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The Crucible meets True Grit in this riveting adventure story of a fugitive girl, a mysterious gang of robbers, and their dangerous mission to transform the Wild West. In the year of our Lord 1894, I became an outlaw. 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. B The Crucible meets True Grit in this riveting adventure story of a fugitive girl, a mysterious gang of robbers, and their dangerous mission to transform the Wild West. In the year of our Lord 1894, I became an outlaw. 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. Featuring an irresistibly no-nonsense, courageous, and determined heroine, Outlawed dusts off the myth of the old West and reignites the glimmering promise of the frontier with an entirely new set of feminist stakes. Anna North has crafted a pulse-racing, page-turning saga about the search for hope in the wake of death, and for truth in a climate of small-mindedness and fear.


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The Crucible meets True Grit in this riveting adventure story of a fugitive girl, a mysterious gang of robbers, and their dangerous mission to transform the Wild West. In the year of our Lord 1894, I became an outlaw. 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. B The Crucible meets True Grit in this riveting adventure story of a fugitive girl, a mysterious gang of robbers, and their dangerous mission to transform the Wild West. In the year of our Lord 1894, I became an outlaw. 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. Featuring an irresistibly no-nonsense, courageous, and determined heroine, Outlawed dusts off the myth of the old West and reignites the glimmering promise of the frontier with an entirely new set of feminist stakes. Anna North has crafted a pulse-racing, page-turning saga about the search for hope in the wake of death, and for truth in a climate of small-mindedness and fear.

30 review for Outlawed

  1. 4 out of 5

    noelle

    This book was fun but I can’t help feeling like I didn’t get all the answers I wanted by the end :-/ definitely want to read more westerns now though!

  2. 4 out of 5

    emma

    Maybe I just don't like Westerns. As it turns out, I don't think I've ever read one of them. And I don't really like historical fiction, because it often means I'm putting myself in the narrative shoes of someone who is unable to take daily showers with hot running water, and that's no type of thing I want to imagine. I kid, I kid. But really there is something about a deliberately old-time-y writing style that just does not do it for me. And this book...I don't know. I couldn't keep any of the cha Maybe I just don't like Westerns. As it turns out, I don't think I've ever read one of them. And I don't really like historical fiction, because it often means I'm putting myself in the narrative shoes of someone who is unable to take daily showers with hot running water, and that's no type of thing I want to imagine. I kid, I kid. But really there is something about a deliberately old-time-y writing style that just does not do it for me. And this book...I don't know. I couldn't keep any of the characters straight. I misremembered myself as having listened to this as an audiobook even though I read a physical copy, because I felt so disinterested it was hard to pay attention. That never happens to me. The writing was unpleasant for me to read, the characters all felt the same, and overall this felt so bananas unrealistic I didn't know what to think. Top to bottom, this felt like fantasy more than it felt like it was supposed to be based on anything that possibly could have occurred ever. And not in a fun way. More in an "I think I am going to lose my mind over this, and what an inane thing to do that over" way. You know, like, "If this is finally the one thing that pushes me over the edge and gets me committed, everyone in the ward is going to think I'm such a snooze. I'll be the least popular person there. They won't let me sit at the cool kids table, and then what will I have?" Also I was bored. Never a good sign when I'm assigning myself 100 pages a day like it's homework. Bottom line: This is an unpopular opinion. ------------------ pre-review not to be rude, but...if i had judged this book by its cover i would've expected not to like it much. review to come / 2ish stars ------------------ tbr review queer feminist gang of outcast women in the Wild West = the book i never knew i needed (thanks to the publisher for the ARC)

  3. 4 out of 5

    Miranda N. Benson

    This book is like an under seasoned meal: it’s fine, it’s edible, it has all the right ingredients. But it’s just...not good. My issues arose early, particularly with the narrative voice: while it has a few fun moments (“in the year of our lord 1984, I became an outlaw” works perfectly in context), those moments are overshadowed by monotonous exposition. There are too many “my ma once said” and “when I was a little girl” stories for my liking. Part of the reason this doesn’t work for me is becau This book is like an under seasoned meal: it’s fine, it’s edible, it has all the right ingredients. But it’s just...not good. My issues arose early, particularly with the narrative voice: while it has a few fun moments (“in the year of our lord 1984, I became an outlaw” works perfectly in context), those moments are overshadowed by monotonous exposition. There are too many “my ma once said” and “when I was a little girl” stories for my liking. Part of the reason this doesn’t work for me is because Ada is boring. She’s a very inactive character, and when she does actively make choices, there is little to no expressed emotion and no explanation. The rest of the gang Ada joins is marginally better because they’re at least more excited about being in an outlaw gang, but they’re hardly fleshed out. I kept confusing them with each other. Perhaps the worst part of this book for me is how it’s been heralded as “feminist” while failing to make any bold claims on gender or sexuality. People are defined in terms of whether they can reproduce, but none of the characters struggle with the question of their gender, even though many find they can’t reproduce. The Kid is the only character who approaches any questions of gender, but the author seemed more concerned with the Kid’s B plot about their mental state to really dig in. It’s not that they have to address it, but it feels like a wasted opportunity in a book that’s hailed as feminist. It comes to the brink of asking a question, but shies away before anything important can be asked. And on the topic of feminism, there’s only the slightest hint at any kind of intersectionality. Maybe two times in the book, race is acknowledged. Once it is glossed over as Ada realizes “oh I guess I grew up in a racist town.” In the second, she tries to white savior her friend in front of some eugenicists and her friend rightly chews her out for it. Again, this all feels like a half-hearted effort: there’s so much potential to have a racially diverse gang of women and trams folks in westerns! But this author doesn’t even acknowledge native Americans (there is one native character, he’s a trader, and that is his entire personality), so it’s no surprise she doesn’t engage with tougher issues on intersectional feminism. I’m disappointed to say the least, and will be remiss to pick up another book with a “feminist!!!!” marketing gimmick again unless I’ve heard good things from trusted readers.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Angela M

    3.5 stars rounded up. “In the year of our Lord 1894, I became an outlaw.” That opening line pulled me in and the writing held me there the rest of the way. This is not your typical western, nor is it a factual account of the Hole in the Wall Gang . If you’re looking for truly realistic historical fiction, this isn’t it . It’s an imagined, alternate version of history, which while at times seemed a little out there, I found it to be thought provoking and interesting. Religion of the day is the bel 3.5 stars rounded up. “In the year of our Lord 1894, I became an outlaw.” That opening line pulled me in and the writing held me there the rest of the way. This is not your typical western, nor is it a factual account of the Hole in the Wall Gang . If you’re looking for truly realistic historical fiction, this isn’t it . It’s an imagined, alternate version of history, which while at times seemed a little out there, I found it to be thought provoking and interesting. Religion of the day is the belief in Baby Jesus and that a woman’s fate is tied to her ability to bear children, influenced by an enormous number of deaths from the flu 😳. A woman’s role was to bear children and even though seventeen year old Ada, married at seventeen, has a calling as a midwife and healer, she is not allowed to pursue that because she has not been able to get pregnant. Her choices are limited : face incarceration or worse yet hanging, enter the convent or join an outlaw gang of women, exiled because they could not get pregnant. “If a woman did her duty by her husband and baby Jesus and still did not become pregnant, then most likely she had been cursed by a witch - usually a woman who, barren herself, wanted to infect others with her malady.” Of course , I had to see if I could find any historical references tying witchcraft with infertility and I found this article which mentions it as one of the reasons women in history were accused of witchcraft: https://historycollection.com/18-reas... I loved Ada’s inquisitiveness about women’s medical issues, her intelligence and her clear sense of herself. There are a lot of characters here and what was missing was a more in depth characterization of them, except Ada and the Kid, the leader of the gang. I liked that even though an alternative history, it reflected the plight of these barren women. Hard to love outlaws and condone their criminal activities, but equally as hard to accept the injustice and harsh treatment of innocent women. It was heartbreaking to think that Ada wouldn’t ever see her family and might never be able to practice as a midwife, but I thought the ending was fitting. I will give it 3.5 stars and round up to 4. A lot of ground is covered here, maybe a little bit too much - religion, homophobia, racism. While some of those issues were only touched on, the focus on strong women came through loud and clear. This alternative history was different to say the least, but I’m glad I read it. I realized just before I started reading this that North also wrote The The Life and Death of Sophie Stark. I had mixed feelings about that novel, but I can say that enjoyed this one more. I read this with Diane and Esil and it’s one we didn’t fully agree on, but we all liked and felt for Ada. A great discussion as always. I received an advanced copy of this book from Bloomsbury Publishing through Edelweiss.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jessica Woodbury

