ARC Review: The Damnation Affair by Lilith Saintcrow

ARC Review: The Damnation Affair by Lilith Saintcrow
Book 1.5 in the Bannon & Clare series
Book provided by NetGalley and Orbit Books
Released: December 1, 2012

The West is a wild place, where the poison wind blows and the dead walk. But there is gold, and whiskey, and enough room for a man to forget what he once was–until he can no longer can.

Jack Gabriel’s been the sheriff in Damnation almost since the town grew out of the dust and the mud. He keeps the peace–sort of–and rides the circuit every dawn and dusk with the chartermage, making sure the wilderness doesn’t seep into their fragile attempt at civilization. Away from the cities clinging to the New World’s eastern rim, he doesn’t remember what he was. At least, he tries not to. Good enough.

But Damnation is growing, and along comes a schoolmarm. Catherine Barrowe is a right proper Boston miss, and it’s a mystery why she would choose this town where everything scandalous and dangerous is probably too much for a quality lady like her. Sometimes the sheriff wonders why she came out West–because everyone who does is running from something. He doesn’t realize Cat may be prickly, delicate, and proper, but she is also determined. She’s in Damnation to find her wayward older brother Robbie, whose letters were full of dark hints about gold, trouble…and something about a claim.

In a West where charm and charter live alongside clockwork and cold steel, where hot lead kills your enemy but it takes a blessing to make his corpse stay down, Cat will keep digging until she finds her brother. If Jack knew what she was after, he could solve the mystery–because he was the one who killed Robbie.

The thing is, Cat’s brother just won’t stay dead, and the undead are rising with him…

AH’s Review – 4 Skulls – A-

What a surprisingly entertaining read! Magic, the Wild West, and zombies combine to create a fast-paced, edge of your seat exciting book.

The Damnation Affair takes place in the New World, in the dusty and desolate Wild West town of Damnation. (Isn’t that just a great name for a Wild West town?) This book is part of Lilith Saintcrow’s Bannon & Clare series and is available as an ebook right now, with a paperback edition available at the beginning of February. It’s the same world as Bannon & Clare, the same magic, but it has a raw, lawless Western feel to it.

I devoured this book. I literally could not put it down. I adored the main characters. Catherine Barrowe Brown or Cat left her privileged life as a society lady in Boston to become the town of Damnation’s schoolmarm. Cat had ulterior motives; she was searching for her missing brother Robert. Sheriff Jack Gabriel is one of those no-nonsense western sheriffs – strong, rugged, and fiercely protective of his town. Sheriff Jack is also hiding a few secrets of his own and the town is a perfect place to hide out. The sheriff takes Cat under his protection and arranges for her to share a small home with Li-Ang, a young and very pregnant Chinoise woman. Li-Ang is also a force to be reckoned with, and she too has her secrets.

The steampunk elements in this book are mild and mostly in the background. The magical elements were intriguing. Magic or mancy is found everywhere in this world and some people have special talents for controlling the magic. Chartermages cast their magic to protect the people around them by keeping the wilderness and the dangers of the wilderness (namely zombies) away from the town. Special charter stones are placed outside the town as well. Cat had a Practicality for Light, meaning that she could create sparks of light. Daily tasks have some sort of mancy to ensure that the drudgery work would be done.

The narrative was well paced and there was a point where I didn’t know what was scarier – the townspeople, the undead, or that mysterious thing in the mines. Yes, there was a scary monster in the mines. A little ode to Stephen King, but awesome nonetheless.

The Damnation Affair was a pleasant surprise for me. I really wasn’t wowed by The Iron Wyrm Affair and I was hesitant to read this book. I’m glad I gave this series a second chance. I’m now looking forward to reading more books in this series, especially The Red Plague Affair coming out in late May of 2013.

Rating: ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠ 

Series Reading Order:

1. The Iron Wyrm Affair
2. The Damnation Affair (1.5)
3. The Red Plague Affair (May 21, 2013)

Thank you to NetGalley and Orbit Books for a review copy of this book.

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