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A heroic fantasy by an award-winning author about a young woman who is trained in the art of the sinister hand of magic, but at what price? On her sixteenth birthday, Isobel makes the choice to work for the devil in his territory west of the Mississippi. But this is not the devil you know. This is a being who deals fairly with immense—but not unlimited—power, who offers opp A heroic fantasy by an award-winning author about a young woman who is trained in the art of the sinister hand of magic, but at what price? On her sixteenth birthday, Isobel makes the choice to work for the devil in his territory west of the Mississippi. But this is not the devil you know. This is a being who deals fairly with immense—but not unlimited—power, who offers opportunities to people who want to make a deal, and makes sure they always get what they deserve. But his land is a wild west that needs a human touch, and that’s where Izzy comes in. Inadvertently trained by him to see the clues in and manipulations of human desire, Izzy is raised to be his left hand and travel the circuitous road through the territory. As we all know, where there is magic there is power and chaos…and death.


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A heroic fantasy by an award-winning author about a young woman who is trained in the art of the sinister hand of magic, but at what price? On her sixteenth birthday, Isobel makes the choice to work for the devil in his territory west of the Mississippi. But this is not the devil you know. This is a being who deals fairly with immense—but not unlimited—power, who offers opp A heroic fantasy by an award-winning author about a young woman who is trained in the art of the sinister hand of magic, but at what price? On her sixteenth birthday, Isobel makes the choice to work for the devil in his territory west of the Mississippi. But this is not the devil you know. This is a being who deals fairly with immense—but not unlimited—power, who offers opportunities to people who want to make a deal, and makes sure they always get what they deserve. But his land is a wild west that needs a human touch, and that’s where Izzy comes in. Inadvertently trained by him to see the clues in and manipulations of human desire, Izzy is raised to be his left hand and travel the circuitous road through the territory. As we all know, where there is magic there is power and chaos…and death.

30 review for Silver on the Road

  1. 4 out of 5

    Lindsay

    Wonderful world-building with an interesting heroine growing into the position that she's been given. In this world, an alternate American west, the Devil has claimed a Territory encompassing the midwest of North America, and all within it must hold to his Agreement or their own Bargains. It's not clear that this is the biblical Devil, but the analogy fits and he doesn't seem to mind the name. Isobel was brought up in the Devil's house and after her sixteenth birthday she makes a Bargain with him Wonderful world-building with an interesting heroine growing into the position that she's been given. In this world, an alternate American west, the Devil has claimed a Territory encompassing the midwest of North America, and all within it must hold to his Agreement or their own Bargains. It's not clear that this is the biblical Devil, but the analogy fits and he doesn't seem to mind the name. Isobel was brought up in the Devil's house and after her sixteenth birthday she makes a Bargain with him to help him with his business and he in turn makes her the Devil's Left Hand and sends her on her way with an experienced Rider to teach her the ropes. From there we get the slow unfolding of life on the road in the Devil's Territory and Izzy begins to explore what's needed of her as she encounters the various supernatural and human denizens of the country. She's traveling with Gabriel, an experienced Rider, who has plenty of mysteries of his own which don't get explored fully here. After a promising start this story becomes mind-bendingly slow and never quite unfolds to anything particularly satisfying. There's something bad happening in the part of the Territory that Isobel is visiting, but her small group is mostly just chasing it down rather than actually encountering it. There's no resolution here, just the winning of a minor battle. Too long for what it is, but it works as the first part of a promising story. In terms of rating the quality of writing and world-building wants 4 stars, but in terms of being a novel this is only the first half or third of something much bigger and this one does not come to any satisfying conclusion, or even a good stopping point.

  2. 5 out of 5

    abbicus rex

    I absolutely loved this book. It was just what I was looking for, weirdly enough: a western dark fantasy. Not often do you find something that just perfectly suits your reading tastes, but this was it for me! (And just to note, I'm only giving it 4 stars because I think books should improve over the course of a series, so I'm giving it room to grow.) The world Gilman created is huge and complex, but feels very worn-in and very real. This is our world, but with a different overlay of mythology th I absolutely loved this book. It was just what I was looking for, weirdly enough: a western dark fantasy. Not often do you find something that just perfectly suits your reading tastes, but this was it for me! (And just to note, I'm only giving it 4 stars because I think books should improve over the course of a series, so I'm giving it room to grow.) The world Gilman created is huge and complex, but feels very worn-in and very real. This is our world, but with a different overlay of mythology that…to put it less-than-eloquently, had me drooling at the mouth. The in-world traditions and history felt completely natural, as did the magic. The Territory is, even within the story itself, a land of mythos. The surrounding countries treat it with great care, because they don’t understand it. And yet the people who are from the Territory find it hard to be anywhere else – which I empathize with, because after reading this book, I’m finding it hard to be back in the normal world. Izzy is a wonderful character. She’s smart and tough, but also has just the right touch of self-doubt and self-righteousness to be a complex, flawed, believable character. Her growth over the course of the book is organic and compelling, and very near to my heart. Not only does she want a purpose, but once she has it, she starts to realize that what she actually needs is something of her own making, not something given to her by someone else. Gabriel, too, was intriguing from the beginning, but I actually only grew more interested in him as he was humanized as they rode – when he was tired and dirty and annoyed and scared. And, of course, knowing he had a secret. The growth of their camaraderie had me quite literally covering my face with my hands at several points, out of sheer joy. THAT is the building of a relationship I like to see! Gilman managed to thread that tricky needle of making a story epic while keeping it human, anchoring the large scale in characters and detail. Izzy and Gabriel are the anchors, but so are their horses and their mule, the dirt under their fingernails and the hard tack they begrudgingly eat on the road. Their long weeks of traveling never felt boring to me, which is a feat in and of itself because traveling can be so boring to read. Random note: I’m always thrilled to see ladies get their period in books. It’s so rarely portrayed, and yet something we deal with every single month, for the most part. How much did I love that Izzy got her period while they were on the road? And how much did I love that, though Gabriel definitely didn’t want to know about it, he never insinuated she was less capable or overly-emotional because she was menstruating? SO MUCH. This book surprised me with its eeriness, with its humor, and with its elegance. Gilman writes beautifully, and describes the west in a way you can practically feel, hear, touch and taste. Have I been raving about this book to anyone who will listen? Yes. The answer is yes.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Justine

