• The Good: Lesbian cowboy librarians
  • The Bad: Thin world building; rushed romance
  • The Literary: Reinterpretation of an expected genre

In a future American western, Esther runs away from home when her best friend is hung for possession of resistance propaganda. The best friend Esther secretly loved. She hides in a Librarian’s book wagon and finds a world bigger than she could have imagined.

This delightful little novella is exactly what you think—rough cowboys, dangerous bandits, queer librarians riding horses from town to town. Ashamed of liking girls, Esther hopes by running away she can start fresh, but the Librarians she falls in with, Bet and Leda, are a lesbian couple, and the mysterious Cye, who prefers the pronoun they, catches Esther’s eye.

The gritty Old West backdrop hosts these inclusive characters surprisingly well. There are always people who don’t fit squarely in the molds society makes for them, and they skirt the edges, move from town to town, and take on different identities when it’s advantageous.

I wish there was more to the setting. We all know what the American west looks like, with horses and revolvers and sheriffs and water a highly prized commodity. But this takes place in the future, and I wish there was more evidence of our civilization and clues to what happened. Then there’s the State and the Resistance, and the country divided in a war, but the details are fuzzy and the conflict seems far away.

You’ll enjoy this cute well-executed little story with the tagline, “be gay, do crimes, circulate books”!