    3.5 stars. I think this is one of those books that suffered somewhat because I had a different vision for it than the author did. And that's okay, but I suspect some other readers will have a similar feeling. It's a Speculative Western, set in an alternate America where a massive flu wiping out much of the population has led to a heavy lean into fertility patriarchy, making women with fertility issues cast out at best and victims of horrible vengeance and violence at worst. Our protagonist, Ada, 3.5 stars. I think this is one of those books that suffered somewhat because I had a different vision for it than the author did. And that's okay, but I suspect some other readers will have a similar feeling. It's a Speculative Western, set in an alternate America where a massive flu wiping out much of the population has led to a heavy lean into fertility patriarchy, making women with fertility issues cast out at best and victims of horrible vengeance and violence at worst. Our protagonist, Ada, finds herself one of these cast out barren women, eventually ending up with a gang of outlaws. At first blush, this gang looked to be a kind of nonbinary utopia, where no one was bound by the sex they were assigned at birth, where some dressed as men and others as women, where some saw themselves as neither or both. But with no cis men there, and plenty of kisses and romance exchanged, there was a kind of rebellious perfection. Buuuuuuuuut that isn't really how it ended up. It was just where my brain started going one way and the book started going another. If you give me something that could be a queer utopia I am gonna get a little stuck on that concept even if the book is not. Queerness is secondary here to the issues of fertility. That one thing is of such importance that there is little consideration of how fertile women are trapped by this kind of system, too. It has a kind of starry-eyed romanticism to it that is not unexpected from a Western but is somewhat surprising in one that has this kind of setup. Many of the "barren women" we encounter were at one time married, and most of them describe it as a happy or at least potentially happy experience marred by their inability to have children. There is also one major cis man character who is somehow not like other men and the reveal on that... I get it but also I did not like it. There are so many opportunities here to consider the many ways this kind of society is bad, but it stays strangely limited. I liked the gang, a riff on the Hole in the Wall Gang. (There is a Butch joke in here somewhere, I just know it...) With a sweet, solid Cassidy and a fiery preacher-type Kid and a News and a Texas, and that is quite fun, although I did get a little hazy on a few of the supporting characters and telling them apart. I liked the plotting and scheming and the attempts at robbery that don't feel romanticized at all. I liked a lot of the pieces of this book, I just wanted it to be more than the sum of its parts.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Renae

    TOXIC WHITE FEMINISM For a book that markets itself as a subversive alt-history tale, Outlawed is screamingly reductive, gender essentialist, and trans exclusionary. This book is the very definition of White Feminism, and it uses Black and queer women as set dressing and props for the cishet white protagonist’s own journey. In 2021, one would hope that a book whose stated purpose is to provide feminist social commentary would be able to offer a sensitive, intersectional view of its proposed topic TOXIC WHITE FEMINISM For a book that markets itself as a subversive alt-history tale, Outlawed is screamingly reductive, gender essentialist, and trans exclusionary. This book is the very definition of White Feminism, and it uses Black and queer women as set dressing and props for the cishet white protagonist’s own journey. In 2021, one would hope that a book whose stated purpose is to provide feminist social commentary would be able to offer a sensitive, intersectional view of its proposed topics. I’m willing to give Anna North the benefit of the doubt as to her intentions, but this ain’t it. Outlawed is the story of Ada, a young white woman living somewhere in an alternative version of the American West. In the mid-19th century, a mysterious Flu swept the United States of America and decimated the population. Now, individual towns exist as self-governed sovereignties, and an only-slightly distorted fundamentalist Christianity reigns supreme. In this dystopian setting, women serve only one purpose: to bear children. If a woman cannot get pregnant within a “reasonable” time after marriage, she is deemed barren and, often, is hanged as a witch. This is the fate that Ada walks into, when she fails to conceive within one year of her wedding. She is exiled from her town and permitted to live in a local convent, but eventually she grows dissatisfied with that life and leaves to join the notorious Hole in the Wall Gang, headed by a vaguely creepy cult-leader-like figure known only as The Kid. To begin with, Outlawed is incredibly heavy-handed in its agenda: in a society where child-bearing is of paramount importance, women are unfairly blamed for all fertility issues. Ada’s “goal” is to discover the cause of infertility, which she is sure cannot be blamed on either witchcraft or a curse from god. Beyond this simple mission, there’s not much to Ada’s character, and North certainly isn’t interested in developing either a well-rounded narrator or a complicated plot. I suppose that I could have gotten behind this narrative, but the problem is that North, like many white feminists, grows myopically attached to the single issue that confronts her cishet main character, and fails to place it in the wider context of an oppressive colonialist patriarchy. For instance, Ada wants to discover the cause(s) of infertility because she thinks that this knowledge might bring relief to women who are unfairly accused and mistreated. However, Ada is not interested in interrogating or dismantling the structural oppression that has reduced women in her society to glorified breeding machines. She does not ever seek to question a definition of “womanhood” that is dependent upon a person’s ability to give birth. Indeed: Ada’s thoughts and actions throughout Outlawed reinforce the gender essentialist viewpoint that the only “real women” are those who can have biological children. Because of Ada’s own presumed infertility, she doesn’t consider herself to be a woman—at one point, she comments that a milk cow is “more woman than I would ever be.” At no point does Ada rethink this position, nor do any characters explicitly or implicitly challenge her mentality. Outlawed accepts that to be a woman, you must be capable of successful gestation; any “subversion” that occurs is only within this larger framework. I think that we can all agree that feminism seeks to completely dismantle patriarchal structures, not make life “just a little easier” for those who are oppressed. The so-called “subversive” element of this novel is weaker than skim milk. I’ve also seen excitement regarding the inclusion of queer characters in the book. But let me be clear: there are some characters in Outlawed that are coded as queer, but this is not a story about queer people. This is Ada’s story, and North is only interested in queerness (and Blackness) as it relates to and furthers that character’s progression. Cishet white women are the intended audience, and their sensibilities are catered to and coddled at all costs. In fact, I would argue that the “queer utopia” that’s meant to be exhibited by the Hole in the Wall Gang is no more than a group of trans exclusionary radical feminists—hardly the stuff of dreams. Each member of the gang, including The Kid, was assigned female at birth, although some appear to be genderqueer and/or trans. When a queer cis male character is brought to the camp, it’s made very clear who is and is not allowed to join the gang: “Doing a job with him is one thing,” Cassie said, “but bringing him here? News, we’ve never had a man here before.” “What does that matter?” News asked. “Out in the world, I’m as much a man as he is. I don’t see you kicking me out.” “News, you know what I mean,” Cassie said. So, the message? The Hole in the Wall Gang is a safe-haven for AFAB characters who are oppressed by the patriarchy, but queer AMAB characters who are treated even worse just have to fend for themselves. Because, apparently, being born with a penis means you’re not permitted to be part of this so-called accepting and open group. Even worse! The male character in question (who is apparently bi/pan) was literally castrated for his sexuality. Castrated. Ada finds this out, and the very first thing she thinks about are extremely invasive questions about the appearance of his genitalia, his sexual function, etc.: I wanted to know exactly what they’d taken, and what was left; if he could still feel pleasure when he went to bed with someone; and what if felt like, to go through the world with such a wound. This voyeuristic use of a queer character’s actual torture as a method of piquing the cishet protagonist’s inappropriate curiosity was beyond out of line. And of course, North completely indulges Ada's line of thinking by having the character get naked, and she then proceeds to describe the situation “down there” in gory detail, on two separate occasions. Have we not been listening to trans people at all for the past several decades? What’s going on inside other people’s pants is not our business! Especially, you don’t get to use other people’s trauma as a “teachable moment” for your straight white narrator! I should add that the ultimate fate for this cis male character is...tragic death. After giving Ada her first sexual experience that isn't solely about reproduction, he dies. Tragically. Ada then takes her newfound sexuality and sad feelings about his death and "grows" from them. At no point are the trauma or emotions of this queer man seen on their own terms; only through the lens of "what is meaningful to Ada" do we experience this man's life. It's also worth noting that the members of the gang advocate for dressing up in men's clothing in order to trick gay men into having sex with them, which...again. Who cares if queer MEN are hurt so long as the Special Feminist Outlaws get their rocks off! I guess... My favorite bit of the plot (she says sarcastically) was when Ada’s whiteness truly reached its zenith. Apparently, a popular theory behind the cause of barrenness/birth defects in this dystopia is miscegenation. (North, I think, has bitten off waaay more than she could chew here.) Ada, of course, knows this to be false—interracial marriages are no more likely to be infertile than others. On one occasion, she and a fellow gang member are in the crowd while a traveling preacher spouts his racist pro-eugenics rhetoric; Ada decides to get into a vocal altercation with the man, which clearly puts both her and particularly her companion in danger. Later on, Ada’s friend, who is Black, tells her that she should have kept her mouth shut and not drawn attention to them. This is reasonable: why poke a hornet’s nest of racists when you have a Black friend standing next to you? Ada, being a crappy white "ally," insists that she was “just trying to help” and then remarks: “I’m sorry for trying to stand up for you,” I said, angry now. “I won’t make that mistake again.” “I don’t need anyone to stand up for me, Doctor. Certainly not you.” Ah yes, classic white savior behavior here. Rather than listening to marginalized people about what would best help them deal with their oppression, in comes Ada who clearly knows best. And then she gets angry when her clumsy (and damaging) attempts at allyship aren’t met with gratitude. Fuck you, Ada. At the end of Outlawed, Ada leaves the Hole in the Wall Gang. Just goes on her merry way to live the rest of her life. She literally endangers the lives of everyone in the gang, leeches their scant resources from them, and learns all of their acquired knowledge about horses, weapons, wilderness survival, etc.…then nopes out to continue her quest to find the cause of infertility. To reiterate: this book is about a white woman who uses Black and queer women to further her end goals and then leaves them high and dry—this is, in and of itself, an act of hostile colonialism. Do we ever see Ada reflect upon her actions? Do we see her readjust her concept of womanhood? Does she ever apologize for being a white savior who asks creepily intrusive questions about other people’s genitals and sex lives? Nope! But don’t worry, the narrative assures us that Ada goes on to have a successful career as a midwife/doctor in spite of the regressive cultural situation. A single hyper-privileged straight white woman thwarts the patriarchy, so feminism has been accomplished! Hooray! Right? In my opinion, Outlawed can take its exploitative white feminism and choke on its own bullshit. Fuck this book. 📌 . Blog | Review Database | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