    "The right hand gathers and gives, visible to all. But the left hand, Isobel, the manu sinistra? It moves in shadows, unseen, unheard...until I deem it time for it to be seen and heard. And when it moves, its work cannot be undone. It is the strength of the Territory, the quick knife in the darkness, the cold eye and the final word." Sixteen year old Isobel has lived her entire life in the town of Flood, at the centre of the Territory, the area claimed and protected by the devil. It is bounded by "The right hand gathers and gives, visible to all. But the left hand, Isobel, the manu sinistra? It moves in shadows, unseen, unheard...until I deem it time for it to be seen and heard. And when it moves, its work cannot be undone. It is the strength of the Territory, the quick knife in the darkness, the cold eye and the final word." Sixteen year old Isobel has lived her entire life in the town of Flood, at the centre of the Territory, the area claimed and protected by the devil. It is bounded by the Spanish Protectorate to the south and west, and the United States to the east. Both wish to expand their boundaries into the Territory if they can, but the devil claimed these lands long ago, and he isn't willing to cede it to either. But unrest is stirring in the Territory, so when Isobel tells the Boss she wants to work for him, to have a position that will afford her some power and respect, her offers to make her his Left Hand. Isobel doesn't get an explanation of what the Left Hand is other than the brief explanation set out above. So she's quite taken aback when, upon making her Bargain, she's told to set out the very next day from Flood in the company of a rider named Gabriel to take to the road and ride the circuit of the Territory. What follows is a richly atmospheric story of a young woman and her mentor learning the road and also the fit of her new position. She has power, but she doesn't know whether it's her own, or if she has merely become a vessel for the Boss's power, and this is something she struggles to understand and come to terms with. The relationship between Isobel and Gabriel is perfectly written. He is obviously by nature a caring and protective person, but takes his responsibilties as a mentor seriously, always treating her as the person she has the potential to be. The story here unfolds slowly and carefully, as Isobel discovers her own potential, and comes to learn what it means to be the Devil's Left Hand. Although ultimately the book leaves many questions unanswered, it did at least leave Isobel and her understanding of herself in a very satisying place. Magical realism books are always touch and go for me, but I really liked the world of the Devil's West that Gilman has created. I will definitely be reading the next book in the series, The Cold Eye.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Robyn

    3.5 stars. Spare, lovely writing, and an intriguing setting, but an extremely slow story without much resolution.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Bea

    I follow Ms. Gilman on both Facebook and Twitter and had been seeing snippets of this story as she was working on it. When she offered review copies, I jumped at the opportunity as she's one of my favorite fantasy authors. She did not disappoint. "Silver on the Road" was a fresh take on the hero's journey, a teen's growing up, and having your wish granted. Despite having been raised by the devil, and seeing him in action close up, the bargain Izzy makes ends up costing her in ways she didn't ant I follow Ms. Gilman on both Facebook and Twitter and had been seeing snippets of this story as she was working on it. When she offered review copies, I jumped at the opportunity as she's one of my favorite fantasy authors. She did not disappoint. "Silver on the Road" was a fresh take on the hero's journey, a teen's growing up, and having your wish granted. Despite having been raised by the devil, and seeing him in action close up, the bargain Izzy makes ends up costing her in ways she didn't anticipate. And when the devil unexpectedly sends her on the road with a strange man as her mentor, who isn't entirely clear on what it is he's supposed to be teaching her, she's hurt and confused. The world felt very much like ours but was different enough that I could see the similarities while keeping it separate it from our world. It's layered and textured and feels real. Gilman's gift for description shines through in this story and the language is beautiful. She provides just enough information and detail so the reader isn't lost, at times we're learning with Izzy, but there are still unanswered questions. Around the middle of the story the pace was slow and I got impatient but Gilman was slowly unraveling her story and my patience was rewarded. I liked Izzy and loved seeing her growth. At only sixteen she's already quite strong and courageous; I can't wait to see what else she has in store. "Silver on the Road" is a coming of age story filled with poetic language, adventure, a different take on the devil, and a new perspective on North American history. It was entertaining, fascinating, and a wonderful story. I'll be looking for the next book.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Loren

    If I could, I'd give this 3.5 stars. The world-building is wonderful. The writing is lovely. The major characters are interesting. Unfortunately, the book falls apart in the plot. Terrible things are happening in the Territory, but Isobel -- the Devil's Hand -- is always too late to see them occur. Often, she isn't even allowed to see the aftermath. When she does, the encounters never appear in the text. Throughout the story, things happen to other people, but not to Isobel. At the very end, when If I could, I'd give this 3.5 stars. The world-building is wonderful. The writing is lovely. The major characters are interesting. Unfortunately, the book falls apart in the plot. Terrible things are happening in the Territory, but Isobel -- the Devil's Hand -- is always too late to see them occur. Often, she isn't even allowed to see the aftermath. When she does, the encounters never appear in the text. Throughout the story, things happen to other people, but not to Isobel. At the very end, when all her protectors have been injured or stepped aside, Isobel finally gets the chance to DO something. Of course, then the confrontation happens in the white space between one scene and the next. I would have been deeply disappointed except that the omission of such a major moment from the story did not come as a surprise. The book is about a hundred pages too long, too full of wandering around, conversations that repeat, and characters that don't advance the plot, but all those things could be forgiven if the heroine had ever done anything in the story. It's immensely frustrating because I was enjoying the book so much for the first 200 pages or so.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Maria Kramer

    Never has a book so accurately captured the tedium of travel in a pre-automobile age - so much so that the reader herself will feel said boredom. Want to wander through huge swathes of nothing much, while nothing really happens, and characters have repetitive conversations and mull over the same questions without any development? This book is for you! I feel personally betrayed by this book. It had such a great, interesting setting, and the first chapter was so intriguing! A young girl agrees to Never has a book so accurately captured the tedium of travel in a pre-automobile age - so much so that the reader herself will feel said boredom. Want to wander through huge swathes of nothing much, while nothing really happens, and characters have repetitive conversations and mull over the same questions without any development? This book is for you! I feel personally betrayed by this book. It had such a great, interesting setting, and the first chapter was so intriguing! A young girl agrees to be the Left Hand of the Devil. What does that mean? What dark forces are brewing in the Territory? Well, let me tell you, at 50% complete with the book, those answers were still not remotely forthcoming. So I quit. And I bought this book myself, which makes it particularly irritating.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Emma

