Title: My Calamity Jane
Series: The Lady Janies #3
Author: Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, Jodi Meadows
Genre: YA, Retellings
Published: June 2nd, 2020 (Harper Teen)
Synopsis: Welcome to 1876 and a rootin’-tootin’ America bursting with gunslingers, outlaws, and garou.
JANE (a genuine hero-eene)
Calamity’s her name, and garou hunting’s her game—when she’s not starring in Wild Bill’s Traveling Show, that is. She reckons that if a girl wants to be a legend, she should just go ahead and be one.
FRANK (*wolf whistle*)
Frank “the Pistol Prince” Butler is the Wild West’s #1 bachelor. He’s also the best sharpshooter on both sides of the Mississippi, but he’s about to meet his match. . . .
ANNIE (get your gun!)
Annie Oakley (yep, that Annie) is lookin’ for a job, not a romance, but she can’t deny there’s something about Frank she likes. Really likes. Still, she’s pretty sure that anything he can do,
she can do better.
A HAIRY SITUATION
After a garou hunt goes south and Jane finds a suspicious-like bite on her arm, she turns tail for Deadwood, where there’s been talk of a garou cure. But things ain’t always what they seem – meaning the gang better hightail it after her before they’re a day late and a Jane short.
For the boat rockers, the rule breakers, and the troublemakers.
No one ever became a legend by blending in.”
The third installment in this unique series brings us the story of Calamity Jane. Wild Bill’s Wild West is a show that travels around putting on exhibitions of sharpshooting. This is however a cover for the group of garou (that is, werewolf) hunters tracking down the leader of the Pack, only known as the Alpha who has been running wild biting and turning humans. Jane, along with Wild Bill Hickok and his son Frank arrive in Mississippi following a lead and after a hunt goes awry, Jane finds out that she has been bitten. When she hears rumours of a cure for garou, she takes off immediately for Deadwood, but things aren’t what they seem and the rest of the crew are in hot pursuit as she is running straight into even bigger trouble.
“That brings us to the three not-so-typical teenagers this story is really about: a dashing young feller trying to follow in the footsteps of her famous father, an amibitious-but-charming sharpshooter determined to prove herself, and a hotheaded but tenderhearted girl who’s fixin’ to get tangled up in a few dangerous plots of her own.
Get ready to meet the real Calamity Jane.”
To be honest, Westerns have never been of particular interest to me so my background knowledge about Calamity Jane was very limited and I basically went into this story blind – a good thing, because I liked this version much better than the historical account I read. I mean, werewolves in the Wild West – taking what would otherwise be a rather routine story and adding a supernatural element to it works just as well with this as with My Plain Jane. The wonderful narration style is undoubtedly what carries the book and keeps the story going. The family themes are quite strong – it depicts how all these characters who really have no relation to each other at all come together as a family and are willing to sacrifice anything for each other, and it’s absolutely lovely. I’m quite curious about the TV show Deadwood now, as there were some jokes that were apparently referring to something from there and I have no clue what they meant. Also, despite Jane being the titular character, she wasn’t the central focus but one of three, which was an interesting choice. Both Frank’s and Annie’s voices were very well done, and their backstories were intriguing and well crafted too.
It was interesting how Jane and Annie are both strong female characters in their own way. Jane is a complete tomboy, preferring to dress in male clothes, outdrinking the best of them and basically defying every gender norm of the time. Annie on the other hand, is the complete opposite, loves her pretty dresses and maintains her manners – all the while being an awesome sharpshooter. While these extremes were both hard to relate to for me, they were still very entertaining. I did think however, that Annie was quite naive and it took longer than necessary for her to grow out of it.
I do enjoy how the authors put the most ridiculous twists in the tale – and in history – and it all still somehow results in a coherent story! Usually I hate it when stories go off on tangents but in this series and this book in particular, I really liked how the narrative veered off into present day comparisons and footnotes, especially the political jabs, even if it is completely out of place in a Western novel. This was quite an easy read if stretched out and a little predictable, as the hints dropped were quite obvious in my opinion, but it comes together in a story with some pretty powerful and thought-provoking messages.
Overall, while My Calamity Jane was not my favourite of the series (that will always be My Lady Jane – I still remember the fits of laughter it sent me into), it was a funny, engaging and refreshing read – not to mention, the ending is much happier than what it was in real life! This is the last book in this series, I believe, but I would not object to more such hilarious and imaginative retellings from these authors (maybe of characters not named Jane – they must be running out of options by now)! If you’ve enjoyed the previous books in this series, I would definitely recommend reading this one!
Have you read this book? Let me know in the comments below!
Other reviews in this series: