In the interest of full disclosure, I received a free e-copy of The Devil’s Revolver for the purposes of review. That doesn’t change my opinions, but I probably wouldn’t have read this/been aware of it otherwise. Just in case that counts as influence for some.
American western meets fantasy is a fun world that The Devil’s Revolver drops us into. We meet Hettie Alabama, a 17-year-old young woman preparing to enter a shooting competition to earn her family some money. She lives with her parents, her younger sister Abby, and “Uncle” Jeramiah.
Things haven’t been easy for the family. Hettie’s older brother, Paul, died protecting her from knife-wielding stranger years earlier. Money is tight. And perhaps most concerning for Hettie is Abby’s habit of slipping out of the house to wander down to the river to talk with friends no one else can see or hear. Such a habit is soon to garner unwanted attention.
Hettie can’t do much about two of those things, but she is a talented shooter. She enters the competition, determine to tackle the money issue. Little does she know, however, that this decision will set into motion a chain of events that will lead her all over the West with a revolver that doesn’t miss, doesn’t run out of ammo, and doesn’t shoot without a cost.
McGrath does a splendid job introducing us to the rules of this world without any kind of exposition dump. Within a few pages, we learn that magic is a regular part of life, but not everyone is gifted. Most people use talismans and protection spells, but those cost money. A government division seeks out children who show signs of being gifted, another concern for Hettie. It seems clear that Abby has some kind of power, but no one in the family wants to risk her coming onto the government’s radar. There are magical monsters roaming the terrain and plenty of human ones as well. Aside from the magic, though, much of the rest is familiar to any Westerns fans.
I really liked the character of Hettie. While a talented shooter and a dedicated sister, she also still acts like most seventeen-year-olds. There were a few situations where she makes choices that, as a reader, we can see are tricky or a trap, but if it was me at 17 and I didn’t know I was a heroine in a book, I would’ve likely done the exact same. She can be rash and hot-headed, but her heart is in the right place, even with a demon-possessed revolver in hand. The other characters that move into her orbit are fun and interesting as well, but Hettie is definitely my favorite.
There are some aspects of the world and the titular revolver that remain unexplained or feel a bit underdeveloped, but I think it’s because this is just the first book in a series and you have to leave some questions and loose ends for the next story to take.
Overall, this was a fun read with interesting characters and a cool take on Westerns. Worth checking out!