    If I was rating this on the writing and world building alone, this would no doubt be a 5 star read: so atmospheric; so evocative. But the story was sooooslow and unresolved.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Casey

    Silver in the West didn't really grab me, but I liked the main character. It felt like much of the plot was empty, just like the expanse of land the characters are traveling. Based on the reviews, seems like I read a different book than most readers, as I didn't like this one so much. Izzy lives in a town called Flood, out in the land that we know as the Louisiana Purchase. The exact timepoint is not clear, but it's in the 1800s for sure, based on the map in the book and the setting. Izzy has been Silver in the West didn't really grab me, but I liked the main character. It felt like much of the plot was empty, just like the expanse of land the characters are traveling. Based on the reviews, seems like I read a different book than most readers, as I didn't like this one so much. Izzy lives in a town called Flood, out in the land that we know as the Louisiana Purchase. The exact timepoint is not clear, but it's in the 1800s for sure, based on the map in the book and the setting. Izzy has been raised by a man called the Devil, as her parents left her at his establishment as a young infant. Plenty of other women live with her, and they all run a saloon. Some of the women have made deals to stay, others are probably in Izzy's situation (never stated) where they are minors waiting to get old enough to leave. The Devil isn't really the Devil, but it's apparent he has some sort of power and influence. Izzy comes of age and is allowed to make a choice, to leave Flood and venture on her own, or to make a bargain and work for the Devil. She decides to make a bargain, and the Devil asks her to be his right hand. The Devil then asks Gabriel, a traveller passing through, to assist her. The two set off and travel the land. They uncover towns in which inhabitants vanished and a mystery ensues. Izzy must use her wits, and be confident that as the Devil's right hand, she can gain respect and bring order to the land. The biggest thing that irked me was the lack of explained world-building. Certainly, part of the story is for Izzy to discover what is out there, but the characters know what kind of world they are living in. It could have been established right in the beginning with some basic parameters. Izzy could have overheard conversation in the saloon, even if it's hearsay. My interest definitely waned as the book failed to provide any sort of further explanation of the world. I don't need everything explained, but I need something said about the major points of the world, such as magic. Like, has no one has ever seen magic but they know it happens - or everyone knows someone who is magical - or there's a town of magicians? - something, it was too vague. It's not clear what being the Devil's right hand means. I assume it's acting as his representative and acting in the Devil's interests. By Izzy doesn't really know any politics or the people of the land, so it's hard to imagine that she can do that, other than just using her powers to destroy the bad things. Izzy has a great personality. I appreciate a young adult that is not flipping out every second and scowling. She's level-headed with the right amount of self-doubt. She does have a touch of perfect syndrome when it comes to whatever magical powers she has. Maybe I would have believed her actions more if there was more backstory of her when she was growing up. Gabriel intrigued me, but the name seemed a bit heavy-handed. I kind of wished it had been a female traveling with her. Gabriel traveling with the Devil's hand? The magician was weird and he spiced up things, as Gabriel and Izzy are kind of dull. I liked the atmosphere and that it's a western. Hopefully there will be a resurgence of westerns in fantasy. I read some comparisons with this and Karen Memory by Elizabeth Bear, but I far preferred that read. There were times in the writing, during the action scenes, where things were explained in a subtle manner, or somewhat skipped over. I would find myself having to go back and re-read to figure out what happened. Maybe the writing style kept me from focusing. Finally, what is up with the Devil having essentially a harem of women? I guess there are some men living there too, but it's focused so prominently on the women. Weirded me out a bit, as the vibe was they all loved and respected him. There is something interesting here, but I needed a tighter plot and conflict.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Linda

    The story was one long, very slow ride, both literally and figuratively. The premise of the book was intriguing and the characters both interesting and likeable. But it was a frustrating read in that it sprinkled tiny droplets of action and revelation at about the rate one sees rain in the desert during its dry season. I felt at times I could die of thirst before getting a drink. (view spoiler)[In addition, little is resolved by the end of the book. It felt like merely one of innumerable pauses The story was one long, very slow ride, both literally and figuratively. The premise of the book was intriguing and the characters both interesting and likeable. But it was a frustrating read in that it sprinkled tiny droplets of action and revelation at about the rate one sees rain in the desert during its dry season. I felt at times I could die of thirst before getting a drink. (view spoiler)[In addition, little is resolved by the end of the book. It felt like merely one of innumerable pauses in the crawl of the story arc. (hide spoiler)] At the end, it left me dissatisfied. Yet the world and characterizations, slow-moving as they were, were interesting enough to carry me through until the end. I only hope that the next book will not require as much patience awaiting the plot and characters to develop.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Rachel Blackman

    This book didn't read to me like Gilman's usual work; it felt less like a novel, and more a folk-tale told in an almost lyrical manner. You can easily imagine it being told around a campfire, somewhere on a trail through the Devil's West. Like an oral history related by a storyteller. I won't spoil anything in the way of the plot, but it's clear there's a well-thought-out mythology behind the Devil's West. Despite this, you don't get any sort of exposition or "info dump" about it; even by the end This book didn't read to me like Gilman's usual work; it felt less like a novel, and more a folk-tale told in an almost lyrical manner. You can easily imagine it being told around a campfire, somewhere on a trail through the Devil's West. Like an oral history related by a storyteller. I won't spoil anything in the way of the plot, but it's clear there's a well-thought-out mythology behind the Devil's West. Despite this, you don't get any sort of exposition or "info dump" about it; even by the end of the story, the mythology and mysticism of the setting retains an air of mystery. If that sounds like something you'd enjoy, then... well, you probably would, and I highly recommend picking this one up!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Beth Cato

