Good morning and Happy Halloween! It’s time again for my annual double feature pairing a spooky story with a Halloween-themed beverage. Tradition has the book going first and I see no reason to change that now. Getting the honors this year is Margaret Killjoy’s The Barrow Will Send What it May, the second novella following the adventures of a young woman named Danielle Cain and a group of anarchist drifters turned demon hunters.
We talked about friends in common who weren’t dead or missing. The state of the anarchist movement and its role in fighting the rise of fascism and nationalism globally. Then, more interesting to me, the state of magic.
The story picks up almost immediately after the end of book one, with our heroes on the road and looking to quickly put some distance between themselves and the multitude of dead law enforcement officers left behind by their encounter with the demon Uliksi back in Freedom, Iowa. They are headed west and debating whether it’s best to lay low or look for ways to further their understanding of magic and the occult. That decision, however, soon gets made for them when they hitch a ride with a woman who claims to have been returned from the dead. She drops them off in the town of Pendleton, Montana where they learn a bit more of her story from some like-minded folks squatting in/running the town library. From that point on, it’s only a matter of time until they cross paths with the local necromancer and find themselves once again involved with some very powerful magic.
Coming in at a crisp 104 pages, I flew through this story completely entertained throughout. It had a lot of great energy, mixing in elements of mystery, suspense, humor, and politics (in particular examinations of power and gender) into a bundle of eerie fun. While the story was perhaps a bit episodic, it successfully provided some much anticipated character development and world expansion. While in retrospect the supernatural elements were a bit cliche this time around, I didn’t so much mind as the strength of these stories so far is really in the characters. The cast is quite diverse, with a variety of races and orientations well represented and welcomed throughout the story. My favorite characters at this point are probably the white female lead Danielle, for her witty and honest internal monologues and Vulture, a black trans man with a slight obsession with Instagram an anarchist exploits. Overall, though, I enjoyed them all individually and collectively and liked seeing how the various companions, friends, lovers, and those somewhere in between get along with each other and react to the unusual direction their lives have gone. They just seem like good people and are now officially in the running as one of my top literary crews.
My only regret about this story is that the series hasn’t continued on yet. Given some of the possibilities left open by certain developments there needs to be at least another novella of two! I absolutely love my time with these characters and am eagerly awaiting another chance to go on an adventure with them.