I love Sarah Gailey’s work. I first noticed their byline on Tor.com and grabbed River of Teeth, their debut novella, as soon as it hit the library. I really enjoyed Magic for Liars, their murder mystery set a a magic school with a non-magical detective. Their short story STET was amazing and was the top of my Hugo ballot last year (sadly, it did not win).
So I was really excited when I got a arc of their new novella, Upright Women Wanted, from the Tor booth at New York Comic Con. The book promised horse-riding, gunslinging librarians in a semi-postapolacalyptic Southwest, and it delivered on that promise. While overall enjoyable, I left wanting more world building. I wanted to know more about how the subversive librarian network arose and how they were able to continue to function since the content of the books they distributed was not kept secret. Overall, I found it to be a great character study of the point of view character, a teenage girl who ran away from home because she loved the “wrong” person. However, one note of the protagonist’s characterization did not ring true to me. The protagonist sees her first love hanged in front of her. I would have expected that her emotional devastation would have prevented her from harboring any romantic feelings for anyone for a considerable amount of time while she healed from this trauma. That was not the case during the course of this novella. Maybe it’s because I was never a teenage girl? Maybe it’s because it’s been a long time since I was a teenager? But to me it felt like she got a crush on one of the other characters way too quickly.
Other than that, no complaints. A very enjoyable read. I look forward to their next book!