tastes, but this was it for me! (And just to note, I'm only giving it 4 stars because I think books should improve over the course of a series, so I'm giving it room to grow.)

The world Gilman created is huge and complex, but feels very worn-in and very real. This is our world, but with a different overlay of mythology tha
Jul 14, 2016 Lindsay rated it liked it
Wonderful world-building with an interesting heroine growing into the position that she's been given.

In this world, an alternate American west, the Devil has claimed a Territory encompassing the midwest of North America, and all within it must hold to his Agreement or their own Bargains. It's not clear that this is the biblical Devil, but the analogy fits and he doesn't seem to mind the name. Isobel was brought up in the Devil's house and after her sixteenth birthday she makes a Bargain with him
Aug 01, 2016 Justine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
"The right hand gathers and gives, visible to all. But the left hand, Isobel, the manu sinistra? It moves in shadows, unseen, unheard...until I deem it time for it to be seen and heard. And when it moves, its work cannot be undone. It is the strength of the Territory, the quick knife in the darkness, the cold eye and the final word."

Sixteen year old Isobel has lived her entire life in the town of Flood, at the centre of the Territory, the area claimed and protected by the devil. It is bounded by
I follow Ms. Gilman on both Facebook and Twitter and had been seeing snippets of this story as she was working on it. When she offered review copies, I jumped at the opportunity as she's one of my favorite fantasy authors. She did not disappoint.

"Silver on the Road" was a fresh take on the hero's journey, a teen's growing up, and having your wish granted. Despite having been raised by the devil, and seeing him in action close up, the bargain Izzy makes ends up costing her in ways she didn't ant
3.5 stars. Spare, lovely writing, and an intriguing setting, but an extremely slow story without much resolution.
Mar 09, 2016 Stephanie rated it really liked it
Shelves: f-sf-for-adults
This is a slow-paced but lovely fantasy novel, set in an alternate version of the 19th-century American west, in which the Devil staked his own territory centuries earlier and the rest of the territorial borders have shifted around that. The heroine, Izzy, is a sixteen-year-old coming of age and coming into her own as the Devil's Left Hand, traveling the roads of her boss's territory with a mentor who has magical issues of his own.

I picked up Silver on the Road after reading Rachel Neumeier's r
Oct 27, 2015 Loren rated it liked it
If I could, I'd give this 3.5 stars. The world-building is wonderful. The writing is lovely. The major characters are interesting. Unfortunately, the book falls apart in the plot. Terrible things are happening in the Territory, but Isobel -- the Devil's Hand -- is always too late to see them occur. Often, she isn't even allowed to see the aftermath. When she does, the encounters never appear in the text.

Throughout the story, things happen to other people, but not to Isobel. At the very end, when
Beth Cato
Nov 17, 2015 Beth Cato rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, historical, 2015
I have seen this labeled as a Weird Western, and I understand why: it's definitely not a historical old west tale. It's alternate history that endows the middle of America with a sort of mystical sentience. The feel is folkloric. There is action, but it's not a thriller. It steadily moves in a way that is fascinating and soothing.

Silver on the Road is a coming of age story of sorts for Isobel. She's a good heroine; a good person, period, who asked for a job and had no idea what she was granted.
Rachel Neumeier
Mar 04, 2016 Rachel Neumeier rated it it was amazing
Overall rating: Five out of five, obviously, and heading for a pretty good run at a ten out of ten. I’m very much looking forward to the second book, which I presume is coming out this year.

So, let me tell you about SILVER ON THE ROAD.

First, the primary protagonist: Izzy. Izzy – Isabel – is definitely a perfect YA protagonist. She just turned sixteen and this story is all about her journey to figure out who she is and what her place in the world might be. This is a story about a girl taking her
May 20, 2016 Casey rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, 2010s, western
Silver in the West didn't really grab me, but I liked the main character. It felt like much of the plot was empty, just like the expanse of land the characters are traveling. Based on the reviews, seems like I read a different book than most readers, as I didn't like this one so much.

