The Damnation Affair
Excellent – Loved it! Buy it now & put this author on your watch list.
References to prostitution, kissing.
The West is a wild place, where the poison wind blows and the dead walk. But there is gold, and whiskey, and enough room for a man to forget what he once was–until he can no longer can.
Jack Gabriel’s been the sheriff in Damnation almost since the town grew out of the dust and the mud. He keeps the peace–sort of–and rides the circuit every dawn and dusk with the chartermage, making sure the wilderness doesn’t seep into their fragile attempt at civilization. Away from the cities clinging to the New World’s eastern rim, he doesn’t remember what he was. At least, he tries not to. Good enough.
But Damnation is growing, and along comes a schoolmarm. Catherine Barrowe is a right proper Boston miss, and it’s a mystery why she would choose this town where everything scandalous and dangerous is probably too much for a quality lady like her. Sometimes the sheriff wonders why she came out West–because everyone who does is running from something. He doesn’t realize Cat may be prickly, delicate, and proper, but she is also determined. She’s in Damnation to find her wayward older brother Robbie, whose letters were full of dark hints about gold, trouble…and something about a claim.
In a West where charm and charter live alongside clockwork and cold steel, where hot lead kills your enemy but it takes a blessing to make his corpse stay down, Cat will keep digging until she finds her brother. If Jack knew what she was after, he could solve the mystery–because he was the one who killed Robbie.
The thing is, Cat’s brother just won’t stay dead, and the undead are rising with him…
I started THE DAMNATION AFFAIR expecting a novella set in the series of Bannon & Clare (based on Goodreads’s characterization of this book as Bannon & Clare #1.5). What I found was a full length novel which, though nominally sharing the same universe as Bannon & Clare, had its own style and mythology entirely. Across the sea from everything familiar, THE DAMNATION AFFAIR is an enticing new take on the wild and dangerous West.
Perhaps due to this change of expectation, THE DAMNATION AFFAIR started a little slow for me. The first chapter paints Catherine as a prissy, delicate product of her upbringing, but she is quickly proven to be a plucky and kind beneath her stiff manners. It stretches the imagination a bit to have Catherine react so far outside the social norms around her, but I liked her too much to care.
The unfolding tension between Jack’s past, Catherine’s missing brother, and the dangerous events in Damnation were well paced alongside the unfolding mythology of charters and mancy and undead. This gritty Steampunk Western swept me away down the dusty streets and dangerous alleyways of Damnation, and culminated in a happily-ever-after I never saw coming. Now I’m not sure which side of the Atlantic I hope the next Bannon & Clare book is on.
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