The Lamb Will Slaughter the Lion

January 15, 2018 at 6:00 pm (Reads) (, , )

lambThe Lamb Will Slaughter the Lion by Margaret Killjoy

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I think it’s fantastic that Tor.com Publishing has put a focus on underrepresented groups as writers and as characters in their publications. It brings to focus people who have been kept in the background, who have been forced to keep secrets, and the more we read the books with those characters, by those writers, the more we grow to accept them. The sooner this can happen, the better.

The Lamb Will Slaughter the Lion features a variety of characters, including trans characters and gay characters, and uses them to tell a story about a vindictive spirit that preys on the hunters. The story is set in a commune called Freedom, Iowa, where a group of anarchists have created an idyllic place where all of those who have been cast aside by society can live. Our narrator enters the town in search of answers regarding a friend who had lived there before going off to commit suicide, and what she finds, along with an open market where people can take the food they need, open gardens where everyone contributes, and the freedom to make choices outside of societal expectations, is a blood-red, three-horned deer that kills and eats the hearts of predators. Unfortunately, that includes humans.

This is a novella with something to say, and Killjoy doesn’t shy away from saying it, loudly and clearly. It reads more like a treatise on anarchy than it does a fairy tale, and Killjoy highlights the pitfalls of such a society as much as the benefits. It’s a story that bleeds its meaning through the plot, and while I’ve enjoyed that kind of story in the past (Laurie Penny’s contribution to this line of novellas was particularly good), here I found myself less interested. Part of me feels too old to get behind the idea of a commune. They appealed more when I was younger, but now I see the reality of them, where one person with a desire for power can easily corrupt the system and destroy it for everyone else.

The story moves quickly. It feels like Killjoy is more focused on her treatise than the story, so characterization isn’t as strong as it could be. They waver between good and bad, which could be another point of the story, but it’s hard to get invested in the story since they don’t feel realized. Killjoy is a good writer, and creates a good story, but it doesn’t sing like it could with better characters. Had it been a longer work, with more time to develop the characters, maybe it could have been more impactful.

The Lamb Will Slaughter the Lion isn’t a bad book, but I’m afraid people will finish it wanting more, but not in an “I can’t wait for the sequel!” kind of way. It doesn’t feel unfinished, but neither does it feel incomplete. It just feels rushed, which is a shame, since the message and the plot feel substantial. I understand this is the first in a series, so maybe that will come. As it is, though, I’m not convinced I’ll be reading the next installment.

Started: October 23, 2017
Finished: October 24, 2017

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