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Review: Upright Women Wanted by Sarah Gailey

Hey all, Dani here.

Today was not a good day at work, and it’s because of this whole COVID-19 thing. Things only seem to be getting worse, and so many in the US are clamoring for everything to be opened up again. It is anxiety-inducing, especially worse when you are considered an essential employee and you can’t afford to take the voluntary unpaid leave. I’m just feeling a bit more worried now than I’ve felt the past couple months.

So I’m definitely going to dive deeper into books for the weekend. Right now I’m continuing my celebration of books about books, libraries, librarians, and bookstores as part of my National Library Week series of posts. Let’s go ahead and jump into the review.


Book Details

Format: Hardcover

Pages: 176


Publication Date: February 4, 2020

ISBN: 1250213584 (ISBN13: 9781250213587)


In Upright Women Wanted, award-winning author Sarah Gailey reinvents the pulp Western with an explicitly antifascist, near-future story of queer identity.

“That girl’s got more wrong notions than a barn owl’s got mean looks.”

Esther is a stowaway. She’s hidden herself away in the Librarian’s book wagon in an attempt to escape the marriage her father has arranged for her–a marriage to the man who was previously engaged to her best friend. Her best friend who she was in love with. Her best friend who was just executed for possession of resistance propaganda.

The future American Southwest is full of bandits, fascists, and queer librarian spies on horseback trying to do the right thing.

My Thoughts

Rating: 5 stars

I wanted this book to be twice as long. It was such an interesting novella. I bought the novel Magic for Liars by Sarah Gailey but haven’t read it yet, so this was my first encounter with her writing…and wow, I am a fan.

Queer Librarian Spies on Horseback was a concept that I didn’t know I needed in my life, and now that I’ve read this story I’ll never be the same.

Wow, that sounds intense and dramatic. Sorry, I just don’t really know how to formulate my thoughts when it comes to this story.

The narrative voice of this story was wonderful. It felt like old-timey Western type of tale, but based on context clues and such, it actually felt like a dystopian future instead.

But there were the librarians on horseback trying to do what was right, even if it technically went against the rules.

Esther was an interesting character, and I loved watching her process her thoughts and feelings as she stowed away with the Librarians, and then met Cye (who identifies as they/them when out in the wild, but out of necessity as she/her whenever in a settlement). There were so many dynamic and also somewhat cute relationships in this story.

Seriously, why was this only 176 pages long? It was great, and it had a complete story, and I enjoyed it as is…but I also would have been totally okay with the setting and events and story being fleshed out a bit more. Or hey, if Sarah Gailey wants to write more novellas set in this world, then that would be perfectly fine too.

This tale had adventure and action and romance and librarians fighting against censorship and oppression. I am so very glad that I picked this book up. It was sincerely fantastic.

Where to Get a Copy

You can grab your own copy of this book from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-million, Book Depository, or your local independent bookstore through IndieBound.

You can also check with your local library.

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