I’ve been part of Sophia Minetos’ launch team over the past few months, and I received a free copy of Graves for Drifters and Thieves to review.
Halston Harney is my favourite character. Nowadays, for whatever reason, when I read books written by others, I often don’t have a favourite character. It’s odd. Years ago, within a few chapters, I always found a favourite character. I’m not sure why I don’t anymore. I was pleasantly surprised when I found one in this book.
Westerns are one of my favourite genres. I grew up reading the old western novels my oldest brother had bought. I also read western comics, such as Jonah Hex, and watched western television shows (Bonanza, Gunsmoke, The Lone Ranger, Dr. Quinn) and movies (Young Guns and every John Wayne and Clint Eastwood western). I’m also writing two western novels.
This made it easy to slip into Graves for Drifters and Thieves.
“Graves for Drifters and Thieves” by Sophia Minetos
This western is slightly different. It’s a mixture of western and fantasy. At first, it might feel a little unfamiliar when magic portals are created on the wild desert, but you’ll get used to it easily. If you’ve watched Cowboys and Aliens with Harrison Ford, you’ll know what I’m talking about as far as mixing genres.
This review won’t include spoilers, so I won’t provide any specific details, only give an overall review of the book.
The story opens with Jae Oldridge, age 15, witnessing the capture of her father by ghosts. One moment, they are riding through the forest and the next, ghosts sweep in and he’s gone. For the next few years, Jae travels the West searching for him. The night she encounters the thieving Harney Gang alters her path.
From there, the gang and Jae travel from town to town, robbing, running and chasing. Jae soon learns a man named Stirling is orchestrating the gang’s heists. This leads to other discoveries, and she’s sucked into the gang’s life-threatening adventures. Why doesn’t she leave? She is developing an attachment to the members. In other words, they’re becoming her friends.
If you’re a fan of insta-love, you may not like the romance in this book. It’s a slow burn romance; my favourite type. That’s all I’ll say on the topic to prevent spoilers.
Young Adult Series
This novel is labelled as a young adult book. There are a few killings in it – it’s a wild west western – but there are no gory details. The romance is extremely mild. There’s holding hands and mild kissing with no details. There is no nudity or suggestion of sex.
Kids as young as 12 could read this, and certainly kids 14 and up.
There are no F-bombs. There are a few instances when shit is spoken. I think jackass is also used, but that’s the extent of the language.
One of the things I found unique about this book were the stories, myths, legends—whatever you want to call them—woven within the big story. While some may play no part in the big picture, I’m hoping in future books, they do. What a wonderful way to set up an event if this is the case. There’s lots of names and places mentioned. I didn’t get hung up on them, committing them to memory, but the general idea of the myth remained.
I don’t know any culture that doesn’t have stories of their own to share. Whether we’re talking about King Arthur, Atlantis, Glooscap or Paul Bunyan, these stories have been passed down through generations. How much truth lives within them, we’ll never know. However, they are what makes us a people, a people with a long history often forgotten over the centuries.
My Amazon and Goodreads Review
Excellent Novel to Open a Series
Graves for Drifters and Thieves is a captivating story, one that slowly drew me into the lives of several characters. Within a few chapters, I had already chosen a favourite character: Halston Harney. The light touches of fantasy that mixed with the western kept me guessing as to where these characters came from and what world they now populated. Besides the living and breathing humans, there are evil warlocks, ghosts seeking forgiveness and other spirits found on the trail.
This is the first book in the YA Series, so there are still mysteries yet to be solved. However, it has a satisfying ending and if you read only this one, you won’t be disappointed. While a few characters meet their doom at the end of a pistol, there’s no gory details. The romance that develops throughout the book is mild with no inappropriate descriptions, making it suitable for anyone 14 years and older.
I loved the use of myths and legends told by characters to give them both backstory and a sense of long history within their culture. Whether they play a part in future events is yet unknown.
This is the author’s first book. As with every book I read by a new author, I wonder about their ability to keep me interested in their writing style. Within the first dozen pages, I knew that would not be a problem with this book. The author has a wonderful way with words. I believe she has a long career ahead of her. Here are just two examples of sentences that impressed me.
1) “Winter has yielded the last of its snow to the river’s silvery waters, and the current cut swiftly through the land. The cottonwoods cast their downy seeds into the air, dancing like snowflakes on the wind.”
2) After a member of the gang killed a bad guy named Wolf, this was his thought: “Wolf’s ghost entered his mind and took a seat.”
I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and look forward to future books by this author. I highly recommend it.
Release Day: Tuesday December 15, 2020
Graves for Drifters and Thieves is available for pre-order. It is released tomorrow and is available at several online locations, including…
Remember: Be kind to your future self.