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Desert Creatures (Hardcover)
In a world grown desiccated and treacherous, one young woman will find salvation or become just another rot-lonely skull in the sand.
Nine-year-old Magdala and her father have been exiled from their home; they flee through the harsh landscape of the American West, searching for refuge. As violence pursues them, they join a handful of survivors on a pilgrimage to the holy city of Las Vegas, where it is said that vigilante saints reside, bright with neon power. Magdala, born with a clubfoot, is going to be healed. But when faced with the strange horrors of the Sonoran Desert, one by one the pilgrims fall victim to a hideous sickness—leaving Magdala to fend for herself.
After surviving for seven years on her own, Magdala is tired of waiting for her miracle. Magdala turns her gaze to Las Vegas once more, and this time, nothing will stop her. She recruits an exiled Vegas priest at gunpoint to serve as her guide, and the pair form a fragile alliance as they navigate the darkest and strangest reaches of the desert, on a journey that takes her further from salvation even as she nears the holy city.With ferocious imagination and poetic precision, Desert Creatures is a story of endurance at the expense of redemption. What compromise does survival require of a woman—and can she ever unlearn the instincts that have kept her alive?
Combining the subversive inventiveness of Inland by Téa Obreht with the eco-surrealism of Jeff Vandermeer's Dead Astronauts and the themes of survival and morality in Cormac McCarthy's The Road, award-winning short fiction writer Kay Chronister transfigures genre and the myth of the West in this stylish and original debut novel.
About the Author
Kay Chronister is an award-winning writer of dark and speculative fiction. Her stories have appeared in Clarkesworld, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Strange Horizons, Shimmer, Black Static, The Dark and elsewhere. Her first collection of short fiction, Thin Places, was published by Undertow Publications in 2020 and has been nominated for a Shirley Jackson Award. Currently a PhD candidate in Literature at the University of Arizona, she researches romance, folklore, and politics in eighteenth-century Britain.
"Existing at the sweet spot where A Canticle for Leibowitz and Blood Meridian meet, Chronister's Desert Creatures is a vivid investigation of faith, perseverance, and human violence as they exist at the end of the world. A scintillating first novel." —Brian Evenson, winner of the World Fantasy and Shirley Jackson Awards
“Kay Chronister has crafted an incredible setting, pushing the wild weirdness of the Sonoran Desert toward the furthest extremes of possibility. I will never forget this uncanny world, nor brave Magdala's quest across it, contending with holy saints and hellish killers in a landscape whose every inch and inhabitant is as dangerous as they are in dire need of healing.” —Matt Bell, author of the New York Times Notable Book Appleseed
Praise for Thin Places:
“A powerful new voice in horror.” —Locus Magazine
“Grim but effervescent, Chronister’s economical prose packs a powerful punch.” —Publishers Weekly
——Brian Evenson, winner of the World Fantasy and Shirley Jackson Awards