UPRIGHT WOMEN WANTED
GENRES/ SUBJECTS: Dystopian Western Novella
REPRESENTATION: Lesbian MC, Non-Binary LI, multiple F/F relationships
A copy of this was provided free of charge from the publisher in return for an honest review.
Like the other Sarah Gailey books I’ve read, the premise of Upright Women Wanted might be a little hard to explain, but go in on trust and I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
It took me a little while — probably longer than it should, I can be obtuse — to realise that the story is set in a near-future dystopian society rather than the historical ‘wild west’.
The sense of place is that well written. For most of the story we’re on the road, travelling in an unforgiving landscape with a few brief stops along the way. Even though the characters are never still, you really get a sense of the world their travelling though, both in terms of physical setting and the political/ sociological atmosphere. It has a tangible sense of place, that feels aged — like you could reach out and touch it, or like it’s always been there.
Likewise, the characters feel ‘lived in’. Apart from Esther, the characters get no real direct backstory, and even hers in dealt with in a few short paragraphs. That doesn’t matter though, because somehow I felt that I knew them all — had known them all for a long time — within just a few pages.
Upright Women Wanted is less than 180 pages, so it’s a quick read, but one that really packs a punch. The story was incredibly memorable and touching, and the cast of characters caught my heart. It’s a standalone story — and functions absolutely perfectly as one — but I’m greedy, and I’d happily read a series of novella about these people.
“That girl’s got more wrong notions than a barn owl’s got mean looks.”
Esther is a stowaway. She’s hidden herself away in the Librarian’s book wagon in an attempt to escape the marriage her father has arranged for her–a marriage to the man who was previously engaged to her best friend. Her best friend who she was in love with. Her best friend who was just executed for possession of resistance propaganda.
The future American Southwest is full of bandits, fascists, and queer librarian spies on horseback trying to do the right thing.
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