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The Big Thrill Recommends: BLADESTAY by Jackie Johnson

Recommended by Tracey Devlyn

Book Cover Image: BladestayDebut author Jackie Johnson’s gritty young adult novel, BLADESTAY, shoots readers into the brutal world of the Old West, where the line between good and evil is razor thin.

When a band of outlaws gallop into town, Theodora “Theo” Creed knows nothing in Bladestay will ever be the same again and makes a strategic decision to transform herself into a no-account boy named Teddy rather than face the gang as a woman.

Theo’s quick wit and fearlessness win her the admiration of August Gaines, the brutal outlaw leader who will stop at nothing to find the man who betrayed him years ago.

When Theo learns a group of men, including her father and brothers, escaped to get help from the next town, she’s hopeful the nightmare will end soon. Until Gaines learns his quarry is one of the men who fled with her father, and he now aims to kill them all.

Theo’s cunning charade works all too well, and she finds herself part of the feral pack hunting down her family. During her journey, she learns something about herself—she’s as ruthless, and deadly, as anyone in the gang.

As they race over the rugged Colorado landscape, Theo’s drawn to the handsome outlaw Sixer. He shows her moments of kindness, even as he’s penetrating her disguise. However, her most disturbing discovery is how much she has in common with the gang’s charismatic leader, Gaines. Both of them will stop at nothing to accomplish their goals.

Theo begins to wonder if she’ll have the will to stop them or if she’s destined to sink deeper into the darker side of her soul.

Johnson did an amazing job of keeping the reader guessing how Theo will handle the eventual clash between her family and the outlaws. The author’s atmospheric writing and nobody’s-safe approach to storytelling has carved out a unique niche for herself in the young adult genre.

Recommended reading accessories: A strong beverage of choice, an open mind, and a locked-in seat belt.

Fans of the movie True Grit will enjoy Johnson’s strong, witty protagonist in her debut novel, BLADESTAY.


The Big Thrill Recommends: BLADESTAY by Jackie Johnson

Tracey Devlyn