When I started reading, I wasn’t sure if this was a short story or just a sample. The cover says “World Devoured Part One”, so I was thinking this might be the beginning of a series or trilogy. I contacted the publisher (All Night Reads), and it turns out that Justice in a Dead Land is the first part of a serial, with each part being released on Mondays starting Oct. 13th.(The Amazon page has since been updated.)
That information shifted my opinion a bit. Mostly because, while I enjoyed it, as a book, I really don’t think this story would work. The pacing, character development, dialogue, etc. are all wrong for a book; however, they fit perfectly for a serial. They would also be perfect for a comic book or a TV show. Speaking of TV shows, while the beginning was reminiscent of Stephen King’s The Gunslinger, I kept thinking of Captain Mal from Firefly every time the main character,Penelope, spoke. It’s not that she comes off as mannish, but that her personality is similar. Though the story itself is very different, I’d say the setting, the kinds of situations the characters find themselves in, and the dialogue would have been perfect for Firefly, except Justice in a Dead Land doesn’t have space ships. That’s not a negative (unless you absolutely require space ships). I just don’t want anyone thinking it has everything Firefly had. There is magic, however, and the descriptions of it made me think of the Dust in Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy.
All of this, I loved. If anything, I’d say the only thing I’m a bit iffy on is that it feels more like YA Fantasy than it does any other genre. YA isn’t horrible, but I’ve read few YA books that I thought were good, much less that were great. I think that I will continue to enjoy the World Devoured serial, but it’s too early to tell. I’m definitely buying the next part to find out what happens though, and I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys quest narratives, independent comic books, or dystopian westerns.