  7. 4 out of 5

    Diane S ☔

    When I first started reading, having not read the book summary, I thought it was a post apocalyptic story. Had the beginning feel of the Hand Maidens tale of other as such. I then turned to the books summary and saw it was set in the late 1800's, a time when women had little power of their own and superstition was rife. There is much to like in this story: characters that one grows to care about, a fast paced story and women who seize their own destiny in unusual ways. It was also a mix up of genr When I first started reading, having not read the book summary, I thought it was a post apocalyptic story. Had the beginning feel of the Hand Maidens tale of other as such. I then turned to the books summary and saw it was set in the late 1800's, a time when women had little power of their own and superstition was rife. There is much to like in this story: characters that one grows to care about, a fast paced story and women who seize their own destiny in unusual ways. It was also a mix up of genres, history, alternative history, women's fiction and a Western. This, for me didn't work as well. My mind refused to knit together these disparate genres into a cohesive whole. Maybe my failure as a reader but I just couldn't completely relate. So, a mixed bag of a read, but different, a challenging viewpoint. The best part was reading with Angela and Esil, our sharing of ideas and thoughts.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Debbie

    Hot diggity, this is a kick! And so original! It grabbed me from the get-go and I became almost manic. I was ready to throw all my slow and plodding stories of contemporary angst and tragedy right out the window. I like weird and I like wild, and this book delivers both. I was so excited to see where this bizarre story was going—and I was shaking my head in awe as I witnessed this author’s huge imagination. Meanwhile, I can’t believe I read a western! I would have put money on that never happeni Hot diggity, this is a kick! And so original! It grabbed me from the get-go and I became almost manic. I was ready to throw all my slow and plodding stories of contemporary angst and tragedy right out the window. I like weird and I like wild, and this book delivers both. I was so excited to see where this bizarre story was going—and I was shaking my head in awe as I witnessed this author’s huge imagination. Meanwhile, I can’t believe I read a western! I would have put money on that never happening! It’s 1894 and we have a very likeable girl named Ada, who is forced to marry as a teen. In this society, you must have a kid or you’ll probably get hung as a witch. Christianity is in the picture, and although I hate books that have religion in them, this doesn’t have a lot. Ada isn’t pregnant after a year, so she is in deep doo-doo. She runs away and joins first a convent and then a gang of women outlaws living in the middle of nowhere (probably the southwest, I’m thinking). Most of the women are dressed like men, some are couples. The camaraderie among the outlaws is cool. I like how the gang teaches Ada the outlaw ropes. They do outlaw things--ride horses, shoot guns, rob. There are wounds, there is death. I didn’t like the violence part but they are outlaws, after all. I occasionally thought that Ada was too nice to be a badass gunslinger, but then I convinced myself that she had to be in order to make the story work. I thought, given Ada’s character, that she’d be a little more remorseful about the bad things they did, so that sort of stuck in my craw. The book sagged a little in the middle and my high disappeared for a bit. But it ended with a lot of action and I perked back up. I liked the fast pace, and the ending was very satisfying. I would say that the novelty wore off a bit as the story unfolded, but I still had to give the book 4 stars. The story shines a light on bad things like homophobia, prejudice, and being shunned (and imprisoned or killed) for not conforming. But it also covers good things like the love within a gang of women, the determination to survive and flourish, and the search for answers. (Before she became an outlaw, Ada was sort of a bookworm, trying to find a book that explains barrenness.) The tragic back stories of the characters were described well, and they got to me. There’s a character with a mental illness, and I thought that was well portrayed, too. North wrote The Life and Death of Sophie Stark and I loved it. I didn’t like this book as much, but still, it tickled me and was a breath of fresh air because of its originality. It managed to distract me from COVID and other bad stuff for a while, and that’s worth a lot. Thanks to Edelweiss for the advance copy.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Brandice

