Read January 2014
Caleb Marcus is a Peacemaker, a roving lawman tasked with maintaining the peace and bringing control to magic users on the frontier. A Peacemaker isn’t supposed to take a life—but sometimes, it’s kill or be killed…
After a war injury left him half-scoured of his power, Caleb and his jackalope familiar have been shipped out West, keeping them out of sight and out of the way of more useful agents. And while life in the wild isn’t exactly Caleb’s cup of tea, he can’t deny that being amongst folk who aren’t as powerful as he is, even in his poor shape, is a bit of a relief.
But Hope isn’t like the other small towns he’s visited. The children are being mysteriously robbed of their magical capabilities. There’s something strange and dark about the local land baron who runs the school. Cheyenne tribes are raiding the outlying homesteads with increasing frequency and strange earthquakes keep shaking the very ground Hope stands on.
Something’s gone very wrong in the Wild West, and it’s up to Caleb to figure out what’s awry before he ends up at the end of the noose—or something far worse…
I liked this steampunk fantasy twist on the Wild West. There’s plenty of action, mystery and the typical bad guy who appears to be a good guy, at least at first, until you start digging deeper (literally). I hope Stewart plans to write more adventures for Caleb and Ernst (his jackalope familiar), as I want to learn more about the Native Americans and their mysterious magical ways.
I love watching westerns but I don’t read them very often. That being said, I did participate in the Kansas City Public Library‘s Big Read last fall and read True Grit, which had some of the best dialogue I’ve ever had the pleasure to read. If Peacemaker has any weak point, it’s the dialogue. I kept hoping for just a bit more wit or sarcasm, some catchy new would-be western or tough guy cliche. Occasionally, a diamond sparkled through the dusty dialogue, so I know the potential is there.
One other minor quibble: If this is an Alternate History version of Kansas and Colorado, I’m a bit confused about the state boundaries. When Kansas was a territory (before it became a state in 1854), it stretched west almost to the Rocky Mountains. Since Caleb is a Civil War Vet, Kansas is a state (or would have been in our world) and its western border is not near enough to the Rocky Mountains for you to see them on the horizon. A little more clarification in the world building portion of the story would have helped ease my native-born Kansas pride.
My thanks to Penguin Group and Netgalley for allowing me to read and review Peacemaker prior to publication (look for it on sale in ebook only next Tuesday, January 21, 2014).