Book Review: “The Cold Eye” by Laura Anne Gilman

The Cold Eye by Laura Anne Gilman

In the second book of “The Devil’s West” stories, young Izobel, Left Hand of the Devil, is drawn to yet more dangerous and bad magic.

After her first success on the road (Silver on the Road ) she is given no rest, but must deal with even bigger troubles. It’s not clear who is calling, nor what she can or should do about the horrors she encounters.

With a confusing array of natural and supernatural forces at work, it is awfully difficult to follow what is going on here. If Izobel and Gabriel are confused, I was even more at sea. Maybe all will become clearer in the next book, but I have to doubt it.

Mystery upon mystery. What is President Jefferson up to, and does it really represent a threat (and if so, to whom)?. What happened in the valley? Who are all the spirit animals, and what do they want? What should Izobel do? What can Izobel do?

I have to say that I didn’t like this as well as the first book in the series. I missed the detailed landscapes in the first story, and the characters they meet are rather shallow and uninteresting—and we only get a few pages of any but the main protagonists.

The story itself unfolds quickly, with magic battle after inscrutable magic battle. Yet somehow the pace of the story seemed slow, and the talk was endless. So much chatter, so little information. For most of the story, I didn’t understand what the battle was about, nor what was happening.

After all the trouble, terror, and violence in this story, it’s far from clear whether the situation is resolved, and if so, how. We do know that there is a lot more trouble coming, so there will certainly be a third book.

We all hope for the best for Izobel and Gabriel. For that matter, we are rooting for the Devil himself. Fingers crossed that the future holds more than incomprehensible spirit battles and disappointing dialog.

  1. Laura Anne Gilman, The Cold Eye, New York, Saga Press, 2017.


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