A Crazy Combo That Works… Kinda
3 out of 5 stars
This might be the hardest review I’ve ever written. I’ll explain why briefly. I liked the book, I really did. But I also didn’t like the book. The major problem is that I can’t put my finger on why I didn’t like it. I’ll go into the reasons that I did like it and try to explain why I didn’t.
Lawman, Marshal, and all-around do-gooder Apostle Richardson is one of two main characters in Make Me No Grave. Other than how I described him above, he’s also a kind and forward thinking kind of guy. He does his job and does it well, but also doesn’t want someone to be killed unrightfully or hanged for the wrong reason. He fights for what he believes is right and this could be both his greatest strength and weakness.
The other main character is the outlaw “Grizzly Queen of the West” Almena Guillory (whose name I’m glad that Wyman had to say and not me because I would have butchered it and I did when trying to read the description to a friend). Apostle and Almena cross paths when he arrests her for crimes shes supposedly committed but ends up protecting her from numerous others who want to see her hang (or die in some way, shape, or form). And in the process gets sucked into a world that he didn’t even know existed.
So, Make Me No Grave is coined as a Weird Western. I can agree with that genre description. It’s basically if you took some elemental form/forms of magic and threw them into the 1800’s Midwest, you would have this book. Since it’s mentioned in the description I’ll mention it here. They call what Almena has/can do a “flesh witch”. I won’t go into what that means, but it was pretty cool and definitely something new and unique to the Western genre.
The story definitely went by faster when the two of them were together but even then it sort of dragged on. I can’t tell if it was the delivery (purposefully drawn out southern drawls, etc) or the writing style trying to make everything take just a little bit longer – but I think this was my biggest issue with the story. Things were going on but they weren’t going on fast enough or with enough pacing. It would be a major shootout and I didn’t feel that jolt of electricity where you feel like everyone (or at least the main characters) are in much danger. It’s not because they were that unkillable or that good with their weapons, it was just… something. I’m unsure of what, but it just seemed like every time they were thrown into the blender – they came out unscathed or at least barely scathed (if that’s a word on its own).
So, Make Me No Grave. A story that I both really liked and didn’t for drastically different reasons. A story that I think a lot of people would like and one that I think coined as being similar to Red Dead Redemption was pretty darn close. So close that I couldn’t listen to it on my way home, play RDR2, and then listen some more. The stories and storytelling were that similar. Even more similar to RDR was the fact that to get anywhere you had to travel, by horse, for (in modern times) what feels like way too long.
Hayley Stone is an extremely talented writer who is able to combine two genres I didn’t expect to work together and make it work. It wasn’t 100% for me, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have its audience (at the time of writing I believe it has a 4.5 rating on Audible and Goodreads). I liked more than I didn’t like, hence the 3 stars. I would probably give it 3.5 but since I couldn’t exactly hit what bugged me, I had to leave that last half star off.
Make Me No Grave by Hayley Stone
Narrator: Oliver Wyman
Length: 10 hrs and 31 mins
Published by Audible Studios on November 20th 2018
Marshal Apostle Richardson faces off against bloodthirsty outlaws, flesh witches, ruthless vigilantes, and more in this gritty, magical re-imagining of the Old West.
Almena Guillory, better known as the Grizzly Queen of the West, has done plenty to warrant the noose, but US Marshal Apostle Richardson enforces the law, he doesn't decide it. When a posse tries to lynch Almena ahead of her trial, Apostle refuses their form of expedited justice - and receives a bullet for his trouble. Almena spares him through the use of dangerous flesh magic but escapes soon after saving him.
Weeks later, Apostle fears the outlaw queen has returned to her old ways when she's spotted terrorizing Kansas with a new gang in tow. When cornered, however, Almena makes a convincing case for her innocence and proposes a plan to take the real bandits down. Working with a known killer opens Apostle up to all sorts of trouble, not the least being his own growing attraction toward the roguish woman. Turning Almena away from vengeance may be out of the question, but if he doesn't try, she'll wind up right where the law wants her: at the end of a rope.
And if Apostle isn't careful, he'll end up joining her.
If you like Red Dead Redemption and Lila Bowen's Wake of Vultures, you'll love this gun-blazing weird Western.
I received this book for free. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.