Izzy lives in a town called Flood, out in the land that we know as the Louisiana Purchase. The exact timepoint is not clear, but it's in the 1800s for sure, based on the map in the book and the setting.

Izzy has been
Kimberly [Come Hither Books]
Silver on the Road delivers an original fantasy in the endless plains and arid foothills of the Old West. If you like a western setting, you’ll love. Landscapes are perfectly rendered and beautifully described. The grammar and prose is just rural enough to feel natural, without ever leaving you to decipher chicken scratch dialogue. You’ll get a feel for life on the road, from the sway in the saddle to the daily rituals of camp and campfire.

But it’s not just the stunning setting that makes Silver
Sami Privitor
"You don’t say good-bye,” he told her. “Not unless it’s the last farewell. The road curves on itself, and you’ll turn around and there she’ll be again, maybe tomorrow, maybe ten years from now."

I hate that I couldn't get into this, because a fantasy novel set in the American West during the colonizing period could have been so intriguing and good, what with the different ethnicities all gathered in a struggle to claim and maintain American lands, the Natives fighting to keep their lands and to s
Kathy (Kindle-aholic)
Dec 28, 2015 Kathy (Kindle-aholic) rated it it was amazing
Shelves: western-fantasy
Fantastic book! 5 stars because I started this book and was not swayed to start any of the other books in my massive to read piles. These days, a book that keeps my interest away from all of the other shiny pretty things on my kindle gets highest marks.

Western fantasy set in the Devil's West, a strange, mystical place claimed by the Old Man, the boss, the maker of deals, gambler. The world is really interesting, a mystical place set between the northern fur trappers, the fledgling United States,
Rachel Blackman
Aug 31, 2015 Rachel Blackman rated it it was amazing
This book didn't read to me like Gilman's usual work; it felt less like a novel, and more a folk-tale told in an almost lyrical manner. You can easily imagine it being told around a campfire, somewhere on a trail through the Devil's West. Like an oral history related by a storyteller.

I won't spoil anything in the way of the plot, but it's clear there's a well-thought-out mythology behind the Devil's West. Despite this, you don't get any sort of exposition or "info dump" about it; even by the end
Nov 12, 2015 Casey rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, adult, new-adult, 2015
I am waffling a bit between 3 and 4 stars for this one. Ultimately I have decided to round up. Before I say why I am rounding up, the main reason I was considering 3 stars is that the pacing is very slow. Meandering might be a good word for it. I typically binge books. It usually takes me 2-3 days at the very most to read a book but this book took me about 2.5 weeks. I couldn't read it book when I was too tired or there were too many distractions. The description tells us that the main character ...more
Jaime Moyer
Sep 11, 2016 Jaime Moyer rated it it was amazing
Shelves: owned-books
There are books I have a hard time reviewing because I don't want to spoil them. Silver On The Road is one of those books. I will try to do more than gush "I loved this book!" even though I did love this book.

Isobel has spent her whole life in the devil's house. The town of Flood is the only home she knows, and all of the world (the Territory) she's ever seen.

On her sixteenth birthday,Izzy becomes an adult, able to make her own decisions. She can stay and work for the devil--make a deal with hi
Annie Talbot
Dec 07, 2015 Annie Talbot rated it it was amazing
Fabulous book. Well plotted, with wonderful, nuanced characters, an entirely believable (and yet fantastic) world, and masterful pacing.

I cannot wait to read the next book in the series! Write, Laura Anne, write!
Aug 14, 2016 Ctgt rated it really liked it
The wind warns of something coming. Something with power. Power and ill intent. We can taste it.

I try not to read too many reviews about a book before I dive in, obviously I want to get a sense of the story but I don't want to know too much. This is one of those occasions when my limited knowledge of a book hindered my initial enjoyment. I came in expecting a rollicking, action packed weird western but ended up with something a little more in depth and thought provoking than I expected.

