Updated: Aug 22, 2021
My Calamity Jane (The Lady Janies #3) by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton and Jodi Meadows
Publication Date: June 2nd, 2020
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal
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.
I read My Plain Jane when it came out and was entertained so when I saw that this trio were creating a story surrounding Calamity Jane, I definitely wanted to pick it up. I’ve been meaning to delve into the world of Westerns and the idea of doing so with an easy to read comedic take on the genre seemed a great entry point. In truth, I don’t think I would recommend anyone read it on that basis.
Throughout the last couple of years, I have really been finding Young Adult reads to no longer be an age group I totally enjoy. There are some that are amazing but, for the most part, my reading tastes have changed a bit so please keep that in mind when it comes to my thoughts here.
My Calamity Jane is a very surface-level story that really centers around Annie Oakley. I’m not sure why it is marketed as having Jane as the main character (I guess the obvious answer is that her name is Jane and it fits with the series) but she really does not get much time in the story. The majority of her journey is overlooked and her major character moments are very much lack-luster. I liked the idea of following Jane, Annie and Frank but the book was very Frank/Annie focused - which is fine but not really a ‘Jane’ story.
Of all of the characters, I would have to say that Frank was my favourite. Heck, maybe even his dog haha. Frank is easily the most mature of the bunch but, because of that, he does not have much of an arc. He is fairly stagnant and reliable. Annie was spunky to the point of almost being annoying but I did like her conflict even if we don’t get to see her development as much of it happens during a travel time-jump and a very randomly convenient plot moment involving a bear. Jane herself has a good enough back story to help force her ‘revelation’ near the climax of the book but she really just sits around drinking a lot and being confused about her crush.
The Lady Janies as a writing trio seemed more of a collective in My Plain Jane but in this iteration, I could really tell that it was written by 3 different authors. The story did not have a good flow and the ideas that they went with were a bit all over the place. They desperately try to make a social commentary on many different aspects of the time period to the readers of modern day but it felt extremely forced with all of their ‘narrator asides’. I also know that they try to add humour with their commentary but I mainly found these moments boring if not a bit cringey.
In terms of the paranormal twists that get added to each book in this series, I wasn’t overly on board with the idea of them being werewolf hunters. The lore never added up for me from how they started to how to ‘cure’ it to the society that surrounds them… it was all very under-developed. Almost as though there was just a few points that they wanted to cover regardless of how they fit together. Further twists in the story were also fairly obvious. Nothing was really surprising aside from how they brought up these revelations. The set up for one particularly ‘big’ twist wasn’t even really done, there was just a line that essentially said ‘by the way, this is a thing’.
This just wasn’t a fun ride in general for me. I wasn’t invested in the characters, there was too much and yet not enough going on and a lot of the story seemed forced. I do plan on picking up My Lady Jane however because I do want to give this series another try but if book 1 doesn’t hook me, I likely won’t continue on to read their next trilogy (which I believe is based around Mary’s of history).