    I have seen this labeled as a Weird Western, and I understand why: it's definitely not a historical old west tale. It's alternate history that endows the middle of America with a sort of mystical sentience. The feel is folkloric. There is action, but it's not a thriller. It steadily moves in a way that is fascinating and soothing. Silver on the Road is a coming of age story of sorts for Isobel. She's a good heroine; a good person, period, who asked for a job and had no idea what she was granted. I have seen this labeled as a Weird Western, and I understand why: it's definitely not a historical old west tale. It's alternate history that endows the middle of America with a sort of mystical sentience. The feel is folkloric. There is action, but it's not a thriller. It steadily moves in a way that is fascinating and soothing. Silver on the Road is a coming of age story of sorts for Isobel. She's a good heroine; a good person, period, who asked for a job and had no idea what she was granted. At times, her whining on that subject gets a little old, but I think that's my biggest gripe. Also, I really appreciated that this wasn't a romance at all. Mind you, I enjoy a good romance subplot, but it is something of a trope. Gilman's worldbuilding is phenomenal. I loved exploring the road with Isobel and learning about crossroads, owls, snakes, and the feel of the land. It's a very... loving take on the very meaning of land and home.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie

    This is a slow-paced but lovely fantasy novel, set in an alternate version of the 19th-century American west, in which the Devil staked his own territory centuries earlier and the rest of the territorial borders have shifted around that. The heroine, Izzy, is a sixteen-year-old coming of age and coming into her own as the Devil's Left Hand, traveling the roads of her boss's territory with a mentor who has magical issues of his own. I picked up Silver on the Road after reading Rachel Neumeier's r This is a slow-paced but lovely fantasy novel, set in an alternate version of the 19th-century American west, in which the Devil staked his own territory centuries earlier and the rest of the territorial borders have shifted around that. The heroine, Izzy, is a sixteen-year-old coming of age and coming into her own as the Devil's Left Hand, traveling the roads of her boss's territory with a mentor who has magical issues of his own. I picked up Silver on the Road after reading Rachel Neumeier's review on her blog (which was very persuasive!), and by the time I was halfway through reading this book, I'd already pre-ordered Book Two. I loved the voice and the characters, the alternate-history setting is really interesting and well thought-out, and although it was a quiet book, it was a deeply absorbing and pleasurable read. Really looking forward to the next book in the series!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Rachel Neumeier

