Giddy-up! This feminist spin on a Western stars a gang of lovable outcasts who rob and plot in search of a better life.
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Why I love it
Anna North’s latest book is cottagecore in novel form. Think prairie dresses, herbal remedies, and women homesteading on the American frontier. If dressing like it’s 1894 doesn’t feel like your thing, I would note that, having finished this book in two sittings, I feel confident calling it a Western for people who don’t usually read Westerns.
Accused of witchcraft when she can’t conceive a child, Ada must choose: face a witch trial and risk being hanged, or join the Hole in the Wall Gang and become an outlaw. Turns out, the most fearsome outlaws this side of the Mississippi are just like her—women and nonbinary people ostracized for being “barren,” gender-nonconforming, or witches. Having learned holistic medicine from her mother, Ada becomes the Gang’s de facto doctor and assists with small robberies and wagon heists as she proves herself.
But petty theft is just the beginning of the Gang’s far-reaching, not to mention dangerous, plans. A rollicking adventure, a surprising love story, and a social commentary in the vein of The Handmaid’s Tale, this novel is full of both nuance and extraordinary compassion.
The day of her wedding, 17-year-old Ada's life looks good; she loves her husband, and she loves working as an apprentice to her mother, a respected midwife. But after a year of marriage and no pregnancy, in a town where barren women are routinely hanged as witches, her survival depends on leaving behind everything she knows.
She joins up with the notorious Hole in the Wall Gang, a band of outlaws led by a preacher-turned-robber known to all as the Kid. Charismatic, grandiose, and mercurial, the Kid is determined to create a safe haven for outcast women. But to make this dream a reality, the Gang hatches a treacherous plan that may get them all killed. And Ada must decide whether she's willing to risk her life for the possibility of a new kind of future for them all.
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Washington , DC
What an amazing book. A beautiful story of a group of misfits who refuse to be labeled by others. It’s got action, romance, humor, and such moving and thought-provoking stories. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
This is my first western. I don’t know that another will really hold a candle to it. Midwives, abortions, witches, lesbians. There’s something for everyone. I don’t have enough characters to express.
West Hollywood, CA
What a great read! It puts you in the middle of a “western” that conforms to our preconceived notions and then subverts it all by examining identity and gender and faith and race. It’s a great book!!!
Salt Lake City, UT
I love the west and the desert & spent many nights sleeping under the stars. This helped me envision & feel their struggle in the environment. Excellent character development & relationships ????♥️????
The story reminded me of a mature, queer companion piece to “Under a Painted Sky” by Stacey Lee. While not what I expected, I felt it accomplished a lot with its short length and left me wanting more.
A story of hurt and pain of learning & sacrifice. A story of love & commitment. The Hole-in-the-Wall gang brought me such deep joy and left a mark on me that I will always carry. Ada...“Watch and see”
Wichita Falls, TX
What a great page-turner! It goes to show the ripple effect in someone’s life, and how it can lead to places you never imagined. It also highlights a woman’s timeless resilience even in the old west.
I loved how quirky this novel was. It was like The Wild West meets the feminist movement peppered with some badass woman who fight for their rights and freedom at any cost. I really enjoyed this! 5⭐️
Out of my wheelhouse but quickly became a book I couldn’t put down. Loved that the character stayed so resilient and that the author didn’t have to over explain things - almost subtle about details.
i felt this story deep in my bones. i can not express how much Ada’s story effected me. for all the BAD women throughout history who were tormented for not fitting in... this is a love letter to you.
Thought this was a great read! I loved the Wild West setting, and the characters. While Ada is the main character, I like how we learn everyone else’s story as well and they life led them to the gang.
I absolutely loved this book! A giant YAASS for the inclusion of lgbtqi+ main characters. I am so in love with this story of how a young woman’s fate is decided for her and her fight to live in peace.
Dystopian wild west world following a flu epidemic. Since many people died, barren women were outcasts. Our heroine Ada travels a meandering path from a convent to the infamous Hole in the Wall Gang.￼
I didn’t expect to learn so much about rural medicine, misogyny, & lengths outsiders had to go to to stay safe. Knowing the gang VS seeing news about them makes me wonder what other history is false.
Ewa Beach, HI
Beautiful story, outlines well what’s it like to be strong and independent, while at the same to need the people closest to you. I felt all the sorrow and heartbreak right along with the characters.
This was a really great book. I didn’t know what to expect when I started it, but as it went on I found myself immersed in it. This isn’t your typical western. I think it would make a great movie!
4.5/5 stars. An unusual premise that turns a traditional Western on it’s head (a genre I don’t even like). Full of strong, memorable characters who don’t conform to society’s many expectations.
Bryn Mawr, PA
Wow wow wow!! I read this all in one sitting. I don’t typically go for Westerns but I took a chance on this one—i’m so glad I did. I absolutely loved this! Amazing characters, great story. 10/10.
I read this over the weekend on a camping trip in Arizona and I couldn’t have dreamed up a more fun read for the trip. I loved everything about this and wish there were more westerns about girl gangs
What an amazing story! Though it covers many important topics, this fun & entertaining novel is ultimately about acceptance & following your calling, no matter what, and that’s a beautiful message.