    It’s 1894 and after a year of marriage and failure to get pregnant, Ada is forced to leave her hometown under suspicions of being a (barren) witch. She spends a little time in a convent then moves on to join the Hole in the Wall Gang, a group of outcast women, displaced from their various hometowns for suspicions of witchcraft or other frowned upon reasons. The gang gets by through robberies and set jobs under the leadership of The Kid, a former preacher. They devise a big plan to change their w It’s 1894 and after a year of marriage and failure to get pregnant, Ada is forced to leave her hometown under suspicions of being a (barren) witch. She spends a little time in a convent then moves on to join the Hole in the Wall Gang, a group of outcast women, displaced from their various hometowns for suspicions of witchcraft or other frowned upon reasons. The gang gets by through robberies and set jobs under the leadership of The Kid, a former preacher. They devise a big plan to change their way of life and Ada must decide if the risks are worth it to her. I appreciate the fresh take Outlawed provided. The women are resilient, resourceful, and build a strong sense of community. While the story is original, I just didn’t love it — This could easily be an “it’s not you, it’s me” situation.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Ron Charles

    It still surprises me that some of my favorite novels are westerns. It no longer surprises me that they’re written by women. The territory once dominated by Zane Grey and Louis L’Amour has long since been opened up by Paulette Jiles, Mary Doria Russell, Molly Gloss and other women who have cut fresh trails in this old genre. The latest foray comes from Anna North, a reporter for Vox. Her new novel, “Outlawed,” stirs up the western with a provocative blend of alt-history and feminist consciousness It still surprises me that some of my favorite novels are westerns. It no longer surprises me that they’re written by women. The territory once dominated by Zane Grey and Louis L’Amour has long since been opened up by Paulette Jiles, Mary Doria Russell, Molly Gloss and other women who have cut fresh trails in this old genre. The latest foray comes from Anna North, a reporter for Vox. Her new novel, “Outlawed,” stirs up the western with a provocative blend of alt-history and feminist consciousness. The result is a thrilling tale eerily familiar but utterly transformed. The story opens in late 19th-century America, though not quite the Old West we know. In this version of our past, the Great Flu of the 1830s killed 90 percent of the U.S. population, snuffing out the Industrial Revolution and the federal government. A decimated nation was in no mood for Civil War; the few Black survivors of the plague escaped slavery on their own. And now, some 60 years later, the people remaining in the Dakotas have built a patriarchal Christian society centered on fertility. That may sound like “The Handmaid’s Tale” with saddles instead of bonnets, but North is working entirely in her own realm. The society she imagines has developed divergent theological myths and rites, like. . . . To read the rest of this review, go to The Washington Post: https://www.washingtonpost.com/entert...

  11. 4 out of 5

    Connor

    DNF’d on page 118 specifically. Until that point, I was willing to overlook a lot. There are a lot of strange gender and gendering decisions, especially when there is a character in the synopsis who is not a man or a woman. A character that I don’t think was handled all that well, as far as I got. I was sold this book on the idea that it was going to be a gang of barren women and genderqueer people, so that it was all these people who are harmed by “being able to bear children” being the definit DNF’d on page 118 specifically. Until that point, I was willing to overlook a lot. There are a lot of strange gender and gendering decisions, especially when there is a character in the synopsis who is not a man or a woman. A character that I don’t think was handled all that well, as far as I got. I was sold this book on the idea that it was going to be a gang of barren women and genderqueer people, so that it was all these people who are harmed by “being able to bear children” being the definition of womanhood. But instead the gang is barren women and genderqueer people as long as they are afab. The Kid is first described to our narrator as a man, and when she meets The Kid (who is not given pronouns at all) she doesn’t perceive The Kid as a man or a woman just as a person, which was a decision I understood from the author as a way to respect a character who does not exist in the binary. Except, after that she suddenly misgenders The Kid just for the sake of explanation and then we are all told what genitalia The Kid is working with anyway. Which is. Exhausting. That The Kid and the narrator continue to constantly gender everything else from inanimate objects to the size of hands (even with women you know are large and, again, a character who isn’t a man or a woman at all) and the presence of calluses (as if we aren’t talking about a gang of outlaws and as if calluses aren’t from working)... just a bonus. I wanted to believe, and I am still willing to believe, that the kind of terf-y aspects in the book are in service of “this mentality is harmful” and not something more insidious. I really am. I think it’s possible. I want to believe that the narrator’s bad takes and rough opinions (“this cow was more woman than I would ever be”) are supposed to be a show of how she needs to be exposed to more of the world and needs to, and will, grow as a character. But then I got to pages 117-118, where three of these women start discussing how they have, can, and should disguise themselves as men (“that’s the best way to charm some men”), get into sexual relationships with cowboys who like other men (“plenty of cowboys like other cowboys”), and “do whatever you want to them, but your clothes stay on. And sometime while you are drinking together, you mention a horrible accident you were in a while back. Gored by a bull, whatever. That explains anything they feel or don’t feel on your body.” Because, “the good news is, most men are pretty stupid, and pretty gullible. They want to believe what you tell them.” So yeah. I do in fact draw the line at casual discussions of women tricking gay men into sexual interactions with them under false pretenses and, as a friend pointed out when the passage was sent to them, painting the queer men out to be the predators in that situation. As a trans man, and a queer man, absolutely not. I’m done. I thought I left girls trying to catfish gay men back in high school when they were doing it on the internet. I can’t go any further. Also, maybe don’t read if you have dysphoria/are worried about picking up new insecurities within dysphoria, I’d say especially if you are transmasc but since that’s what I know, I’m not sure it’s any worse. Definitely go read the reviews about the white feminism and racism in the book. Reading those after I quit, seeing what I didn’t get to and how the things I did continued to be handled? I’m even more solid now in dropping the book. I don’t have the input but I feel the need to mention it so you can go read those too if you haven’t. Also if it was sold to you as a sapphic book as I’ve also heard, I wouldn’t say it is. A lot of the women in the book are sapphic, but that does not include the main character and I believe she starts a romance with a man. (In the pages in question, she seems to confirm that she is in fact straight) That doesn’t discount that there are sapphic characters in the book, and I think we have all read a book for the gay side characters, but I do think it matters to say that it is in fact the side characters. Also the heists are not very detailed, the first one in plot is not discussed at all. The world building, in particular the danger that women are in vs the standing they have, and what places do and do not still exist in this alternate timeline- sometimes feels inconsistent. Some of the more brutal details or grim descriptions can come out of nowhere and feel edgy rather than genuine. And often enough something is repeated or over-explained in a way that feels like the author doesn’t doesn’t trust the audience to read and understand what she is writing. It can feel like you are being spoon fed information that you already picked up on a few pages ago. But in its defense there was one specific instance that felt that way the most, and I was probably being pretty critical following that, and of course I did dnf the book so these might not be issues that continue further in the book.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Cheri

    4.5 Stars At the age of seventeen, Ada has learned the art of midwifery from her mother, the midwife in the Town of Fairchild, and has been taught the female rules of ’lying with our husbands, how we should wash beforehand, and put perfume behind our ears, how we should breathe slowly to relax our muscles, and try to look our husbands in the eyes.’ Soon after her school days are over, she is married to a young man and the waiting begins, as everyone expects her to soon be bearing their first chil 4.5 Stars At the age of seventeen, Ada has learned the art of midwifery from her mother, the midwife in the Town of Fairchild, and has been taught the female rules of ’lying with our husbands, how we should wash beforehand, and put perfume behind our ears, how we should breathe slowly to relax our muscles, and try to look our husbands in the eyes.’ Soon after her school days are over, she is married to a young man and the waiting begins, as everyone expects her to soon be bearing their first child. When half a year has passed, Ada’s mother-in-law begins offering her advice on what she should do, and not do, in order to provide them with a grandchild, but she continues to fail to conceive. Barren women were subject to the same fate as witches, hanging, and Ada is faced with a choice between hanging and joining a convent. ’I began my criminal career there in the house of God, with a leaky pen instead of a pistol and books instead of silver for my reward.’ At the convent Ada learns of the Hole in the Wall Gang from the Mother Superior, deeming Ada as not fitting in among the nuns, and with some help finds her way to their holdout in the mysterious “territories.” Although she is not overly welcomed at the start, her background in medicine proves to be her ticket to being slowly accepted by Kid, the leader, and the rest of the gang. A genre-bending mix of dystopian and western, LGBTQ+, women’s rights and set in the days when “men were men, and women were women” all the while men beating their chests to declare their superiority, this gang managed to slowly pull me in and pull the wool over a few eyes, at the same time. The author brings this harsh and exacting landscape to life vividly, the ’small rise overlooking a wide salt flat where we sometimes spotted a badger or coyote, and once, a family of grouse, moving fussily with their heads held high like fancy, overdressed ladies’ and the wall, that will come to haunt her dreams, " of bright red rock many stories high, stretching from one edge of the valley to the other.’The wall that kept its own time, its own matins, lauds and vespers...with each quarter hour a new section of rock blazed flame red, and another plunged into ochre darkness. In the evening, the setting sun made the stone glow a living pink as through blood coursed through it, even as the warmth and light drained away from the valley floor.’ I rooted for Ada, a young woman with grit and determination that was reminiscent, for me, of True Grit’s young Mattie, and for the rest of their gang. Ada’s story is really their story as they have all been rejected by society. Unwanted, dismissed for being “other,” unnecessary. Those who don’t belong, those who live outside of society’s standards that only apply to, and benefit, a select few - these are still people who deserve to pursue happiness. Published: 05 Jan 2021 Many thanks for the ARC provided by Bloomsbury Publishing / Bloomsbury USA

  13. 5 out of 5

    Esil

    I was excited when I realized that the author of Outlawed also wrote The Life and Death of Sophie Stark, which I loved. Outlawed did not wow me in the same way. It felt uneven. It is set in the late 19th century in what seems to be the southwestern United States in a community where women are labelled as witches if they don’t have children. At 19, Ada is banished from her family and community because she still has not had a baby after a year of marriage. She finds her way to a group of other wom I was excited when I realized that the author of Outlawed also wrote The Life and Death of Sophie Stark, which I loved. Outlawed did not wow me in the same way. It felt uneven. It is set in the late 19th century in what seems to be the southwestern United States in a community where women are labelled as witches if they don’t have children. At 19, Ada is banished from her family and community because she still has not had a baby after a year of marriage. She finds her way to a group of other women who have been banished and live on the proceeds of crime. I liked the first third in which we see Ada with her family and the community that turns on her. But I found that the rest of the book tried to do too much. There was a lot of action and adventure. The story cycled — too quickly and superficially in my opinion — through a lot of issues — like racism, mental illness, homophobia, etc... And, other than Aida, we never really get to know the characters other than quite superficially. I read this as a buddy read with Angela and Diane. As always, it’s great to share the reading experience even if we don’t necessarily agree. Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for an opportunity to read an advance copy.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Brigitte Dale

    The concept of Outlawed is wonderfully creative—a reimagined American West in which women and gender-fluid outcasts band together as law-breaking cowboys. The execution, however, left something to be desired. Falling flat from its initial promise, the novel is predictable and slow. There are too many characters, such that none of them make a particularly strong impression, and even the protagonist, a midwife, is lackluster and bland. I really wanted to love this book—the LGBTQ themes, the dystop The concept of Outlawed is wonderfully creative—a reimagined American West in which women and gender-fluid outcasts band together as law-breaking cowboys. The execution, however, left something to be desired. Falling flat from its initial promise, the novel is predictable and slow. There are too many characters, such that none of them make a particularly strong impression, and even the protagonist, a midwife, is lackluster and bland. I really wanted to love this book—the LGBTQ themes, the dystopian society obsessed with childbirth, the way social anxieties created outcasts—but unfortunately, the story never really expanded beyond the original idea.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Steph

    outlawed is a fascinating alternate-history western adventure. it's set in the 1890s southwest, and our protagonist, ada, lives in a culture that worships baby jesus and prizes fertility, pregnancy, and childbearing above all else. i decided to read Upright Women Wanted and outlawed in quick succession, because i'm super interested in the possibility of alternative westerns as an emerging genre. these two books do have quite a bit in common, and they both star a naive young woman who joins a subv outlawed is a fascinating alternate-history western adventure. it's set in the 1890s southwest, and our protagonist, ada, lives in a culture that worships baby jesus and prizes fertility, pregnancy, and childbearing above all else. i decided to read Upright Women Wanted and outlawed in quick succession, because i'm super interested in the possibility of alternative westerns as an emerging genre. these two books do have quite a bit in common, and they both star a naive young woman who joins a subversive clan of gun-slinging women and nonbinary folks who have been "othered" by the outside world. i was pleased to find a rich, fleshed-out atmosphere in outlawed, which was sorely lacking from upright women wanted. the reader has time to get to know our uncertain young protagonist, to absorb the beautiful red-rock desert scenery, and to grasp the extremity of a culture that will imprison a woman for witchcraft just because she is unable to bear children. i felt wholly immersed in this world, and really enjoyed following ada's adventures as the story progressed. however, while upright women wanted is pulsing with sapphic energy, outlawed is much less gay than i expected!! a few members of the hole-in-the-wall gang are in sapphic relationships, which makes for some nice side representation. and because they are outlaws, members of the gang often dress and act as men when they go into town. but the most significant lgbt+ character here is the kid, the authoritative leader of the hole-in-the-wall gang. not only is the kid nonbinary (and black), but the kid doesn't use any pronouns. the kid is referred to only as the kid. (i thought this was super cool, because it makes the reader realize how little we actually need pronouns in our language!!) though the hole-in-the-wall gang only has five or six members when ada finds them, the kid has great ambitions for their group: "You see, when we found this land, I knew it was promised not just for us, but for the descendants of our minds and hearts, all those cast out of their homes and banished by their families, all those slandered and maligned, imprisoned and abused, for no crime but that God saw fit not to plant children in their wombs. I knew that we would build a nation of the dispossessed, where we would be not barren women, but kings." much love for those who dream of building a safe haven for those who need it most 🖤 the kid is badass and fascinating, but we don't get to know the kid very well. the reader only experiences this diverse group of people through ada's eyes. and unfortunately, this makes for an ignorant white-feministy sort of vibe. ada observes, but doesn't fully understand the racism experienced by POC in the group. and as the child of a midwife in this fertility-focused world, ada's belief in the gender-essentialist fallacy of woman = mother is never really challenged. so much missed opportunity!! i would have loved if north had taken all of this further, and tried to deconstruct some gender bullshit. and considering the fact that this is an alternate-history western, i would have much appreciated some more nuanced native american representation. there is one token indigenous side character, and again, it feels like a missed opportunity for some deeper exploration. (view spoiler)[something else i wish north had handled differently is the character of lark. i was really fascinated when we got his backstory: as a bi man, lark was castrated as punishment for his relationship with another man. there's just a touch of romance between lark and ada, and at first i was here for it. even though it's a m/f pairing, a sexual relationship between a "barren" woman and castrated man is extremely subversive in a culture that worships fertility!! but lark is tragically killed just as their love story is beginning. and sure, unexpected death is a risk you take when you're an outlaw. but i'm really uncomfy with his character being discarded like this, just when he's no longer "needed" by ada. (hide spoiler)] i think anna north had some amazing ideas here; but not all of them come to fruition, and some of the representation is sorely lacking. she could have done so much better with this book, with a bit more sensitivity and depth. but the scenery and atmosphere are rich and beautiful, and the old-west-style adventures are a lot of fun, so i do recommend outlawed to anyone who is interested in alternative westerns 🤠 just read it with a critical eye!!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Kelly (and the Book Boar)

    I was just bitching like two seconds ago in another review that blurbs comparing a book to others generally miss the mark, but True Grit meets The Crucible???? That’s actually pretty spot on. I also keep seeing this book referred to as “dystopian.” To all of you who used that phrase, allow me to quote my former beau Inigo Montoya and state . . . . The first effing line of the book (which was a good ‘un) is . . . In the year of our Lord 1894, I became an outlaw I guess if painted with a I was just bitching like two seconds ago in another review that blurbs comparing a book to others generally miss the mark, but True Grit meets The Crucible???? That’s actually pretty spot on. I also keep seeing this book referred to as “dystopian.” To all of you who used that phrase, allow me to quote my former beau Inigo Montoya and state . . . . The first effing line of the book (which was a good ‘un) is . . . In the year of our Lord 1894, I became an outlaw I guess if painted with a reeeeeaaaaaal broad brush you wouldn’t get thrown in the stocks for using that term (unless you’re a woman in this novel, then you definitely would get strung up for basically anything, you witchy bitches), but I would call this a “reimagining.” The time is real, the place was real, the outlaws were real, exiling/offing barren women as worthless was more than likely real, hell even some of the characters were real – there’s just been some creative license taken with regard to their individual backstories. This is the story of Ada, a midwife in training, who gets labeled a witch and sent to the nunnery for failing to produce offspring which her in-laws require in order for Ada to remain married to their son. Ever hopeful for more of a future, Ada ends up being shipped to the Hole in the Wall Gang and taken in by their leader, The Kid. It is there she meets a rabble-rousing band of misfits who have found solidarity and kinship after being ousted from their respective homes. Barren women, gender binary, homosexual, mentally ill – so many various personalities all accepting of one another and each other’s differences. Sounds like a utopia, huh? Well, unfortunately there’s also shoot-em-ups and lawmen who ain’t so keen on these outlaws stealing from folks, so there’s some action to be had as well. As far as creativity goes, I would easily give this all the stars. I really think I just don’t like Westerns all that much, so my entertainment level hovered at 3 Stars throughout. Per usual, I suck turtles . . . . A cowboy turtle this time!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Kyra Leseberg (Roots & Reads)

    In an alternate 1894, a flu outbreak has wiped out the majority of the U.S. population and leaves survivors praising baby Jesus who is certain to continue to spare them if they live righteously and procreate. Girls are raised to understand that their purpose is to marry and have as many children as possible. If for some reason a woman cannot get pregnant, she’s useless at best or a witch at worst. If she loses her pregnancy or has a baby with defects, it must certainly be the witchcraft of a bar In an alternate 1894, a flu outbreak has wiped out the majority of the U.S. population and leaves survivors praising baby Jesus who is certain to continue to spare them if they live righteously and procreate. Girls are raised to understand that their purpose is to marry and have as many children as possible. If for some reason a woman cannot get pregnant, she’s useless at best or a witch at worst. If she loses her pregnancy or has a baby with defects, it must certainly be the witchcraft of a barren woman at work. Seventeen-year-old Ada has worked her whole life with her mother, the midwife in the town of Fairfield. She’s now happily married and ready to perform her duty of having children but is frustrated as months pass and she doesn’t become pregnant. Ada understands the reasons behind many issues surrounding pregnancy and childbirth but the mystery surrounding the inability to carry a child isn’t one of them. Worried she’ll be kicked out by her husband and his family, she tries everything to become pregnant to no avail. A town won’t let a woman unable to have a child become a midwife and they will eventually begin to blame her for any complications a pregnant woman has. Her last hope is to leave Fairfield behind and live a quiet life in a convent. Or… she could join up with the Hole in the Wall Gang: a rag tag group of outcasts choosing to live life on their own terms and known to do some thieving along the way. Ada finds herself an outlaw in the gang led by the Kid, hatching a plan to make a future for them all …but may get them all killed in the process. Outlawed is an amazing speculative Western full of heart and feminism, tackling gender roles/identity, race, religion, and fertility in a fascinating way. I highly recommend it to readers who enjoy historical/speculative fiction and Westerns. Thanks to Bloomsbury and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC in exchange for my honest review. Outlawed is scheduled for release on January 5, 2021. For more reviews, visit www.rootsandreads.wordpress.com

  18. 5 out of 5

    Maxwell

    I feel like this book could’ve either been longer or the first in a series. I really did enjoy reading this; it was a fresh take on the western genre which I love. But it just didn’t feel like enough for me in the end. All the elements were there but they just didn’t add up to something that wowed me. I think if she had taken things a bit slower and given the characters more room to develop on the page, I would’ve been happier with the ending. It’s a pretty fast paced plot and sometimes chapters I feel like this book could’ve either been longer or the first in a series. I really did enjoy reading this; it was a fresh take on the western genre which I love. But it just didn’t feel like enough for me in the end. All the elements were there but they just didn’t add up to something that wowed me. I think if she had taken things a bit slower and given the characters more room to develop on the page, I would’ve been happier with the ending. It’s a pretty fast paced plot and sometimes chapters end in a way that action takes place off the page, so when you start the next chapter the characters have moved on and all experienced something we only get to hear about and not witness. I’d have rather had her actually show us that instead of retelling it later to make this feel more substantial. Not a bad book by any means but nothing super mind-blowing either. It was a fun, quick read.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Nerdette Podcast

    HELLO THIS BOOK IS VERY VERY GOOD

  20. 4 out of 5

    Celeste

    Outlawed is an alternate history in which a Great Flu wiped out 9/10ths of the U.S. population, the country fell apart, and now a woman who can’t pop out babies to rebuild that population is branded a witch and hanged. As a barren woman myself, this premise hit incredibly close to home for me. I loved seeing how all of these women dealt with such superstition and blatant inequality. “People cry witchcraft whenever they don’t understand something.” I’ve seen reviews calling this book a mix of The Outlawed is an alternate history in which a Great Flu wiped out 9/10ths of the U.S. population, the country fell apart, and now a woman who can’t pop out babies to rebuild that population is branded a witch and hanged. As a barren woman myself, this premise hit incredibly close to home for me. I loved seeing how all of these women dealt with such superstition and blatant inequality. “People cry witchcraft whenever they don’t understand something.” I’ve seen reviews calling this book a mix of The Crucible and True Grit, or The Handmaid’s Tale and the Netflix show Godless. Both are incredibly apt, and I felt all four of those inspirations in this story. But what I ended up being reminded of the most was the movie Young Guns. Likely this was largely a mix of nostalgia, having adored that movie in my childhood, and the fact that one of the most important characters in this book was known solely by the moniker “The Kid.” Whatever the case may be, that similarity imparted a fun walk down memory lane for me, which did nothing but increase my enjoyment while reading. “Knowledge can be very valuable... but only if people want it. If they don't, it can be worse than useless.” Our main character, Ada, was interesting. She’s incredibly book-smart, and has a lot of practical medical knowledge, but she’s not exactly gifted in the common sense department. She makes plenty of mistakes, but overall I found her an easy protagonist to root for. The rest of the characters surrounding her were fun and multifaceted, and I very much enjoyed getting their backstories. “When someone believes in something... you can't just take it away. You have to give them something to replace it.” I think my main complaint about Outlawed is that it’s one of those rare novels that feels too short. I feel like another fifty to hundred pages could have bumped this up from four stars to five in my book. But regardless, this is an incredibly fun story with plenty of depth and drama. There’s a ton of commentary and questions regarding identity and sexuality that I found to be great food for thought. Overall, I highly recommend this book for those looking for girl power in an unusual setting. You can find this review and more at Novel Notions.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Jayyn

