Thistle (thistle_chaser) wrote,

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Book #27 of 2016: The Gaslight Dogs

The Gaslight Dogs by Karin Lowachee
Rating: Dislike (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)

This book had so many issues, I don't even know where to start.

The plot was that "white people" (generic fantasy Europeans) came to "North America" (generic fantasy New World) wanting to use the magic of "Native Americans" (generic native people) to win their wars. The fantasy layer was so thin, I never for a moment thought she wasn't writing about Europeans' abuse of Native Americans. It didn't help that she said that outright both in the forward and afterward of the book...

While I sort of liked the story idea, and the worldbuilding had a couple of interesting details, I couldn't have cared less about any character in this book. Every single one of them was, at best, a cardboard cutout and completely uninteresting.

Supposedly this was a steampunk book, and while I'm not an expert on steampunk, I would have guessed this were a romance book before I guessed steampunk (and there was not one single bit of romance in it). The characters had guns (which fit the Europeans-come-to-New-World time period), and a train was mentioned once (but no character saw or or in any way interacted it -- it had a one-sentence mention that it existed). That was the grand total of tech in the world.

There were big sections of the book where the pose was so purple the whole story ground to a halt. All these examples are random sentences from one page:

Weather was a cousin claim to what swept through Nev Anyan on any given day. Here, with less audience in stone and wooden walls, the wind and glare from the diamond sun fell to glory along their path.

He follows soon after, into the dark, like a suicidal widow after her fresh dead man.

Breath expelled with labor like a plowing in the noonday sun.

The morning ran like molasses as their quick camp became yet another ghost in the middle of a field.

Used more sparingly, stuff like that would be okay, but page after page of it and I just wanted to yell at the author to get to the point and get back to the story.

I was considering abandoning it at many points, and eventually went to the Amazon page to see what others thought. When I saw other reviews saying there was "no ending" to the book, I almost gave up for sure -- the lack of ending in a book to try to force the readers to buy the rest of the trilogy to find out what happens is one of the things that annoys me most of all. However, in this case, the ending worked for me. It was an open ending (as fit the story), not a "cut off in the middle of the story, see book two to continue!" kind of ending.

Perhaps surprisingly, I'm reading another of her books next (Warchief), but that one came recommended, and the author herself said Gaslight Dogs was totally different than it, so I'm hoping it will work for me.

Edit: The more I think about it, the more the title annoys me. 'Dogs' makes sense (it was, for whatever reason, what the native people called their spirits/souls), but 'Gaslight' makes no sense. If this were steampunk, it would fit, but as this book stands, the title is the only steampunk thing about it.
Tags: 2016 books, book review, book: the gaslight dogs
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