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Smoke and Other Storms by @Ninjenaiya is a recommended read #fantasy #weirdwestern #bookboost
Title SMOKE AND OTHER STORMS (The Revere Trilogy #1)
Author J.L. Delavega
Genre Fantasy (subgenre: Weird Western)
Publisher City Owl Press
Welcome to the Rim.
Come seek your fortune in a paradise of endless sun. Land is cheap and the possibilities endless, where the edge of the map meets the end.
The mining campaigns always forget a few details. Moon Season makes storms volatile. You’re more likely to be killed by your neighbor than strike a crystal vein, and there’s only one name you should bother knowing around here: Revere.
Moira and her granddaughter Adelaide are professionals. Smugglers, thieves, and arms dealers, the Revere women have lifted their family business from the dust, and with their train they’ve become the most notorious gang in the territory.
After an accident damages her sister’s eyes, Adelaide finds an opportunity that will not only pay for a sight-saving operation but pull the family from the shadows of the back market for good. Accompanied by her sisters, Adelaide guides a survey crew into the uncharted West Rim –a poisonous desert concealing untapped riches– with the full intent to claim the fortune for themselves.
But when Moira learns a bounty has been placed on the family, she discovers a deeper plan already in motion that will change the Rim forever.
I was born with two shadows. One is thrown by the sun. The other is the Stranger.
The dried brush hugs the abandoned walls as I leave the rough grass and walk toward the fort, a thing of dust and focus. It looks dead, but there is a difference between things that are dead and those that only appear that way.
Twenty-nine—the number of steps I take before the fort shadow hits me. The Stranger counts them for me.
Few people can see her. But she’s always with me. Watching my back, counting my steps. It’s not enough to notice details if you can’t remember them later. The Stranger remembers everything. She is a second pulse, sensing danger, sharp edges that frighten others. The one thing my mother managed to give me.
My shoulder to the bleached wall, I listen deeper. Around me, the Rim hisses behind a slow-moving wind. Behind the fort’s chipped stone is silence. I drag my scarf off my face and whistle to my sister Leagan waiting downslope with the wagon.
We are alone, the Stranger confirms.
Rock cracks as the horses get moving.
I slip my hand through the gap to lift the plank from the inside slot, walking the gate open as the wagon rolls inside.
Leagan hops from the high seat, landing with a fresh cloud of dust. Her face is muffled with a blue scarf and goggles. The right eye is a red sniper’s lens with distance dials, the left all-purpose amber to dull the sun.
I drop the plank back into its slot and shake the gate. There will be no surprises from behind.
The smuggler’s cache is in the jail room.
“Eighty-six crates of Exodus brand ammunition…” Leagan tugs at one of her buns and stabs another pin through it. “And we get to carry all of them. Thanks a fart-load to our favorite arms dealer, Raleigh.”
Leagan’s hair is fire red, twisted on top of her head like two cinnamon buns, lipstick always black. The colors of her two moods. “You’re my favorite arms dealer.”
And she blushes.
The familiar tic rises in my chest with each step. It doubles when my gaze makes a pass over the other five doors facing the courtyard. The Stranger again.
I’ve picked through all those rooms before, but the Stranger won’t let me leave here without doing it again. It’s always been this way.
After we get the ammo dug up and loaded.
I sweep open the door ahead of Leagan. Bottles and piss still lurk in the corners. Another gang was here not too long ago. I drag away the flabby mattress covering the recently disturbed dirt in the first cell.
“Catch.” Leagan tosses the shovel.
The wooden lid peels back, and the tang of metal hits me. Loose dirt continues to trickle in around the ammo boxes. Rows of fresh, brass-capped lead. Heavy. Not something an unprepared bone picker just walks away with. But I look into the entire top layer of boxes, to be sure no one got to this before us.
Leagan breathes in the gunpowder, humming as she closes her hazel eyes. “Fresh.”
An earthy whistle scours across the wind. I go still.
“Did you hear that?” Leagan eases a hand toward the rifle on her back.
It sounded like a train. But the Stranger and I know better than to turn our backs to a stray sound. “Stay with the stash.”
The midday sun is beginning to burn through my back despite my clothes. Pieces of my white hair stick to my neck as I reach the top of the wall.
A train glides southwest along the red bank of the river Sol, a copper snake. Against the clear sky, both smoke and steam spread dark blue, but straight out of the stack, at its most concentrated point, it looks like boiling midnight. Black means it’s burning Hannah’s pyrite quartz, better known as black gold.
East blood—prospectors, settlers, and fools.
The cars spool around the rock bend, out of sight. Heat ghosts twist the hillsides out of place, false pools of water appearing under them, but the sage-bristled landscape near us doesn’t move.
The sun is strongest during Moon Season. Even under the wide shadow of my hat, my neck has a hot pulse. I’m definitely burning.
“Well?” Leagan says.
“Train. Headed for Vantage.”
“Alkaline.” Her smile slants. “Enjoy the Rim, you fools.” She holds out a bottle of Sun Fire whiskey. “I think this is supposed to be our smuggler’s bribe.”
“Lucky for Aunt Tess.” She’s the only one who drinks that sludge and likes it.
“Aunt Tess isn’t here hauling this. Next time they should send us something we can all enjoy. Silver pinchers.”
“Oh, I don’t know…” Leagan grabs another crate. “Some books…or a puppy.”
“Tell Raleigh. I’m sure he can find one for you.”
“I’ll tell him to stop working with such a cheap-ass supplier. It just makes him look bad. I think by now he owes me a dog and you a horse because we always get stuck doing the wretched heavy-lifting jobs.”
“A horse doesn’t fit on the train.”
“A dog would. We can share it. And name it…Barley.”
The bed of the wagon gets lower as we fill it.
“You know why we’re here?” I ask.
“Because no one else can actually lift these besides us.” I squeeze Leagan’s flexed arm. “They just won’t admit it.”
“Still,” she says. “It’s the bribe that counts. And I’m not feeling very persuaded.”
Buy Links (including Goodreads and BookBub):
Universal Book Link (all retail sites): https://books2read.com/Revere1UBL
J.L. Delavega.com: Smoke and Other Storms -SIGNED (Paperback) | J.L. Delavega (jldelavega.com)
City Owl: https://smarturl.it/Revere1CO
J.L. Delavega is the dark fantasy author of SMOKE AND OTHER STORMS, book one in the Revere Trilogy.
Raised in the woods, she learned how to build a campfire, not play sports, and wrote about talking cats, pioneers, cursed caves, gold robbers, superhumans, and other mysteries. They were not good. She also doesn’t remember learning how to read, so it is possible she was born with that ability.
Her soul belongs to the desert, mountains, and cats. When not writing she makes other stuff like historical clothing and believes Victorian era fashion should absolutely make a comeback, as long as sweatpants still exist. She loves the smell of hot pines and vowel sounds, which are the most interesting part of language.
Social Media Links:
-Website: Home | J.L. Delavega (jldelavega.com)
-Facebook Reader’s Group: Friends and Accomplices, J.L. Delavega Readers: https://www.facebook.com/groups/691125869094345/?ref=share_group_link