Well howdy partners (*tips hat*). I’ve spent a fair amount of the last week going back and watching old Westerns. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. Johnny Guitar. Seven Samurai (basically a Western). You know, the classics. There’s something so deeply engaging about the landscape of the old West, lawless and rife with conflict. Plus, in the end, you know you’ll get a tense showdown between the good guys and the bad guys (usually accompanied by a bit of tumbleweed). So, if you’re looking for a rootin’-tootin’ good time, check out some of these Westerns, featuring our favorite gunslinging gals (and guys).
Elysium, Oklahoma, is a town like any other. Respectable. God-fearing. Praying for an end to the Dust Bowl. Until the day the people of Elysium are chosen by two sisters: Life and Death. And the Sisters like to gamble against each other with things like time, and space, and human lives. Elysium is to become the gameboard in a ruthless competition between the goddesses. The Dust Soldiers will return in ten years' time, and if the people of Elysium have not proved themselves worthy, all will be slain.
Nearly ten years later, seventeen-year-old Sal Wilkinson is called upon to lead Elysium as it prepares for the end of the game. But then an outsider named Asa arrives at Elysium's gates with nothing more than a sharp smile and a bag of magic tricks, and they trigger a terrible accident that gets both Sal and Asa exiled into the brutal Desert of Dust and Steel. There Sal and Asa stumble upon a gang of girls headed by another exile: a young witch everyone in Elysium believes to be dead. As the apocalypse looms, they must do more than simply tip the scales in Elysium's favor – only by reinventing the rules can they beat Life and Death at their own game in this exciting fantasy debut.
By Lyndsay Ely
Seventeen-year-old Serendipity “Pity” Jones inherited two things from her mother: a pair of six-shooters and perfect aim. She’s been offered a life of fame and fortune in Cessation, a glittering city where lawlessness is a way of life. But the price she pays for her freedom may be too great… In this extraordinary debut from Lyndsay Ely, the West is once again wild after a Second Civil War fractures the U.S. into a broken, dangerous land. Pity’s struggle against the dark and twisted underbelly of a corrupt city will haunt you long after the final bullet is shot.
Under a Painted Sky
By Stacey Lee
All Samantha wanted was to move back to New York and pursue her music, which was difficult enough being a Chinese girl in Missouri, 1849. Then her fate takes a turn for the worse after a tragic accident leaves her with nothing and she breaks the law in self-defense. With help from Annamae, a runaway slave she met at the scene of her crime, the two flee town for the unknown frontier. Disguised as Sammy and Andy, two boys heading for the California gold rush, each search for a link to their past and struggle to avoid any unwanted attention. But the law is closing in on them and new setbacks come each day, and the girls will quickly learn there are not many places one can hide on the open trail.
By Erin Bowman
When Kate Thompson’s father is killed by the notorious Rose Riders for a mysterious journal that reveals the secret location of a gold mine, the eighteen-year-old disguises herself as a boy and takes to the gritty plains looking for answers and justice. What she finds are devious strangers, dust storms, and a pair of brothers who refuse to quit riding in her shadow. But as Kate gets closer to the secrets about her family, she gets closer to the truth about herself and must decide if there’s room for love in a heart so full of hate. In the spirit of True Grit, the cutthroat days of the Wild West come to life for a new generation.
Walk on Earth a Stranger
By Rae Carson
Lee Westfall has a secret. She can sense the presence of gold in the world around her. Veins deep beneath the earth, pebbles in the river, nuggets dug up from the forest floor. The buzz of gold means warmth and life and home—until everything is ripped away by a man who wants to control her. Left with nothing, Lee disguises herself as a boy and takes to the trail across the country. Gold was discovered in California, and where else could such a magical girl find herself, find safety?
By Justina Ireland
Jane McKeene was born two days before the dead began to walk the battlefields of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania—derailing the War Between the States and changing the nation forever. In this new America, safety for all depends on the work of a few, and laws like the Native and Negro Education Act require certain children to attend combat schools to learn to put down the dead. But there are also opportunities—and Jane is studying to become an Attendant, trained in both weaponry and etiquette to protect the well-to-do. It’s a chance for a better life for Negro girls like Jane. But when families around Baltimore County begin to go missing, Jane is caught in the middle of a conspiracy, one that finds her in a desperate fight for her life against some powerful enemies. And the restless dead, it would seem, are the least of her problems.