"Lone Women" Book Review

Written by Zach Rosenberg

Published by One World

lone women victor lavalle poster large

Written by Victor LaValle
2023, 304 pages, Fiction
Released on March 28, 2023

Review:

Victor LaValle knows history. Author of a number of sterling titles, including the Lovecraftian deconstruction The Ballad of Black Tom, LaValle tackles the ugly legacy of America, refusing to shirk from the depictions of racism and sexism that continue to affect the country to this day. Lone Women, his latest novel, brings the reader to 1914 in a blend of historical fiction, gnawing dread, and irresistible prose.

Adelaide Henry is a woman on the run. Carrying a secret trunk wherever she goes, Adelaide holds to the secret it contains. A secret that might have killed her parents and others, for whenever the trunk opens, people have a disturbing tendency to vanish. Adelaide intends to take advantage of the government’s offer of free land in Montana to any who can cultivate it, becoming a homesteader. But secrets have a way of catching up to their holders.

The best way to describe LaValle’s style is “tense.” But from the very start of the book, LaValle immerses the reader in absolute dread. Adelaide is not merely on the run from her past, she carries it with her wherever she goes. As a single Black woman in 1914, Adelaide is subject to some of the worst prejudices of the day but refuses to cow under them. Making herself the guardian of a dark secret, Adelaide attempts to safeguard what she brings with her, intending that no others be lost, least of all her neighbors. But she may not be the only woman struggling with demons.

LaValle’s mastery lies in his characters. Each is a fully, beautifully fleshed out human being with hopes, fears, dreams, and flaws. Nobody is fully innocent, but all attempt to build their own destinies and fates in worlds that seek to deny them. Adelaide is a woman seeking redemption, doing her best, and the absolute emotional core of the novel.

The book’s pacing is ponderous, letting the reader soak in the horror they experience. The strong characterization keeps Lone Women going and above all, LaValle compels us to experience the strength a lone woman brings with her.

Grades:

Overall: 4 Star Rating Cover
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Zach Rosenberg
Staff Reviewer
Zach Rosenberg is a fantasy and horror writer living in Florida. He appreciates the ocean, wildlife and his love of literature was constantly nurtured growing up where he practically lived in the libraries, reading every horror and fantasy book he could get his hands on. His print debut short story "The Teeth Of the Deeps" is featured in the fifth short story collection from Dead Sea Press.
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