Book Review: A Longer Fall by Charlaine Harris
I received a review copy from the publisher. This does not affect the contents of my review and all opinions are my own.
Mogsy’s Rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Paranormal
Series: Book 2 of Gunnie Rose
Publisher: Saga Press (January 14, 2020)
Length: 304 pages
I’ve been looking forward to this second book of the Gunnie Rose series for a long time—after all, I loved An Easy Death and couldn’t wait for round two with Lizbeth, our badass gunslinging protagonist who makes a living as a mercenary in a post-apocalyptic, western-inspired alternate version of the United States. That said, I’m glad I kept my expectations somewhat in check, because A Longer Fall was probably not what it could have been. Entertaining, yes, but I wouldn’t say it takes the story or characters to the next level the way a sequel should.
When our story begins, Lizbeth has just signed on with another crew to escort a convoy and its cargo from Texoma to a town called Sally in Dixie. It was supposed to be a routine job, but enroute to their destination, their train was ambushed, many travelers were killed, and a precious crate with its mysterious contents was stolen. Her employer dead and her friends gravely injured, Lizbeth sets off on a mission to hunt down their attackers and discover what it was they stole that was important enough to kill for. That, and she’ll need to recover the box and make an actual delivery in order to get paid.
With the arrival of Eli Savarov, a grigori wizard from the Holy Russian Empire—and Lizbeth’s sort-of old fling—she knows she’s on to something big. Turns out Eli already knows about the missing crate, and he’s in town to find it too. Teaming up, the two of them pose as a married couple to investigate, Sally not being the kind of conservative place to tolerate a single, unaccompanied woman poking her nose around in their business. In fact, the town isn’t really too tolerant of anything, with sexism and racism very much alive and well in its people.
And well, that’s really all there is to the story. Up until the final few chapters, we mostly follow Lizbeth and Eli around town as they try to turn up any clues about the stolen cargo. Considering how dazzled I was by the setting in the first book, seeing so little of it this time around was a bit disappointing, and it was due to the limited scope of the story. While good sequels tend to build upon previous books, further developing the advancing the overarching plot of the series and its characters, A Longer Fall keeps us mainly in a holding pattern. In a way, it feels lacking in its “sequel status” and comes across half-hearted.
Speaking of which, I just didn’t feel whatever it was that was supposed to be between Lizbeth and Eli. Their relationship was downright bizarre, and calling it a romance doesn’t feel quite right. Hardly a chapter can go by without us being constantly reminded that the two of them have no future, even as they go at each other like rabbits. If there was supposed to be some tension, I just didn’t feel it. And I kept waiting, hoping that their strange dynamic would build up to something worthwhile, and well…I won’t spoil how things turn out, but let’s just say I was far from satisfied.
Then there was the ending, which felt so incongruous that I could probably take up a whole page just describing how surreal it all felt. First was the crate. Funny enough, I had been forewarned by other reviewers about this, but apparently I was still inadequately prepared because I literally let out a snort of incredulity the moment Lizbeth was confronted with the contents of the crate for the first time. Even more random was the novel’s overall resolution. After spending nearly three hundred pages with all manner of violent and brutal characters in this merciless blood-soaked world, I suddenly felt like I was thrust into the middle of one of my kids’ PBS cartoons. Just a really weird, jarring way to tie everything up.
And yet, despite what might seem like my trashing of the novel, I don’t want to make it sound like I didn’t enjoy myself or that this was a bad book. Because it wasn’t, really! I had a good time with it, and it was a fast read—perfect for when you’re in the mood for something mindlessly light and fluffy, perhaps.
Thing is, I had expected something a little more substantial. A Longer Fall didn’t quite deliver in that sense, mostly coming across like “just another book in a series” but it was still very entertaining, and at no time did I feel like it wasn’t worth reading or that it was wasting my time. To be honest, I actually had a lot of fun with the story, even if it meant a few chortles at its expense. At the end of the day though, I’m looking forward to more of Gunnie Rose and here’s hoping the next book will have more oomph.
More on The BiblioSanctum:
Review of An Easy Death (Book 1)