Gabriel's Road

Review – Gabriel’s Road (Devil’s West Novella) by Laura Anne Gilman

Publisher: Book View Cafe
Publish Date: 30 Apr 19
Reviewed by: E
How I got this book: ARC from the author

Most folk in the Territory never think about the magic around them. They’ve never encountered a magician, fought a spell-beast, or bargained with the devil.

Gabriel Kasun is not most folk.

A year spent mentoring Isobel Lacoyo Távora, the Devil’s Left Hand, brought him closer to the Territory’s magic than he’d ever wanted. But now Gabriel is on his own again, free of all obligation.

Except the Territory – and his own destiny – isn’t quite done with him yet.

I have enjoyed Gilman’s writing for mumble years and being a child of the West I was very eager to give her Devil’s West series a go. As I read the first book I found myself wondering about Gabriel. Many of the other characters Isobel was familiar with had bits of their back story told but Gabriel appeared as a fully formed person, without the usual ties to the Devil but somehow intimately familiar with navigating the West as safely as possible. Let me pause here and say that you can start with Gabriel’s Road then go back and will then probably want to read the previous three books and maybe the collection of short stories or you can start with Silver on the Road and read the series according to publication date. I will try to avoid major spoilers of the previous books in the series just in case. Now back to Gabriel.

Gabriel’s West is about Gabriel, where he goes, and what happens to him after he completes his year mentoring Isobel. It is also about who Gabriel was before he entered Isobel’s life and answers the questions I had as well as the questions I hadn’t yet fully formed. Gilman’s writing was in turns lush and harsh, spare and bountiful almost mirroring the contrast between East and West, acceptance and rejection, celebration and despair. I was left thinking Gabriel experienced his own series of tests or crucible events just like he shepherded Isobel through her proving journey and what came out was boundless possibility. I also think, without Isobel he would have remained stagnant, the Gabriel I first met, a man without purpose or connection.

I enjoyed Gabriel’s Road even though my thoughts and reaction when I finished weren’t immediately solidified. This was a story which took my imagination on a trip while also leaving me with things to ponder and mull over. I have a feeling elements will distinctly remain with me for quite a while because it isn’t a light-hearted read, yet not dark and depressing; more contemplative or introspective. All of Gilman’s works I have read have some level of self-discovery for the main characters but they tend to be spread over multiple books. Here Gilman showcased a different aspect of her writing ability and put a significant amount of character development into a single novella without making it seem onerous or superficial. I would be satisfied if Gilman switched worlds at this point but I hope I get to meet the “new” Gabriel and the “new” Isobel.

I give Gabriel’s Road a B and give the fabulous cover an A!

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