‘Pretty Deadly: Volume One’ by Kelly Sue Deconnick
I recently spent a wintry evening reading Pretty Deadly: Volume One by Kelly Sue Deconnick. Narrated by a rabbit skeleton (less gross than you’d think) telling a tale to his friend, a butterfly, Pretty Deadly is a mythological genre-mash set in the Old West. I’m not even sure how to describe the plot in broad strokes, but suffice it to say Pretty Deadly covers almost every base in myth: Death appears as a major character; love is gained, lost, and squandered; redemption is sought; a young girl discovers her deeper purpose. (And more!)
The fact that I don’t have much to say about it is probably a sign that I didn’t love it. I liked it well enough, but it isn’t a new favorite. I found the art a bit too stylized to the point where I couldn’t always follow what was happening, although the use of color was stunning.
Similarly, the fast introduction of characters and the convoluted back story of each made it a bit difficult to tell everyone apart, particularly the multiple kick-butt women in swirling black cloaks running around fighting each other. They had different hair colors, but since that fact was often hidden in the black cloaks, please excuse my confusion.
That said, it is an incredibly creative book. It’s an entirely new mythology that would somehow still fit in, tonally and thematically, with Arthurian legend, Celtic myths, and ancient Greece all at once. And for a story set in an unnamed Wild West location, that’s no mean feat!
In the end, however, I wanted to love this a lot more than I actually did. It probably didn’t help matters that I was not at my peak mental facilities when I read it one night long after I should have gone to bed. But even just thinking about it evokes an feeling of vague disgruntlement and exhaustion. This could be some kind of timestamp memory of how I felt even before I read it, but this book also did nothing to alleviate these feelings.