Sunday, December 06, 2020

My Calamity Jane, by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows

In this hilarious piece of historical fiction (stressing the latter), Calamity Jane and Wild Bill Hickok's Traveling Show are pulling off trick shots and impressing the locals.  But on the side, they are secretly hunting down "garou" (i.e., werewolves, to the like of you and me).  Wild Bill and the gang are on the hunt for the legendary Alpha who is organizing the garou.  And when a stranger comes to town and announces that she means to join them, they aren't too thrilled for the company or the attention.  But this new girl Annie is quite the shooter and, by the end of it all, we've heard just about every variant of "Annie, get your gun!" that we will ever need to.

Their initial attempt to crack a garou ring in Cincinnati goes bad and (for various different reasons) they find themselves in Deadwood, confronting the Alpha, where all is not quite as it seems.  Jane, at the center of the story, finds that the fight is far more of a family affair than she anticipated.  Annie learns that you can indeed get a man with a gun.

I might have been better prepared if I had read the first two books in the Jane series, but there's no greater test of a serial than picking it up mid-stride and seeing if it can work.  For the most part it does.  I tend to break into hives when I find out that the book in my hands runs past page 320, but I managed to stick with this one through all 516 pages even if my interest flagged a bit in the last hundred or so.  Hand, Ashton, and Meadows all have well-developed literary careers that tend towards contemporary romances and romantic fantasy.  In this project they've downplayed the romance and a sassy alt-history that combines random historical facts, tremendous license, and lots of nudging and winking pop cultural references and anachronisms.  Driving all of this (and definitely essential for keeping things moving briskly) is a constant Greek Chorus of side comments that help to remind you that this is all intended to be silly fun.

No comments: