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Reviewed by Jamie Michele for Readers' Favorite
Janie by Kendall Roberts begins with Janie De Casas, Will Covington, Finn Hennessy, and David McPhail facing an ambush during a robbery mission by Governor Hogg's agents. Janie's troubled past becomes a troubled future when plans for a new life are shattered by Will being fatally shot. Hogg introduces Janie to the existence of other worlds, hinting at secrets. Janie then explores alternate realities, encountering different versions of her companions and her feelings for Will. Janie's ambitious journey includes elements like interactions with Klah, a spirit guide, a talisman, and a series of confrontations. Along the way, Janie's role in protecting women at Henrika's ranch and her complicated feelings for Madison are tested. However, when Janie agrees to meet Agent Macon in Endurance, a deadly standoff brings all she's endured and what she stands to lose to the forefront.
Oh, I love a good Western, but when you add in the metaphysical and a strong, worthy female protagonist, you get the likes of the wonderful Janie by Kendall Roberts. The otherworldly elements are grounded in the concept of alternate realities, with Janie discovering the existence of other worlds and learning to navigate between them through her blue bracelet. The Western pieces unfold in glorious gunfights, dust, and ambushes, as well as in Roberts's immersive landscapes that often verge on cinematic. “In a matter of days, all the thirsty plants would push forth flowers of gratitude, and brilliant oranges and yellows and pale blues and purples would wash across the desert just as the storm had done.” As much as it pained me when they happened, I loved that Roberts has Janie experience conflict and betrayal across multiple worlds. Robert's writing is clean, frequently poetic, and always engrossing, and with gunslinger Janie at the helm of a hero's journey, the novel is a fantastic escape to get lost in. Very highly recommended.