Serendipity “Pity” Jones lives on the 87th farming commune with her abusive jerk of a father and her equally jerkish brothers. It is after the Second Civil War, The United Patriot Front lost, The Confederation of America won, and Pity’s late alcoholic mother was on the losing side. When her father announces he’s selling her off as a fertile bride to a mining commune, she runs away with nothing but the perfect aim and pair of six shooters she inherited from her mother and her best friend, Finn, headed for the east. Only life throws them a fast one and things start to take a turn, setting the destination to Cessation, a town far to the west where not only can CONA not reach Pity, but it also is known for a lack of law . Thankfully, Pity finds some form of security through Casimir, a grand building that is many things, like a casino, at once, ran by a woman named Selene, whose word is law in Cessation. She soon lands a job as a new act at Casimir’s theatre, which features talents ranging from acrobat to knife throwing. She makes tons of new friends, gets to nourish her sharpshooting to its full potential, and meets Max, a stagehand who make her heart flutter. She should be happy; but this is Cessation, where killing is the norm and its laws decided by one woman, who Pity still needs to fully prove herself too if she has any hope of staying. When the darker aspects of the theatre become more clear and a sinister plot begins to convey itself, Pity must decide for herself what is righteous justice, and what is murderous vengeance.
I really loved this book. At first I thought this was just going to have a typical old western setting, but it turned into something much more creative then that, taking place in a time in the future that resembles an old western by drawing parallels and similarities to it. At the same time though, I feel like there is some wasted potential. Some questions involving the setting’s backstory are still left unanswered, and, with the current lore, I see so much more potential for further world building and more stories to come from it. At the same time however, I am wholly satisfied with the way the main story and plot itself ends and feel like a sequel would be really unnecessary. I am so incredibly conflicted. On a negative note, there are a few characters here and there who I felt that could be handled better in terms of their impact on the story and their foreshadowing about their relations to certain people.
There are so many different memorable moments in this book it would be hard for me to choose on as an example. I will say this, I like the ending, it felt simple and realistic, yet satisfying.
Reviewed by Dahlia, Grade 9, Twin Hickory Library