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Lone Women by Victor LaValle

Lone Women

by Victor LaValle

Quick take

In this disquieting story, a woman fleeing past sins attempts to forge a new life homesteading Montana’s harsh plains.

Good to know

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_SocialIssues

    Social issues

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_LGBTQ

    LGBTQ+ themes

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_GraphicViolence

    Graphic violence

  • Illustrated icon, Western_icon



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.

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Free sample

Get an early look from the first pages of Lone Women.

Why I love it

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.

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Member ratings (8,017)

  • Alexis A.

    Birmingham, AL

    This is my kind of horror! This was wonderfully written & eerily unsettling. I loved Adelaide & the idea that family secrets & the familial curses we carry can truly be our biggest horror. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

  • Ashley G.

    Cando, ND

    Wow for being a horror, this had some heavy lessons. All of the women faced a lot of horrors of being women on their own. Beautifully written and truly spooky. This was a fantastic piece of work! ❤️❤️

  • Isaac W.

    West Hollywood, CA

    I loved every page of this book! A monster story that embraces & defies the genre of horror! The characters & landscapes are so rich. Literary & poetic & a page of history that doesn’t get taught! ❤️

  • Kayla W.

    Lithia Springs, GA

    I loved the strong female characters, the commentary on race, gender, class. The book was appropriately horrifying, graphic, and immersive. I do wish there would’ve been more POVs from all the women.

  • Michelle C.

    New York, NY

    I almost skipped this month - so glad I went with this book. Because the characters are so complex and strong, it wld have been great even w/o the fantasy element I’d love to know these Lone Women.