Gunslinger Girl by Lyndsay Ely

A review of the futuristic Wild West adventure novel Gunslinger Girl by Lyndsay Ely.

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Gunslinger Girl is a model of genre-bending colour and sparkle. I didn’t know that going in – I thought it was a straight-up Western, so the futuristic sci-fi elements were a surprise at first, but the solar panels and communes blend seamlessly with the sharp shooters, dust, and desert. It’s Moulin Rouge meets Mad Max, a wild vivid world of violence and showmanship.

The main character, Serendipity “Pity” Jones, leaves her home to escape her abusive father who wants to sell her off for breeding (in this future, fertility is rare and prized), and escapes to Cessation, a city outside of the law, and finds her place in the Theatre Vespertine, a deadly show that tests her sharpshooting skills, courage, and heart.

The family Pity finds in the Theatre was the strongest part of this book for me. The cast of performers were diverse and non-stereotypical, and Lyndsay Ely spends a lot of time making sure you get to know them all. The sense of home and belonging really sprang off the page to me, and the world of the Theatre and Cessation was vivid and dramatic and genuine. It’s rather ironic, then, that it was Pity herself I didn’t feel the most attached to – in a dazzling cast, she was the weakest link, and I didn’t feel as close and connected to her as I wished, which is a shame, especially as the secondary characters were so well-drawn.

The end is open enough for a sequel, which I will definitely be picking up.

Alice Olivia Scarlett is a freelance editor. She lives in Thanet with the seagulls and parakeets.

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