    Overall rating: Five out of five, obviously, and heading for a pretty good run at a ten out of ten. I’m very much looking forward to the second book, which I presume is coming out this year. So, let me tell you about SILVER ON THE ROAD. First, the primary protagonist: Izzy. Izzy – Isabel – is definitely a perfect YA protagonist. She just turned sixteen and this story is all about her journey to figure out who she is and what her place in the world might be. This is a story about a girl taking her Overall rating: Five out of five, obviously, and heading for a pretty good run at a ten out of ten. I’m very much looking forward to the second book, which I presume is coming out this year. So, let me tell you about SILVER ON THE ROAD. First, the primary protagonist: Izzy. Izzy – Isabel – is definitely a perfect YA protagonist. She just turned sixteen and this story is all about her journey to figure out who she is and what her place in the world might be. This is a story about a girl taking her first irreversible steps into adulthood. Izzy grew up in the devil’s household, and she takes his power and authority for granted. More about the devil in a moment; the point here is, Izzy has lived her whole childhood around power and authority, and she knows she has a lot to learn, but she’s ambitious enough to want power and authority of her own. So right away she is not a sweet little girl. I mean, she’s not mean or vicious or deliberately bitchy, but she’s not sugar and spice and everything nice, either. She is ambitious, and at the beginning young enough to be focused mostly on herself and how others see her. She’s confident in some ways, tentative in others. She’s experienced in some ways, thoroughly naïve in others. She knows what she wants in some ways; has no clue in others. This sets her up to really grow into herself during the course of the story, so much so that, honestly, it does take this long, leisurely book to properly show her personal journey into adulthood and the acceptance of responsibility. Any shorter or faster-paced and I think Izzy’s personal story would have felt rushed. Next, the secondary protagonist, Gabriel. He’s the young man who offers to mentor Izzy on her journey through the devil’s Territory. Gabriel’s background and motivations are mysterious when we meet him, and at the end of the book he is still pretty mysterious, although we have been offered tantalizing glimpses of his background. We do find out some important things about Gabriel, though. Like, he has the good sense and self-confidence to decline a chance to bargain with the devil (yes, yes, more about the devil in a moment). Right at the beginning, Gabriel decides that he doesn’t need to strike a deal with the devil: if he can’t get what he wants by his own efforts, he can live without it. For me, that is an excellent introduction, because when it comes to a novel’s protagonist, I dislike impulsivity and greatly prefer discipline, restraint, and self-confidence. Also, Gabriel is not the sort of young man who would take on a mentor role and then seduce a girl so much younger. As I said, this is not a romance. I so much appreciated the way Gilman handled the relationship between Gabriel and Izzy. If a romantic relationship does grow between the two protagonists in a later book, I’m sure she will develop it in a slow and believable arc. Okay, second: the world. The slow unfolding of this world is such a delight! This story is absolutely for readers who love subtle worldbuilding, because there is nothing here that even faintly resembles an infodump. In fact, at the end, even though we’ve traveled through a good bit of the Territory with Izzy and Gabriel, we still have mostly guesses about how the world actually works. A first this looks like a fairly-close-to-ours Old West kind of setting, but it so is not. The United States takes up about the eastern third of our US; the Spanish lands of Nueva España take up the western third and stretch down into Central America, and the Devil’s West encompasses the middle third of the continent. So far, so good, but here in the Territory – the Devil’s West – the land is just saturated with magic. Which the characters never think about unless it’s relevant to the plot – everyone knows about it, so why think about it? So the reader is constantly tripping over one or another startling detail about rattlesnakes or whatever. Always be polite to a rattlesnake was the first lesson every child learned. I don’t know, maybe it’s better to encounter a rattlesnake that thinks it’s funny to make you jump than one that is just attracted to your warmth? Plus there are definite implications that magic is quite different outside the Territory. I have no idea how the various Native American tribes interact with the people of the United States or Nueva España, but in the Territory they have plenty of their own magic and nobody pushes them around. We barely see the Native Americans in this book, but in later books I bet we see more. In the same way, here in the Territory, the prayers of friars from Nueva España seem essentially powerless whereas the power of the devil is indisputable. But I kind of have a feeling that might not be true once you cross the mountains into the Spanish lands. The devil: So, when European settlers first crossed the seas to the New World, they found that a powerful, mysterious person was already there. He blocked them from their desire to expand their own lands, so they were predisposed to dislike him; and he makes bargains that are always scrupulously fair but often rebound in unwelcome ways. Of course they called him the devil. Now people travel from all over to make bargains with the devil, generally unwisely. The devil is a fascinating character. He is onstage only briefly, at the beginning of the story, but that’s enough to make it quite clear that he isn’t a normal human person. I sure look forward to seeing more of him in later books. Plus, one of the enjoyable little tidbits from the book is the way all the normal sayings about the devil take on a new and more literal meaning. Idle hands are the devil’s tools – because if you have nothing useful to do, he’ll find you some chores that need doing. Perfectly normal, ordinary chores. Third, the writing: Really strong. +++++++++ She had heard the stories, of course, about the great herds. She had seen the dark, shaggy pelts, thick enough to dig your fingers into, warm enough to laugh at a winter’s storm, but a pelt did not move, did not thunder, did not fill the world until there was nothing else but the immense, incalculable swarm of creatures moving across the land, dust raised for leagues in their wake. They were too far away to pick out individual details, the long black smudge and golden dusk behind spreading seemingly forever, and she thought that maybe the herd would never end, that it would continue forever, even after they had ridden on, pouring from the horizon until the sun set again, thick hooves setting their medicine into the dirt and stone. “Can you feel it?” Gabriel asked her, and she nodded, unable to speak. Like the river when it was in full flood, or the boss when he was angry, restrained but powerful, pressing against her until she couldn’t breath and didn’t need to breath. The thundering of their hooves was her heartbeat, the beat of the stone beneath their feet, the air heated by the snort of their breath, and the warmth of their shaggy hides the pulse of blood under her skin . . . And then the herd let go of her, so suddenly that she fell back into the saddle, not even aware that she’d risen in her stirrups, trying to see better. “Breathe,” Gabriel said. “Your first time, it can be overwhelming.” ++++++++ I bookmarked any number of pages. It was hard to choose a representative sample. I love the ambiguity: do the bison herds in the Territory really have their own kind of magic? This is never explained outright, but I sure bet they do. Everything in the Territory seems to. Lots of other stuff is also left ambiguous or unexplained. Like one minor Native American character, Calls Thunder, is referred to with plurals. “They gave you a gift.” Why? I have no idea. And the demon, later, when we meet it. Them. Whatever. The word is used as though it is both singular and plural. They mythology behind this is not explained, either. There are many familiar terms that are applied to entities with which we really are not familiar at all. The minor character Graciendo. “He’s not . . . entirely human, is he?” Izzy asks. “Not even slightly,” Gabriel answers, and then reconsiders. “Well, slightly.” Okay, I’m intrigued. But we don’t find out the story behind Graciendo. We just get hints. This all contributes to the atmosphere of a setting that seems simultaneously familiar and very odd indeed. The one worrisome detail: The devil’s fundamental, overall bargain that holds for every entity in the Territory concerns being able to coexist with everyone else as long as you don’t give offense. If you offend someone, you seem to step outside the devil’s bargain and bad things can happen to you. Well, since it’s utterly impossible to go through your days without offending people, not to mention that some cantankerous people just aren’t happy unless they’re offended about something, it’s a bit difficult to picture how this rule could work. My guess so far, partly based on how the word seems to be used in the book and partly on just thinking about what might actually work, is that the term is actually reserved for, say, deliberate trespass against the important laws or customs or boundaries of people not your own. Like, if you’re a townsman and another townsman bumps you and doesn’t apologize, that doesn’t count, even if you get in a snit about it. But if you deliberately cross into a Native American tribe’s lands to hunt, then that does count, especially if you persist even after they make it clear you’re not welcome to hunt there. I’m pretty sure that’s the way the rule must be interpreted, and it does seem consistent with how it’s used in the book.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Suz

    I enjoyed this rather a lot. It was well written and drew me in slowly, as it unfolded slowly. Although the MC is just 16 it doesn't read like YA to me. That's not to say that it's not YA because of sex, in fact there is no sex in it. It's because the MC seems quite mature, if inexperienced, and is someone whose inner dialog is reasonable and thoughtful. It's not easy to forget her youth, due to her inexperience, but her approach to crisis and the things she is trying to resolve are handled matu I enjoyed this rather a lot. It was well written and drew me in slowly, as it unfolded slowly. Although the MC is just 16 it doesn't read like YA to me. That's not to say that it's not YA because of sex, in fact there is no sex in it. It's because the MC seems quite mature, if inexperienced, and is someone whose inner dialog is reasonable and thoughtful. It's not easy to forget her youth, due to her inexperience, but her approach to crisis and the things she is trying to resolve are handled maturely. I'll definitely read the next.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Kimberly [Come Hither Books]

