Saintcrow sets this tale in an alternative history, wild west with the prim and proper Catherine Barrow Browne jumping off the stage coach in the backwater town of Damnation in search of her brother. She has been hired as the town’s schoolteacher (schoolmarm) and covertly searching for the brother who she has lost contact with. One of the first to greet her is the town’s sheriff Jack Gabriel and the handsome hero finds he is instantly attracted to the prickly, Bostonian teacher. It doesn’t take long before the town has all eyes on their newest resident and not just for getting on the wrong side of the owner of the local brothel for teaching ‘the whores their letters and numbers’ but also, for attracting quite a bit of trouble in the form of zombies and other nasties.
Damnation is harsh place with its baking heat, whipping winds that the very sound can drive a man crazy but more importantly where the dead have a habit of not staying dead. Zombies are rife in Saintcrow’s alternative universe and mancy and charter are used to contain the threat. I was never quite sure what mancy or charter was but guessed it was magic in its varying forms. Saintcrow is dedicated to Cat and spends a considerable amount of the story describing her wardrobe, her hair, her interplay with other characters, especially Jack. Again, Saintcrow likes to use jewellery and gems as inanimate characters almost with a life of their own but to a lesser extent than in The Iron Wyrm.
Cat is supposed to be searching for her brother but seems to spend more time flouncing around town and generally courting peril. There isn’t a lot of time spent looking for the missing brother but when Cat starts to look into her brother’s claim that is when the story heats up and in my opinion turns a bit weird. Both Jack and Cat have their secrets revealed in the final chapters to a most astonishing end.
I enjoyed reading The Damnation Affair but wasn’t gripped. Not to sound too trite I thought the story had a certain charm and was very quaint. I was however, completely surprised by the ending and while a perfect, happy ending would have been disappointing in its predictability I was just a bit disappointed in how Saintcrow chose to end this wild west tale.
This is a rootin’ tootin’ good read with a wild west setting which was a lent itself perfectly to the plot. There was a solid story which was quite enjoyable but I was a bit disappointed with the ending although saying that it was a complete surprise. The characters are likeable if not just a bit predictable but that is all part of the charm. I didn’t quite see the connection to the Bannon and Clare series apart from the Saintcrow’s fixation with glittery, sparkly jewels. An easy quick read and a great change from what I have been reading recently.
BOOKS IN SERIES ORDER
1. The Iron Wyrm
1.5 The Damnation Affair
2. The Red Plague Affair (2013)
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