    🤠🤠🤠🤠 (Four stars as rated in emojis wearing cowboy hats) I was given an Advanced Reader Copy of this book through NetGalley via the publisher in exchange for an honest review Holy smokes. I feel both satisfied and completely heartbroken by this book. What an emotionally turbulent journey I just went on! For this book, we venture into the alternate timeline of the North American West, in which women are accused of witchcraft for being barren and, sometimes even for the barrenness of others. When 🤠🤠🤠🤠 (Four stars as rated in emojis wearing cowboy hats) I was given an Advanced Reader Copy of this book through NetGalley via the publisher in exchange for an honest review Holy smokes. I feel both satisfied and completely heartbroken by this book. What an emotionally turbulent journey I just went on! For this book, we venture into the alternate timeline of the North American West, in which women are accused of witchcraft for being barren and, sometimes even for the barrenness of others. When Ada Magnussen is accused of such by her meddling in-laws and spineless neighbors after her own failure to conceive, she flees for fear of her life, ultimately joining up with a band of similar outcasts, led by an infamous, beguiling and gender neutral outlaw known merely as The Kid. This book has so much of what I’m looking for in a story, adventure or otherwise; The plot is engaging, the characters are well rounded and, what’s that? Did you say realistic representation of marginalized communities!?!?! And served on a bed of prose that is just beyond devour-able. Be still my beating heart. I am genuinely enamored with how much was pulled off (and pulled off well, no less) within this singular volume. That being said, my one complaint for the story is that the relative absence of Native Americans (save for one brief and otherwise forgettable encounter with an Indigenous trader) is a glaring and unfortunate oversight. Especially since veins of the plot are flagrant perpetuations of Manifest Destiny and of the idea that North America was virgin before colonization. Oof. I didn’t care for that. At all. Especially since the story is otherwise so genuinely inclusive without ever feeling tokenizing or compromised by the need to appeal to less “progressive” audiences. I would still give the thing a wholehearted four stars, though. And I will probably be replaying this book on a loop in my brain for the next six months. Yee-haw!! Content warnings for this book: homophobia, racism, genital mutilation, death of a child, death of a friend, death of a partner, death of a spouse, general violence, starvation, mental illness, bombings, time in prison, wrongful accusations, disowning, drug use, eugenics, hate crimes, delusions, trauma, gun violence

  22. 5 out of 5

    Carol

    How does a young, contented bride, one with a penchant for midwifery, end up an outlaw? Thanks to the generosity of Bloomsbury Publishing, Author Anna North and Edelweiss, I was able to find the answer. Due to be published January 5, 2021, get yourself on the list. If the cover doesn't grab your attention just read the first few pages. Westerns featuring female protagonists are generally my cup of tea. Outlawed one was one heck of a good steep brewing to a satisfying end. How does a young, contented bride, one with a penchant for midwifery, end up an outlaw? Thanks to the generosity of Bloomsbury Publishing, Author Anna North and Edelweiss, I was able to find the answer. Due to be published January 5, 2021, get yourself on the list. If the cover doesn't grab your attention just read the first few pages. Westerns featuring female protagonists are generally my cup of tea. Outlawed one was one heck of a good steep brewing to a satisfying end.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Meagan (Meagansbookclub)

    I’m still debating on 3 or 3.5 ⭐️ because I read it cover to cover in 24hrs, so I do think there is something to be said that I couldn’t put it down. I think this book tried to do too much? I’m not really even sure what my thought process is right now. The writing and story development was definitely stronger at the beginning to just over the halfway point, but the ending felt rushed and fell flat. The story of Ada was captivating. I enjoyed the reminder of how brutal this time period was for wom I’m still debating on 3 or 3.5 ⭐️ because I read it cover to cover in 24hrs, so I do think there is something to be said that I couldn’t put it down. I think this book tried to do too much? I’m not really even sure what my thought process is right now. The writing and story development was definitely stronger at the beginning to just over the halfway point, but the ending felt rushed and fell flat. The story of Ada was captivating. I enjoyed the reminder of how brutal this time period was for women. Thank goodness this is not our reality! But Outlawed really did a good job outlining all the discrepancies women had to deal with during this time period. They were only good if they could reproduce, otherwise they were cast out. Most of the stories were really heartbreaking and difficult to imagine. Could possibly be triggering for some readers, so be careful if you have any history of child loss. I think my biggest struggle and why it can’t go over 3.5 ⭐️ is because I did not like the way the characters developed. The story didn’t bother me, but by the end, I didn’t feel attached to any of the characters (except Lark!). The names were hard to keep track and the descriptions and insights into each of the characters were so vague and limiting that you couldn’t tell anyone apart besides the main people. Plus—that last chapter was a huge disappointment.

  24. 4 out of 5

    R

    This story was definitely not what I was expecting. But the unexpectedness was refreshingly good and very interesting. The story took place in 1894. This was a time when superstitions were held as truth and innocent lives were taken because of it.This was also a time when young girls who reached a certain age were expected to marry and quickly have babies. Any females that couldn’t get pregnant were looked at with suspicion and scrutinized. Any deviation that occurred during this time such as st This story was definitely not what I was expecting. But the unexpectedness was refreshingly good and very interesting. The story took place in 1894. This was a time when superstitions were held as truth and innocent lives were taken because of it.This was also a time when young girls who reached a certain age were expected to marry and quickly have babies. Any females that couldn’t get pregnant were looked at with suspicion and scrutinized. Any deviation that occurred during this time such as stillbirths or the German measles were thought to be the work of those barren females and held them accountable. Some were lucky to escape, others were put to death. After being married for a year, Ada didn’t get pregnant. Her husband’s family threw her out and rumors of witchcraft quickly circulated. With her mother’s help, Ada was one of the lucky ones to escape, but she still had the sheriff searching for her. She, like others who were also barren, took refuge in a convent. Since Ada was taught midwifery by her mother, she was eager to educate herself about the causes of barrenness and dispel any of its relationship to witchcraft or other superstitious beliefs. In order to do that, and with the help of the Mother Superior, Ada left the safety of the convent. She took refuge with the Kid and the Hole in the Wall Gang. They did was they had to do in order to survive.This was where the story’s twist became apparent and a strong feminist presence took over. I liked that the characters were very diverse including several LGBT. They each had a different and interesting reason for taking refuge with the Kid who gave them a purpose to live. It was a fast paced story and at times intense as the women tried to escape the sheriff whose sole interest was to capture and hang them. This was a well written captivating story that dealt with a variety of topics including a misogynistic society, LGBT hatred, religious beliefs, racism, incest, women’s rights including abortion, and superstitions. If you are looking for a different type of Wild West adventure, this is the book to read. An ARC was given for an honest review.

