Kathy Davie's Reviews > Dead Reckoning

Dead Reckoning by Mercedes Lackey
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Aug 09, 12

bookshelves: steampunk, young-adult
Read in June, 2012

A steampunk Western for young adults.


My Take
Interesting comment Lackey and Edghill made that once people went West, they tended to ignore the law—after all, who would see or hold them to account.

It's an interesting trio of protagonists. Jett Gallantin is fleeing the devastation of the South in the wake of losing the Civil War and hunting for her brother while White Fox is a man straddling two worlds acting in the role of a protecter. Honoria Gibbons is a scientist using her father's susceptibility to indulge herself. Together, they take down a silent scourge.

The enemy is both a cliché and insane. Using people's gullibility with regards to religion and threat, Brother Shepherd is destroying lives for his own foul purposes.

It's religion and greed versus steampunk science, a desire to protect, and sheer anger.

Loose thread: Whatever happened after Jett got shot up with elixir?? Doesn't it have any effect on her?


The Story
Jett Gallantin has been searching throughout the West for the past two years now. Looking for her twin brother, his whereabouts lost by the end of Mr. Lincoln's War. It's strictly chance that finds Jett fleeing a town under attack by zombies. It's strictly luck that Jett finds White Fox at Gibbons' camp.

It could be fate that has brought both women together with information that enables White Fox to discover that a number of seemingly separate events are actually one.

Together, the three of them discover the truth behind Brother Shepherd's plans. Talk about your Dr. Loveless and a Wild, Wild West!


The Characters
Jett Gallantin was once a girl, a twin who played the "boy" in her childhood adventures with her brother. Now those days of play keep her safe as she roams the West looking for him. Nightingale was to have been her brother's horse and the stud for a herd of the most incredible horses. Now, they're partners.

White Fox was the only survivor of a wagon train massacre. Taken in and raised by the Meshwahkihaki, he now works as a civilian scout for the Tenth Cavalry at Fort Riley in Kansas. Deerfoot is his horse. Caleb Lincoln is a soldier there and he has concerns about his family in Glory Rest.

Honoria Verity Providence Gibbons is a Scientist and a Skeptic with a preference for Rational Dress. She knows everything and isn't afraid to tell you. She's running around the West with her Auto-Tachysode which is fueled by steam and armed with a trio of Gatling guns. Jacob Saltinstall Gibbons is a free-thinker and an easy touch for every con artist. Honoria sees it as her job to investigate those who try to scam her father. Well, it makes a great excuse for Honoria to avoid polite society anyway. Her mother was Maire Caithlen, an Irish maid in Jacob's father's house. Dr. Rupert Arthur Gordon is his dear friend in San Francisco and he tries to keep the local touch reduced.

Finlay Maxwell is Alsop's town drunk and he holds the key to events.

Jerusalem's Wall, once known as the Lazy J, is where Jett finds Sister Agatha; the Fellowship of the Divine Resurrection; the bitchy Brother Raymond; Sister Catherine who is praying Brother Shepherd will cure her son David—her husband, Henry, had other plans; and, the duplicitous Brother Shepherd, a.k.a., George Wilson Shepherd, the lazy middle son of a farmer who sought a better life with the equally holy Brothers Saul and Nathan.


The Cover
The cover is a cross between warm and terrifying as White Fox, looking more like a contemporary, short-haired male in his brown T-shirt and jeans---setting aside his black hat—while Jett certainly looks all-woman in her all-black with a decidedly lopsided gun belt—not the way she wears it in the story with Gibbons bringing up the rear, her blonde hair pulled high up into a bun and wearing some kind of burnt orange Rational Dress. To the left, coming up from behind is a zombie couple: he in white shirtsleeves and she in a long dark dress. it looks like they're on the prairie and that brown wind-whipped sky seems fixin' to storm. Be sure to check out the back cover—they had to put the rest of their zombie army somewhere!

The title is both the Dead Reckoning Brother Shepherd visits on all in his path as well as the final accounting.
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