Desert Creatures

Erewhon. Nov. 2022. 352p. ISBN 9781645660521. $26.95. HORROR
DEBUT Chronister’s debut novel is a dark fantasy story about the Wild West reborn after a cataclysm. In the near future, the American Southwest has become a desiccated wasteland filled with dangers both human and inhuman. This is the world in which nine-year-old Magdala finds herself: first as a daughter who needs her father’s protection, then as one of many pilgrims searching for salvation near the holy city of Las Vegas, and finally as a woman who is tempered by the harsh light of the desert sun into a survivor. This genre-bending story evokes Cormac McCarthy’s brutal depictions of the American West and life after the end of everything, and there are mutated horrors wandering the desert that could have been conceived in Jeff VanderMeer’s fever dreams. The book, however, culminates in a new and original species of post-apocalyptic fiction where attempts at recreating civilization are anything but civilized.
VERDICT Ultimately, this is a harrowing coming-of-age tale of a girl growing up in a world where not many things are allowed to grow tall and strong.
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