  25. 5 out of 5

    BookNightOwl

    I want thank Netgalley and Bloomsbury for providing a copy of Outlawed by Anna North in exchange for an honest review. As 17 year old Ada gets married she becomes extremely happy to part of this group. But as her marriage goes further and further into the months she realizes she isn't getting pregnant. Which Barren women are usually at fault. They are accused of witchcraft and usually imprisoned or hung. Adas husbands family finally kicks her out and she runs away with the Kid and the Hole in the I want thank Netgalley and Bloomsbury for providing a copy of Outlawed by Anna North in exchange for an honest review. As 17 year old Ada gets married she becomes extremely happy to part of this group. But as her marriage goes further and further into the months she realizes she isn't getting pregnant. Which Barren women are usually at fault. They are accused of witchcraft and usually imprisoned or hung. Adas husbands family finally kicks her out and she runs away with the Kid and the Hole in the Wall Gang when she is accused of witchcraft. I liked the beginning but towards the middle and the end was a little hard to hold my focus. Liked the idea of the story but wanted more action.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Laura • lauralovestoread

    3.5 stars! It definitely took me a few days to process this one, and overall I really enjoyed it. For starters it took me out of my comfort zone with being a “western dystopian” which is a genre that I’ve never read before. I loved that it was a twist on traditional ideals of the “Wild West” and instead brought a band of women outcasts meets The Handmaids Tale that takes place after the big Flu epidemic of the 1800s. I’m a sucker for any story involving female friendships and strong women, but desp 3.5 stars! It definitely took me a few days to process this one, and overall I really enjoyed it. For starters it took me out of my comfort zone with being a “western dystopian” which is a genre that I’ve never read before. I loved that it was a twist on traditional ideals of the “Wild West” and instead brought a band of women outcasts meets The Handmaids Tale that takes place after the big Flu epidemic of the 1800s. I’m a sucker for any story involving female friendships and strong women, but despite it being a shorter read, it felt way too lengthy in some sections for me. I wanted more excitement and action and where I envisioned this story to take me I guess.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Wolf

    3.5 stars. In Outlawed, we meet 17-year-old Ada at what should be the start of a happy future. Newly married, she loves her husband and is enjoying a robust married life with him. Except she’s not getting pregnant. As the months go by, the pressure mounts, until finally, after a year of marriage, she’s kicked out by her in-laws. Being barren is considered the utmost failure for a woman, and failing to conceive is always considered the woman’s fault. Maybe it’s her family background? Maybe it’s pun 3.5 stars. In Outlawed, we meet 17-year-old Ada at what should be the start of a happy future. Newly married, she loves her husband and is enjoying a robust married life with him. Except she’s not getting pregnant. As the months go by, the pressure mounts, until finally, after a year of marriage, she’s kicked out by her in-laws. Being barren is considered the utmost failure for a woman, and failing to conceive is always considered the woman’s fault. Maybe it’s her family background? Maybe it’s punishment for sin? Or worst of all, she could be a witch, and most likely to blame for all the miscarriages and other tragedies in her town. In the world of Outlawed, a terrible Flu years back wiped out 90% of the world’s population. In the pandemic’s aftermath, a new religion has blossomed, teaching the gospel of the Baby Jesus, who promises healthy futures to people — so long as they go forth and be fruitful, to repopulate the Earth. Barrenness, therefore, is not just a personal misfortune, but a sin against Baby Jesus. Barren women are outcasts, and once facing accusations of wrong-doing, are more likely than not to be hanged or imprisoned. Ada, the daughter of the town’s only midwife, has been trained all her life by her mother to follow in her footsteps, and she understands that there must be scientific reasons for why some women get pregnant and some don’t. This conviction doesn’t save her when she’s accused of witchcraft, and she’s forced to flee for her life, eventually ending up with the Kid and the Hole in the Wall Gang, a group of outcast women who band together for survival. As Ada is given a place with the gang, she begins her days as an outlaw. From this point, we follow Ada and the gang as they plot a daring heist that should enable them to provide a haven for other outcast women, but their plans are risky, the group faces divisions about their mission, and the Kid, their leader, suffers through bouts of depression that leave them unable to lead at a critical moment. I mostly enjoyed Outlawed, but a few elements hold me back from giving this book a rave review. The pacing sags in the middle, once Ada arrives at the Hole in the Wall’s hideout, as she struggles for acceptance and to learn their ways. At this point, the plot slows down and becomes mainly focused on arguments and resentments within the group. Also, Ada’s transformation into a western outlaw seems a little too abrupt, and given her vocation as a healer, she appears to accept the more violent aspects of their lives without too many qualms. My other complaint, which may just be a “me” thing rather than an issue with the book, is that the gang’s members are introduced all at once. We see them all as Ada first approaches, with physical descriptions of the people she sees around a campfire. Later, we learn their names as Ada does too. And for the life of me, I could not match the names and the people — while a few were distinct, for the most part, I could not really distinguish the characters as individuals or figure out who was who. It was annoying, and I gave up trying after a while. Still, there’s a lot to love about Outlawed. The Western setting is familiar, but it’s turned upside down in this new version of the Old West, with fertility being the highest measure of a woman’s worth and a belief in witchcraft that seems like it should already be a thing of the distant past. I liked the sense of inclusion among the outcasts — any woman in trouble is welcome, and as we see later, there are plenty of reasons for people to end up ostracized, cast away, and forced to seek sanctuary among the outlaws. I also loved Ada’s devotion to healing and to learning. The desire to learn what causes barrenness is what drives her, not only for her own sake but for the purpose of helping other women who suffer. Once I’d picked up Outlawed and read the author bio, I realized that I have an earlier book by this author (America Pacifica) on my shelves. While I wouldn’t say that Outlawed was a complete hit for me, it intrigued me enough that I’ll definitely want to read more by this author. Review copy courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley. Full review at Bookshelf Fantasies.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Lisa-Books Smiles

    DNF at 50% - I just could not force myself to continue reading.

  29. 5 out of 5

    ♥ Sandi ❣

    3.5 stars Thanks to NetGalley and Bloomsburg Publishing for allowing me to read and review this book. Publishes January 5, 2021 A twist on the Hole-in-the-Wall gang. This one is all women outlaws. Some undercover disguised as men, while some, dressed roughly, maintain a female composure. Most have found this calling due to being unable to bare a child. Some are forced to this situation, since barren women are considered witches and are hung, others went looking for a place to feel wanted. In a di 3.5 stars Thanks to NetGalley and Bloomsburg Publishing for allowing me to read and review this book. Publishes January 5, 2021 A twist on the Hole-in-the-Wall gang. This one is all women outlaws. Some undercover disguised as men, while some, dressed roughly, maintain a female composure. Most have found this calling due to being unable to bare a child. Some are forced to this situation, since barren women are considered witches and are hung, others went looking for a place to feel wanted. In a different Wild West, circa 1890, these women robbed and stole to maintain their lifestyle, with the dream of one day taking over a town where other misfits would always be welcome.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Erin Cataldi

    The opening line, "In the year of our Lord 1894, I became an outlaw," sets the tone for this unique and adventurous western novel. At 17, Ada marries her sweetheart and all is well in the world until she fails to conceive a child within a year. Forced to flee her village due to rumors and accusations of witchcraft; she hides in a convent passing the time transcribing medical books. Unable to keep still, she runs away to find the Hole in the Wall Gang where she joins The Kid and her merry band of The opening line, "In the year of our Lord 1894, I became an outlaw," sets the tone for this unique and adventurous western novel. At 17, Ada marries her sweetheart and all is well in the world until she fails to conceive a child within a year. Forced to flee her village due to rumors and accusations of witchcraft; she hides in a convent passing the time transcribing medical books. Unable to keep still, she runs away to find the Hole in the Wall Gang where she joins The Kid and her merry band of troublemakers. Their thieving, cowboy ways help fund a life of safety for female outcasts, many who were also barren like Ada. Together they decide to make their own future free from men and their simple minded ideas about femininity and motherhood. Bank robbing, cattle hustling, and deception are just some of their many ploys. Action packed and full of adventure this unique western with unforgettable characters will appeal to fans of True Grit and feminist and LGBTQ literature. A must read.

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