I have recently enjoyed a few of the new Tim Pratt novels and I thought maybe I would go back and read some of his earlier works. As it turns out, this is apparently his first published novel (if my sources are correct).
This is the story of Marzipan (“Marzi”) – a young woman who writes and illustrates a graphic novel by the title of The Strange Adventures of Rangergirl. That book is what one refers to as ‘cowpunk’ – a hybrid of Western fiction and steampunk.
As you might imagine, writing and illustrating your own graphic novel doesn’t make for a big paycheck and Marzi does have another job as a night manager at a coffee shop. It is there that life gets a bit wonky for her when she begins seeing some of her characters (those she’s created for her graphic novel) in the coffee shop.
One of the things that Pratt does nicely here is blend the reality and the fantasy so that we’re always guessing. Is that really a crazy woman, or is this a flight of fantasy?
Pratt also makes the concept of Rangergirl and the graphic novel sound really fun. I don’t currently, regularly read any graphic novels, but if this existed I’d definitely want to check it out.
I’m by no means a Pratt expert, but I do think one can tell that this is an early book in the author’s career. It’s not the tightest of narratives and there is a fair amount of over-explaining. Mansplaining? This pulls away from the concept just enough to take away some of the enjoyment.
‘Cowpunk’ may be a new moniker (for me) but the concept has certainly been around. Anyone ever watch The Wild Wild West?
This was a casually fun read but I’m glad it wasn’t my introduction to Pratt – it would not have made me curious or anxious to read more of his work.
Looking for a good book? The Strange Adventures of Rangergirl by Tim Pratt is a fun, fast fantasy. Delightful in its own way, and good for a beach read, but not the sort of book you’ll be thinking about much past the last chapter.
* * * * * *
The Strange Adventures of Rangergirl
author: Tim Pratt
paperback, 416 pages