I received an advance reader’s copy (ARC) of Upright Women Wanted by Sarah Gailey. Since this version is just a proof and not the final version, I won’t quote directly and will keep my comments general. But also, I’m actually reading one of my ARCs in advance, which is rare! I’m pretty proud of myself.
In Sarah Gailey’s new novella, the world sometime in our future has developed into something closely resembling the Wild West again. Here, Esther flees home after the woman she loves is executed. She stows away on the wagon of the Librarians, a group who bring books and other supplies to remote towns. Esther hopes she can earn a place here, but as time goes on she comes to realize that the Librarians are not what they seem.
Esther is a good protagonist. She starts out with lots of internalized fear about who she is, and this makes her rather uncertain and weak (which I imagine will frustrate some readers). However, her development over the course of the story sees her grow stronger and aware that much of her problems with her identity have come from the conventions of the world she grew up in, rather than the truth.
The other characters, Leda and Bet and Cye especially, are great. Everyone is very unapologetically queer, not to mention brave and witty. It’s an engaging group, quite a contrast to the more meek Esther.
As for the storyline, this book presents a fast-paced adventure across the West, along with a bit of an unfolding mystery as to what the Librarians are really up to, if someone is after them, and what Esther is going to do in this new world. Several scenes were quite exciting, several touching, and though I wasn’t satisfied entirely with the ending (I wanted to know more about the rebellion, for one), I still had a lot of fun with this.
In the end, Upright Women Wanted is an entertaining novella with some decent world building, a great cast of characters, and a wonderful LGBTQ Wild West adventure. It’s short, too, so if you need a quick read, try this one.
Overall rating: 8.5/10
Upright Women Wanted will be published next month, February 2020!