DEAD RECKONING – Mercedes Lackey & Rosemary Edghill
Young Adult Fiction
West Texas – 1867
Jett Gallatin rides into Alsop, Texas in her, so far, futile search for her brother who disappeared during the war. Dressed as a man, Jett is prepared for the trouble in each town she visits, knowing that her gunslinger attire and flashy stallion can bring out the worst in people. But she is completely unprepared when a hoard of zombies attacks the town, and it's only the bravery of her horse that saves her. Riding hell-bent for safety out of Alsop, she comes upon a campsite where a young woman and a man who looks like an Indian are camped. They are doubtful of her hysterical story, but welcome her to stay for the night. Jett wonders how they can sleep after her tale!
White Fox is a contractor who works as a scout for the Army. Captured as a child by the local tribe, he is now accepted by neither the Indians nor the whites. He is scouting for traces of survivors of townspeople who vanished from the face of the earth. When he finds the campsite of a lone young woman, he feels the need to stay and protect her.
Honoria Gibbons, Gibbons for short, is insulted that anyone would think she can't take care of herself. A brilliant scientist, she is traveling the west in her homemade contraption, a steam powered “Auto-Tachypode”, striving to disprove stories sent to her eccentric father in San Francisco. When a young woman dressed as a man rides into her camp hysterically screaming for them to run, Gibbons is determined to find out what scared the stranger. Obviously, there are no such things as zombies, and Gibbons wants to find the scientific answer.
The three set out for Alsop, much to Jett's dismay. What they find is a town completely deserted of any human or animal life, except for one recovering drunk in the jail. They release him and set up in the jailhouse. When White Fox leads them on the track of the mob that had attacked the town, they come to a ranch. Jett goes in alone and meets the people of the Fellowship of the Divine Resurrection, led by Brother Raymond. There is much to question about the set-up at the ranch, including buildings locked from the outside with the windows completely boarded up.
DEAD RECKONING is a combination of horror, steampunk, and adventure. It is non-stop excitement from the first chapter to the last. The three young characters are thrown together by accident, but begin working as a team very quickly. Well written, this novel is a quick read with a satisfying, if open-ended, conclusion.