Review – Lone Women, by Victor Lavelle

LONE WOMEN by Victor Lavalle, is an incisive examination of family, the boundaries of self-reliance, the American frontier ethos, justice, and guilt. It’s inescapably dark, with elusive elements of horror that run the gamut from ghosts and hauntings to cryptids and demons made flesh, and yet, as is always the case, perhaps it is the people who are the most terrifying all along.

Adelaide Henry flees her home in California for the homesteading wilds of Montana, lugging a steamer trunk along on the journey. In Montana, she finds the desolation and isolation of the American frontier in the early 20th century, navigates being black in a landscape that is mostly not, and being a single (lone) woman, as well. Along the way, Adelaide discovers it’s impossible to outrun your past, and indeed the shame and sins you bury will ultimately demand a reckoning, and meets many and more people who learn that lesson as well.

The experience, especially at the beginning of the book, is relentlessly tense. Lavalle grips you by the throat just tight enough to be uncomfortable, and doesn’t let go until the Adelaide starts to feel at ease, when he allows the tension to wane just long enough for things to start going wrong again and the grip to tighten once more. The book is tagged by the publisher as “gothic horror,” and that description is apt for the slow and foreboding tone that is set on the first page.

I received a copy from the publisher, unsolicited, “given [my] appreciation of Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s MEXICAN GOTHIC.” I’m quite honestly not sure how or why that popped into my inbox the other day, but it was a welcome way to spend my weekend. LONE WOMEN is set to release on March 21, 2023, so there’s plenty of time for you to line up your preorders.

Seattle Colossus Link link

P.S. As of the time of this writing, the price is lower.

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