Hello again, long time no post! I’m getting back into action and taking a step into the paranormal with this 2017 novella from new to me author Margaret Killjoy. Since the author’s bio inspired me to read a bit more about them, I found that they are, among other things, a proud trans woman, anarchist, prepper, and electronic/death metal musician who maintains a Twitter feed worth reading. But these are all topics for another day. Let’s end my review drought and bring on the book!
So yeah, welcome to Freedom, Iowa. For the past year, we’ve had this benevolent, murderous spirit watching over us. Which is weird, but it’s gone fine.
The story is set in the near future in a quasi-distopian United States and opens with our protagonist, a nomadic young woman named Danielle Cain, pulling a knife on an overly friendly man she hitched a ride with on her way to an anarchist commune in Freedom, Iowa. In going there she hopes to find answers surrounding the final days of her friend Clay, who had finally settled down there only to eventually wander off and kill himself. The town, however, may hold more mysteries than answers for upon her approach to it Danielle encounters a number of horrifically mutated animals, most notably a strange deer feeding upon the carcass of a small animal. Upon meeting the locals, she learns that the deer creature is the spirit Uliksi, a demon they summoned to prey upon those people who would seek authority over another. Suddenly her grim quest for answers gets a whole lot more complicated.
I enjoyed this for what it was: good, easy reading fun. While I can’t say it was particularly deep, the book’s commentary on the allure of power felt a bit cliche, it did have a certain charm that really drew me in. The main characters were an immensely likable (if somewhat one dimensional) group of punks and anarchists and the potentially rogue Uliksi provided an intriguing dilemma. I also enjoyed that the book had a very familiar-to-me feeling sense of humor mixed with just enough action to help me make short work of its 84 pages. Upon learning more about the author, I could see how their own experiences shaped this story and I absolutely enjoy supporting these types of characters and political ideals. As such, I am on board for reading the sequel and curious to see where the series goes from here.