An Easy Death – by Charlaine Harris (Review)

Gunnie Rose #1

Thriller, Fantasy

Pocket Books; October 2, 2018

306 pages (HC)

3 / 5 ✪

An Easy Death is the hundredth book (or so) by Charlaine Harris, and the first in the Gunnie Rose sequence, following Lizbeth Rose, gunnie for hire. Despite the hype and the glowing recommendations of my friends and family, I had quite the issue with this novel. Took me almost two full months to get through. Not a bad read, really, but it certainly wasn’t perfect.

The fractured remnants of the United States host the scene for An Easy Death. Lizbeth Rose and her crew run protection gigs mostly, escorting families to and from new nations with the former US. But when her most recent job goes awry, Lizbeth Rose finds herself alone and outgunned. But she still has a job to do. And say one thing about Gunnie Rose, say she never abandons a mission.

But when the job is done, what will Rose do?

A pair of Russian wizards find her an answer, willing to pay top dollar to find the daughter of an outcast. Something about saving the life of their Tsar. But this mission could hit closer to home than Rose knows—and the Gunnie already knows too much about it. For she’s hiding secrets of her own, secrets that might make the wizards see her in a different light. But she takes on the job anyhow, because of course she does.

I think my biggest problem with An Easy Death is the language. Gunnie Rose is short, and I don’t just mean the length. Written like a thriller, description is clipped, minimal. The story is the big ticket here—the story and nothing more. An while the story is good—very good, in fact—it couldn’t carry everything. The Boy with the Porcelain Blade might just be the loveliest novel I’ve ever read. Writing-wise. Every word specifically chosen, no two repeated in the same sentence, the same paragraph. Reading it was like watching an awe-inspiring dance. A dance of words. But the story sucked. I mean, not “sucked”, it just wasn’t great. An Easy Death may well be its polar opposite. Subpar writing, good story. Now, I’ve read other books with amazing stories and poor writing. Like, bad grammar, misspellings, mistakes, punctuation and well, other issues. An Easy Death doesn’t suffer from any of these, it just doesn’t have good description or language. In my opinion.

Another issue I had with the language is the dialogue. Not all of it, mind. Mostly it’s fine. Western, easy talk, with clipped, familiar language. But sometimes phrases don’t make a lick of sense. Like, none. Of course it’s when I go looking for them that I can’t find any examples. Sufficient to say that some ill dialogue can interrupt the flow of a story, even a good one. And when the world around it is built in shades of grey… well, it just didn’t work for me.

Characters were something that I was torn on. Lizbeth Rose was the strongest. As the lead, this was unsurprising. Next strongest were the two wizards—Eli and Paulina. But mostly Eli. Otherwise, there was Rose’s mother, and… no one. Harris built a few of her characters the strongest. Fortunately, they’re the ones we spend 95% of the time with. Other characters come and go—never really seen and easily forgotten. Little backstory, no detail. No even a flash in the pan. Just there and gone. I… I’m torn on this. On one hand, the story has complete, well made characters. Really no arcs to speak of, but the tale’s a short one. I’m looking forward to some kind of development between the first Gunnie Rose and the second. On the other hand… I felt like the plot of An Easy Death suffered because of it. Because of the lack of detail. Because of the shadow world. Because of the crowd of faceless characters.

The story was An Easy Death’s strongest feature. I have no complaints here. We get into the main story 60 pages in. The next 240 are a tear, pretty much up to the end. I had some trouble in the interim, but I’m like that sometimes. And there might’ve been extenuating circumstances, that we won’t get into. A thrill ride, certainly, an entertaining read by itself. No issues.

TL;DR

An Easy Death features an inspired story set in an uninspiring wasteland. A hit or miss equation, it missed me. The story may be an amazing thriller, but the world-building is absolute shit. It’s bad. Like, really bad. I’m interested to see what the 2nd Gunnie Rose is like. So far I’m ~10% in, and it’s okay. Another rollercoaster, but once again light on detail. But it’s waaay too soon to judge. I hope to find some character development, some world-building the first book just glossed over. I want to count Gunnie Rose as a potentially good fantasy series. But, it’s not happening. Frankly, An Easy Death summarizes my feeling for thrillers in general; an exciting ride while you’re there, but possessing no lasting appeal and is easily forgotten. I was hoping for more out of #2… but was ultimately disappointed. So, my recommendation: if you like fantasy and thrillers, give it a read. I know people who’ve liked it. I’m just not one of them.

A Longer Fall, Gunnie Rose #2, comes out January 14, 2020.

3 thoughts on “An Easy Death – by Charlaine Harris (Review)

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