    Silver on the Road delivers an original fantasy in the endless plains and arid foothills of the Old West. If you like a western setting, you’ll love. Landscapes are perfectly rendered and beautifully described. The grammar and prose is just rural enough to feel natural, without ever leaving you to decipher chicken scratch dialogue. You’ll get a feel for life on the road, from the sway in the saddle to the daily rituals of camp and campfire. But it’s not just the stunning setting that makes Silver Silver on the Road delivers an original fantasy in the endless plains and arid foothills of the Old West. If you like a western setting, you’ll love. Landscapes are perfectly rendered and beautifully described. The grammar and prose is just rural enough to feel natural, without ever leaving you to decipher chicken scratch dialogue. You’ll get a feel for life on the road, from the sway in the saddle to the daily rituals of camp and campfire. But it’s not just the stunning setting that makes Silver on the Road a worthy read. Izzy, the devil’s hand, and Gabriel, an experienced rider who shows her the ropes, are nuanced characters to travel with. Their friendship evolves slowly, through shared silences and long miles. It’s a joy to see characters brought to life without the need for much dialogue, as they learn to read each other’s actions through experience. The fantasy element is subtle, almost magical realism. It’s embedded in the land, in the traditions of unclaimed territory and the road that leads across it. For much of the story, it’s possible to not take much notice of the magical forces that shape events. But as Izzy and Gabriel track down a strange darkness come to the territory, they face forces more comfortably in the realm of heroic fantasy. It’s a slow-paced read, but richly rewarding for its realistic characters and rich settings. Recommended for: * Old West historical setting * Vivid descriptions and subtle magic * Believable characters that bond through shared experiences If you like Silver on the Road, try:     The Girl With Ghost Eyes - Strong fantasy heroine in a unique historical setting that comes to life on the page. Read my review. Walk on Earth a Stranger - Rich historical fantasy during the California Gold Rush Under a Painted Sky - Historical fiction of two girls, a Chinese immigrant and a runaway slave, on the trail during the California Gold Rush. (No fantasy elements.) Reviewed on Come Hither Books Breakdown: Genre: Historical fiction, heroic fantasy, historical fantasy, crossover read Magics/Tech: dark forces, subtle felt magic and dreams, water divining Setting: unclaimed territory (present-day Kansas and Colorado), 19th century Protag: 16-year-old white female Reader's Advisory Notes: The writing style and slower pacing make this an adult read, but the main character's coming-of-age quest and age make it a good crossover read for interested teens. Side comments suggest a gambling house also serves as a brothel, but with no details.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Kathy (Kindle-aholic)

    Fantastic book! 5 stars because I started this book and was not swayed to start any of the other books in my massive to read piles. These days, a book that keeps my interest away from all of the other shiny pretty things on my kindle gets highest marks. Western fantasy set in the Devil's West, a strange, mystical place claimed by the Old Man, the boss, the maker of deals, gambler. The world is really interesting, a mystical place set between the northern fur trappers, the fledgling United States, Fantastic book! 5 stars because I started this book and was not swayed to start any of the other books in my massive to read piles. These days, a book that keeps my interest away from all of the other shiny pretty things on my kindle gets highest marks. Western fantasy set in the Devil's West, a strange, mystical place claimed by the Old Man, the boss, the maker of deals, gambler. The world is really interesting, a mystical place set between the northern fur trappers, the fledgling United States, and Nueva Espana. I really love alternate history and western fantasy, so I was excited to start this. Izzy grew up in the Devil's house, sold as an indentured servant by her parents. Our story starts on her 16th birthday, her terms of servitude complete. She has some choices to make. These choices will shape her entire life, and in hindisght, we all know that at 16 none of us were really all that good at making choices. I like how the book touches on this. There's a lot going on here, a journey of a girl from childhood to adulthood, a literal journey through the territory as she comes to learn about her bargain to become the Devil's Hand, a mystery with a malignant force causing havoc in the territory. Although there is a teen protagonist, this is not YA. I would absolutely give it to a teen reader interested in fantasy, but it is not YA. No romance, lots of worldbuilding but did not feel like infodumping, even when Izzy is being mentored. Still lots of mysteries to explore. I will be getting book 2.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Cady

    I was disappointed in this book - it seemed to have everything I like - magical realism, the wild west, strong girl character - but the action was boring and the plot super repetitive. They use the same lines for description over and over. I really wanted to like this one but it took me like 3 renewals to get through and ended with a disjointed and unsatisfying encounter. I'm curious now to go read why it has so many stars... Edit: 10/30/17 I've been reading a YA trilogy that has a similar premise I was disappointed in this book - it seemed to have everything I like - magical realism, the wild west, strong girl character - but the action was boring and the plot super repetitive. They use the same lines for description over and over. I really wanted to like this one but it took me like 3 renewals to get through and ended with a disjointed and unsatisfying encounter. I'm curious now to go read why it has so many stars... Edit: 10/30/17 I've been reading a YA trilogy that has a similar premise (wild West, the protagonist can sense and find gold, young woman traveling West alone) but I am totally loving it! So try "Walk on Earth a Stranger" by Rae Carlson, of the Gold Seer Trilogy if you're intrigued by the premise but not thrilled with the execution.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Nostalgia Reader

    This book made me want to saddle up and ride out into the plains, see what adventures and creatures I could find--even though I have very little experience riding horses. While the pacing is extremely slow, the style is sometimes repetitive and more telling than showing, and the ending was quite anticlimactic, I overlooked all these things for the amazing aura that was the Devil's West. I loved the alternate history of it and of course the weird western-ness of it (this genre is just... perfect). This book made me want to saddle up and ride out into the plains, see what adventures and creatures I could find--even though I have very little experience riding horses. While the pacing is extremely slow, the style is sometimes repetitive and more telling than showing, and the ending was quite anticlimactic, I overlooked all these things for the amazing aura that was the Devil's West. I loved the alternate history of it and of course the weird western-ness of it (this genre is just... perfect). Isobel is the perfect mixture of strong and doubtful and she slowly grows to trust herself and her abilities as the book wears on. It's not exactly the most action packed book, but the setting and the quest are just perfect. Plus, literally ZERO ROMANCE. So. Flipping. Happy. About. That.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Ilana

    I think the author wrote this book to prove she just really hates camping. But with magic