With my e
Feb 13, 2016 Lauren rated it really liked it
This was a great start to a new fantasy series. Isobel is a good main character and I felt like she was written more realistically then a lot of sixteen year old protagonists that I tend to see in fantasy. Izzy is in the process of trying to figure out what she wants out of life. She is struggling with the fact that although her age declares her officially an adult, she doesn't always feel like one. She doesn't know much about the world outside of her home town, and she doesn't have the ...more
Mar 24, 2016 Sam rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-2016
I actually think this book would have worked wonderfully as a prequel novella introducing the world/characters before a meatier novel came out. It just should have been 100 pages shorter. So much wandering and nothing much happening. Even the big parts of the plot really seem to happen without the main character there. She hears or stumbles upon them after the fact which I think really steal the weight from them. Bad things are happening and we should be worried! But I just wasn't.

The ending fi
Not your ordinary coming-of-age story by a long shot! Isobel is a fascinating character, and I enjoyed the world-building as well. The story is set physically in North America, but in an alternate history where the United States only controls the land east of the Mississippi River, the Spanish control the land west of the Rocky Mountains, and the center of the country is known as "The Territory" and is conrolled by "The Boss", who we are given to understand is the devil.

Isobel's indenture ends
Nov 05, 2015 Rachel rated it it was amazing
A beautiful and compelling story of the Old West. Izzy turns 16, and her indenture to the Devil ends, leaving her free to choose her future. The book presents alternate religious interpretations, a supernatural Old West, and the question of whether the world presented is ours or a different one, and what that means for what will come next. It's mildly reminiscent of Bujold's Sharing Knife series, in that a peaceful exploration of philosophy and humanity is interrupted occasionally with the ...more
May 20, 2016 Jo rated it liked it
I enjoyed the world building and magic (medicine) in this book. The rules of the alternate West run by the Old Man (aka the Devil) were interesting and I may come back to the series later to find out more.
The pacing of the book was very slow and unsteady. The moments of action came on extremely fast after long drolls, I often had to look back a couple of pages to see if I missed something in the sudden change.
Mar 21, 2016 Cady rated it it was ok
I was disappointed in this book - it seemed to have everything I like - magical realism, the wild west, strong girl character - but the action was boring and the plot super repetitive. They use the same lines for description over and over. I really wanted to like this one but it took me like 3 renewals to get through and ended with a disjointed and unsatisfying encounter. I'm curious now to go read why it has so many stars...
This book was slow for me. I liked Iz and Gabriel and the story was interesting. So I think the slowness is not just the book's fault, but my own. But, seriously? A giant MF-in' demon otter?! The hell.
Great story. Compelling characters and interesting world. Definitely want to continue on Izzy adventures with her and see how she grows into her role as the Devil's Hand and hopefully also finds herself along the way.
Setting this one aside for now while I wait for the audio. The incredibly slow pace has finally done me in.

* * * * *

VF pick for May, discussions at
Feb 02, 2016 Angela marked it as to-read
Shelves: fantasy, kindle
2 February 2016: $2.99 on Kindle

30 November 2015: $1.99 on Kindle
Feb 19, 2016 Samantha rated it really liked it
Although the fantasy/Western mashup is not new, this is a fun take on it that intersperses theology and alternate history. Solidly written with interesting characters. A very good read.
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By the time she was fourteen, Laura Anne Gilman knew she would be an editor, a teacher, or a writer.

By thirty, she was all three. She's a little focused that way (when not being distracted by -oooh shiny!).

After fifteen years working in NY publishing, Laura Anne became a full-time writer, with more than twenty novels under her various bylines, including the SILVER ON THE ROAD, the Nebula Award-nom
More about Laura Anne Gilman...

Other Books in the Series

The Devil's West (2 books)
  • The Cold Eye (The Devil's West, #2)

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