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Fantasy Western?

May 11, 2013

arrivalsThe Arrivals is a fantasy western.  Let’s just take a moment and look at those words, shall we?  A Fantasy… Western.  Can you think of many other fantasy westerns?  There’s The Dark Tower and…
Ok, so there are some steampunk westerns out there. Railsea and Iron Council have fantastical elements in a Western-ish setting.  Dead Reckoning has steampunk and zombies.
But I’m talking gun slingers, saloons, and magic.  There isn’t much of it out there, but Melissa Marr gives us just that.
The book is smanbatet in the Wasteland.  It’s a strange world full of various forms of not-quite-humans.  There are miners who have evolved to work underground.  There are the bloedzuigers, who are equivalent to vampires (think the really ugly man-bat form from Bram Stoker’s Dracula).  There are cyanthropes, aka werewolves.  Then there are the Arrivals.  Arrivals are from our world.  They don’t know how they got to the Wasteland.  They don’t know if there’s a way to get home.  They come from all different eras starting with siblings Jack and Kitty from the 1870’s and going up to the newest Arrival, Chloe who came from 2010.
If an Arrival dies she might stay dead or she might wake up in six days.  No one knows until it happens.  The only other thing that the Arrivals have in common; they’ve all killed someone back in the “real” world.  It might have been for a good reason, but they all have blood on their hands.
Jack and Kitty believe that they have to use their strange powers to improve the Wasteland.  They’re in direct opposition to the mysterious Ajani.  He seems interested only in personal profit.  The siblings are constantly fighting Ajani for the most precious resource in the Wasteland – new Arrivals.

I read this while I was on jury duty and it did a great job of keeping me from feeling like I was in a weird, perpetual waiting room.  At the same time, that feeling of being trapped in a bureaucratic Purgatory probably added something to my experience with the book.  We’d all done something to land ourselves in jury duty, right?

Overall, I really enjoyed the book.  The characters were interesting and the world building was phenomenal.  The only thing I can really complain about is that the book was too short.  It’s not that I felt shortchanged at the end, just that I wasn’t ready to leave yet.  The End came about 100 pages too soon for me.  I have so many questions left!  I really hope that Marr plans to turn this into a new series.  I’m not saying that it’s bad as a standalone, because it isn’t.  But there’s still so much I want to know.

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