  21. 4 out of 5

    Brittain *Needs a Nap and a Drink*

    This book has so much going for it! I am usually not a big fan of westerns but this one worked really well for me. This is the story of a young girl who works for the Devil in the wild west. I shit you not. This girl lives in an alternate universe where the chaos in the wild west of America is controlled by the Boss who makes bargains with people for their service and, probably, their lives. Ok, I know what you are thinking. Is it going to be like that episode of Big Bang Theory with the Flaming This book has so much going for it! I am usually not a big fan of westerns but this one worked really well for me. This is the story of a young girl who works for the Devil in the wild west. I shit you not. This girl lives in an alternate universe where the chaos in the wild west of America is controlled by the Boss who makes bargains with people for their service and, probably, their lives. Ok, I know what you are thinking. Is it going to be like that episode of Big Bang Theory with the Flaming Spittoon and the Creepy Teepee? The answer is no, because it is so much cooler than that! Isobel is abandoned with the Boss when she is a child by her parents who don't seem to have a lick of sense about them. I mean, they are told not to settle in Native American territory and what do they do? Ignore the advice. Good job assholes. So now Isobel, or Izzy, is 16 and her parents debt to the Devil is officially over so what is she to do? All she knows is how to work in the shadows and watch people. She, in turn, makes a Bargain with the Boss. She will become his left hand to help him control and manage the Territory while he is the front man in the saloon. Izzy is the covert operator but first, she must learn how the Territory operates. Enter Gabriel. Gabriel is to be her guide through the Roads of the West. But what was supposed to be a simple trip to get her used to the outside and get her ears wet becomes chaos when they encounter empty settlements and an eerie feeling that something isn't quite right. So this book is an epic adventure into the wild where anything can happen. You sort of expect a young girl and a rider to be romantic by the end of it but that is one of the reasons I loved this book. There is no romantic element to it. It is a pure coming of age type story where the girl has to grow the hell up before she gets into anything serious. Izzy is also one hell of a character. She shows weakness. She is vulnerable. She starts out way too confident and is knocked down quite a few pegs in the process of the adventure. But she also always strives to fixes things. She wants to do her best which is something that we can all relate to! The only reason that I didn't give this book 5 stars is because it did get a little slow in the middle. I definitely wanted to see some more action or something going on but they were just slowly making their way around. I am eager to see what happens in the next book.

  22. 5 out of 5

    lucky little cat

    Editor! Yo! Editooor! Over here! Promising Western / demon origin story here, with a fun feisty fledgling super-powered heroine. And is her Boss really the devil? How can ya put this book down? The catch: needs about 100 repetitive pages cut, six words at a time.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Casey

    I am waffling a bit between 3 and 4 stars for this one. Ultimately I have decided to round up. Before I say why I am rounding up, the main reason I was considering 3 stars is that the pacing is very slow. Meandering might be a good word for it. I typically binge books. It usually takes me 2-3 days at the very most to read a book but this book took me about 2.5 weeks. I couldn't read it book when I was too tired or there were too many distractions. The description tells us that the main character I am waffling a bit between 3 and 4 stars for this one. Ultimately I have decided to round up. Before I say why I am rounding up, the main reason I was considering 3 stars is that the pacing is very slow. Meandering might be a good word for it. I typically binge books. It usually takes me 2-3 days at the very most to read a book but this book took me about 2.5 weeks. I couldn't read it book when I was too tired or there were too many distractions. The description tells us that the main character is the Devil's hand but it takes 30 pages of Isobel introspectively reflecting on what she might possible want to do with her life for her to become the Devil's hand and even after she takes on the role it takes the entire book for her to even have a glimmer of a clue as to what being the Devil's left hand means. That said, this books is different from what I typically read. I am used to a more fast-paced, action-oriented fantasy. I don't do westerns, like, at all. Usually if it takes me more than a few days to get into a book I abandon it for something else. But I didn't want to stop reading this book and I was eager to find out more. The world is fascinating. The "wild west" is called the Territory and it is run by the "Devil." That is a convenient title that is not really accurate. Isobel calls him "Boss" which is probably a better descriptor. He is a somewhat benevolent dictator of the Territory. All who live their answer to his command yet he mostly lets people live as they see fit. He is ageless, timeless, and most definitely not human, and he has accepted Isobel's offer of service. She, at the tender age of 16, is to learn to become a rider -- a nomad, riding across the Territory -- where she will be the eyes, ears, and justice for the Boss who typically sticks to the town of Flood where Isobel grew up. With her is her mentor, Gabriel, who did not intend to get mixed up with the Boss but finds himself in that position anyway. Gabriel is a good guy with secrets I really wish I knew and he does what he can to teach Isobel how to be a rider and to protect her from herself and from the unknown in the Territory. I really enjoyed watching their relationship (friendship, affection) grow. It can be tracked by what he calls her -- Isobel, Izzy, and Iz at the end. I want to know more and hope I am in the mood to tackle a slow-moving tale when the second book comes out. Because of Isobel's age and because this is a "coming-of-age" story of sorts it would be a good crossover teen-new adult-adult fantasy title but for more mature readers, because of the pacing not because of content, which is fairly clean. In the end, I am very glad I read this book.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jaime Moyer

    There are books I have a hard time reviewing because I don't want to spoil them. Silver On The Road is one of those books. I will try to do more than gush "I loved this book!" even though I did love this book. Isobel has spent her whole life in the devil's house. The town of Flood is the only home she knows, and all of the world (the Territory) she's ever seen. On her sixteenth birthday,Izzy becomes an adult, able to make her own decisions. She can stay and work for the devil--make a deal with hi There are books I have a hard time reviewing because I don't want to spoil them. Silver On The Road is one of those books. I will try to do more than gush "I loved this book!" even though I did love this book. Isobel has spent her whole life in the devil's house. The town of Flood is the only home she knows, and all of the world (the Territory) she's ever seen. On her sixteenth birthday,Izzy becomes an adult, able to make her own decisions. She can stay and work for the devil--make a deal with him--or leave and go her own way. She makes a deal with The Boss, and becomes his Left Hand. She has no idea what that means, but she learns. Boy does she learn. Gabriel stops in Flood to play cards at the devil's table. He finds his need to face the devil wanes, and he spends one night in town. When he rides out, Gabriel has made his own deal to be Izzy's mentor and teach her how to survive on the Road. The worldbuilding for this book is outstanding. Laura Anne Gilman has re-imagined the American West of the early 1800s. It's a land populated with magicians, animal spirits, Native Tribes, and where silver can save your life. The land itself is a living thing. This is a wonderful blend of a historical setting, myths and legends, and magic. Highly recommended. Really looking forward to book 2 in January.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Sam

