Title: The Gunslinger
Author: Suchita Agarwal
Genre: Western, Fiction
The Gunslinger is a fast paced, action packed Western with trigger happy gunslingers, chases and unusual relationships. It has a wonderful storyline and subplots that are tied up neatly towards the end.
Lola, a ten year old is on the run after her parents are murdered brutally. She finds an unexpected protector in Hunter, the dreaded Gunslinger. It seems hate and revenge would catch up with them very soon as they run from impossible situations and formidable enemies. However, there are surprises in store. People who have been thought dead show up, enemies turn protectors and the final battle for revenge is much deeper and goes back much in time.
The story sweeps you along in a great rush of words. It starts right in the middle of the action and works backwards and forwards with such ease that you are taken along with the flow of words.
Like a true western, it has great action- guns, killings, chases and the pace never slackens. The backstory too has a brevity that would be typical of a laconic gunslinger. There is a detachment as well, especially in the scenes that show violence and again that suits the story and the setting very well.
The first few pages sets the stage for a seemingly simple chase and escape story, with a generous dose of revenge but as the story moves on, it surprised me with its twists and turns.
“She should have known Eastwoods took their quests, love and betrayal very seriously.”
And herein begins the saga that has its genesis before Lola’s birth to the present-day.
Nature’s elements are present in full form. This element of dependence on and oneness with nature is a recurring element.
“When you live with nature, you learn to read the signs. And as a reward, nature warns you when trouble is headed your way.”
The story has a very satisfying closure in terms of redemption, both material and emotional. The relationship of Hunter and the kid is very delicately handled, bringing out the nuances of the unusual and unexpected attachment between them.
What works well
The setting is superbly drawn out. The Gunslinger has every element of a Western thriller. The landscape, the chases and the fights add to a feeling of authenticity for the reader.
The characters are very well developed, not just in terms of their physical characteristics and linguistic quirks but also in an emotional sense. There are little touches that make the characters come alive for you- Lincoln and his weak eyesight, Lanky whose tongue has been cut off, the anger that Lola gives in to by throwing chairs at windows.
There is a wit that shines through the narration. The names of places, Highso and Lowso and their apparent discrepancies, characters like Twitchy-variant and boy-variant made me appreciate the writing even more.
The language is beautiful. Every now and then, it slips into the lyrical.
“She could hear the house scraping, like an old man trying to settle in an equally old chair.”
I liked the brevity and the efficiency of words. The writing is very crisp; there is absolutely no verbosity to slow the pace.
“Once they were sure she was safe, and out of earshot, the good cheer was thrown away like a mask at the end of a masquerade ball. Lines were drawn, Maggie with Fences, Romeo undecided, and Hunter, back to being the lone wolf that he was so comfortable being.”
A fast paced thriller with an adroit plotline and memorable characters, The Gunslinger delivers the very best that a Western can.
You can download the book here. It is free for a very limited time.