In this disquieting story, a woman fleeing past sins attempts to forge a new life homesteading Montana’s harsh plains.
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Author, The Hacienda
When we first meet Adelaide Henry, she’s setting fire to the California farmhouse she grew up in and making tracks for Montana with a strangely heavy steamer trunk in tow. There, she plans to lay claim to land and start afresh, unfettered by her family and her past.
I was utterly hooked from the opening pages of Lone Women, which breathes fresh air into a time period and setting that has long been painted with a monochromatic brush. Adelaide is unlike any historical fiction heroine I have ever encountered—flinty, canny, and honest—and on her journey she makes alliances with Black, Chinese-American, Métis, Mexican, and queer characters, highlighting the diversity of the frontier. But as the mysteries of Victor LaValle’s masterfully spun tale unfolded, I was pinioned to the spot by writing that was at once crisply lyrical and so chilling it had me gasping aloud.
For me, the best horror reads are those that do more than creep you out. They also strike an immensely satisfying note that—while not strictly a happily ever after—leave your heart aching in the best way. Lone Women is such a book. It is a horror story, yes, but also a story about survival, about how we navigate the difficult waters of family history and self-reinvention. The bite of Montana’s freezing winds will stay with you long after you close the pages of Lone Women, but so too will Adelaide, her resilience, and her heart.
Adelaide Henry carries an enormous steamer trunk with her wherever she goes. It’s locked at all times. Because when the trunk is opened, people around her start to disappear . . .
The year is 1914, and Adelaide is in trouble. Her secret sin killed her parents, and forced her to flee her hometown of Redondo, California, in a hellfire rush, ready to make her way to Montana as a homesteader. Dragging the trunk with her at every stop, she will be one of the “lone women” taking advantage of the government’s offer of free land for those who can cultivate it—except that Adelaide isn’t alone. And the secret she’s tried so desperately to lock away might be the only thing keeping her alive.