    I actually think this book would have worked wonderfully as a prequel novella introducing the world/characters before a meatier novel came out. It just should have been 100 pages shorter. So much wandering and nothing much happening. Even the big parts of the plot really seem to happen without the main character there. She hears or stumbles upon them after the fact which I think really steal the weight from them. Bad things are happening and we should be worried! But I just wasn't. The ending fi I actually think this book would have worked wonderfully as a prequel novella introducing the world/characters before a meatier novel came out. It just should have been 100 pages shorter. So much wandering and nothing much happening. Even the big parts of the plot really seem to happen without the main character there. She hears or stumbles upon them after the fact which I think really steal the weight from them. Bad things are happening and we should be worried! But I just wasn't. The ending finally had some action. A little too little too late for me but I think it did at least bump it up to 2 stars instead of just one. I was also a touch annoyed at the lack of real resolution to the ending. Felt a bit too much like a season finale of a tv show where they want to leave you hooked all summer. It's gotten great reviews so I will freely admit that it might just not have worked for me.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Annie Talbot

    Fabulous book. Well plotted, with wonderful, nuanced characters, an entirely believable (and yet fantastic) world, and masterful pacing. I cannot wait to read the next book in the series! Write, Laura Anne, write!

  27. 4 out of 5

    Sidsel Pedersen

    oh, oh, oh this is wonderful. I love the mood of this book. the start is slow bit gripping. The world strange but familiar. the characters fascinating

  28. 5 out of 5

    Grace

    This book had several good things. The only problem was, they all rank rather low on the "things I care about in a book" scale. The writing? Good. It hit just the right spooky Old West vibe and Isobel and Gabriel's inner voices sounded real; this is impressive when most books that try to do this end up trying too hard and landing in linguistic awkwardness. In this, it was enough to give me a sense of the place and time, and not so much that I wanted to grip the author by the shirtfront and say, " This book had several good things. The only problem was, they all rank rather low on the "things I care about in a book" scale. The writing? Good. It hit just the right spooky Old West vibe and Isobel and Gabriel's inner voices sounded real; this is impressive when most books that try to do this end up trying too hard and landing in linguistic awkwardness. In this, it was enough to give me a sense of the place and time, and not so much that I wanted to grip the author by the shirtfront and say, "If you use the word 'reckon' again one more time, I will kill you." The worldbuilding? Very interesting! The Devil's West is between the United States and the Spanish colonies on their respective coasts, and strange phenomena of magic flourish in the middle. There are all kinds of mysterious creatures, people and natural rules that clearly work in the West. It's sort of a mix of ley line/Native shamanism/almost Middle Eastern-esque magic that combines to make an intriguing, understated world. The problem is, nothing is ever explained. We run into stuff and neither Isobel nor Gabriel knows what it is, and rarely do they ever find out. Gabriel has a secret, and we eventually figure it out, except that we really don't. Isobel is told she needs to understand what the devil is, but she never does. The showdown with the big bad is kind of puzzling in its anticlimax, and I'm still not sure if things were left undone or not. I really wanted to investigate the West with Isobel, but never actually got to uncover any truths. Disappointing. Isobel and Gabriel's relationship could have been an amazing one. They both clearly liked each other and developed a fun, lowkey mentor-student relationship and it seemed promising. I never got to feel any emotions about it, though. Everything was just understated again and again. The thing is, this book is slow. Way slower than I expected. The majority of the book is spent riding the Western ranges, and collecting one single fragment of knowledge every week. I'm not one to complain about slowness if there's a payoff, and that can come in a myriad of different ways. If the relationship dynamics are amazing, who cares if anything happens! If there's a big lore payoff in the end, I'm willing to wait. Neither of these things were true, though. The worldbuilding and writing were the two strongest things about the book, but writing can never carry a story alone, and the worldbuilding did not ever come together. I needed something more in order to really love this story.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Rachel- Goodbye Borders

    Isobel (Izzy) was an indentured servant since the age of 2. She gains her freedom on her 16th birthday. She then opts for a Bargain (this is for life) to serve the devil (that's what he is called) as his Left Hand. Gabriel is an experienced rider and his expertise is enlisted to help Izzy learn the ropes. The world was confusing at first- this is a re-imagining of the old west. The US exists east of the Mississippi River and everything to the west is either under Spanish protection (CA, AZ, NM, Isobel (Izzy) was an indentured servant since the age of 2. She gains her freedom on her 16th birthday. She then opts for a Bargain (this is for life) to serve the devil (that's what he is called) as his Left Hand. Gabriel is an experienced rider and his expertise is enlisted to help Izzy learn the ropes. The world was confusing at first- this is a re-imagining of the old west. The US exists east of the Mississippi River and everything to the west is either under Spanish protection (CA, AZ, NM, parts of TX), unclaimed (WA, parts of OR, ID), or part of the devil's territory. The US and the Spanish are trying to expand into the Devil's territory. This had an interesting start but then got very slow. There was Something going on, but they were consistently arriving after the fact. Lots of traveling, but not actually doing anything useful. The big thing was figuring out Izzy's new role and talents. And at the end, it was still unclear (at least to me). This is a trilogy with a few short stories too. While I liked Izzy and Gabriel, this was too slow for me and I don't care to continue. For Romance-opoly Journey's End sun track.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Elspeth Cooper

    When I read The Incorruptibles I discovered I had a Wierd West itch that needed scratching, and this book delivered it in spades. I adored Izzy from the get-go - girls who observe and think a lot will never not be catnip to me - and the magic sneaked up on me nice and slow, such that I only really twigged how integral it was to this world when she saw the map in the boss's study. Another thing that's catnip to me is books that do the magic of place really well. The Territory is steeped in it, the When I read The Incorruptibles I discovered I had a Wierd West itch that needed scratching, and this book delivered it in spades. I adored Izzy from the get-go - girls who observe and think a lot will never not be catnip to me - and the magic sneaked up on me nice and slow, such that I only really twigged how integral it was to this world when she saw the map in the boss's study. Another thing that's catnip to me is books that do the magic of place really well. The Territory is steeped in it, the way wide open spaces and a land with old bones can be, and Gilman brought it vividly to life. Part mystery, part coming of age and coming into power, part love-letter to a version of the West that never was but still somehow exists on every dust-blown road to a prairie horizon and in crossroads legends everywhere. Wonderful.

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