Not a story for the faint of heart, Lilith Saintcrow’s latest novel plays on the darkest elements of current American culture, and flashes an unmistakable warning about a potential future ruled by xenophobia and white supremacy. Saintcrow’s dystopia has its roots in very real issues, and some of the references to current political divisions are startling prescient. However, her references to historic genocides, though very clear and well made, do not always sit comfortably in this modern day narrative, and detracts on a number of levels from the powerful cautionary tale of hatred, hope, growth and redemption that unfolds here.
The surrender has been signed to end the United States’ second civil war, but for the partisans and prisoners who survived the horrors of the war, the worst may very well be yet to come. When her kamp is liberated, one-time doctor Lara Nelson joins Swann’s Riders, a group of fighters who remain on the hunt for war criminals and escaped kamp officials. Their next target poses the biggest known threat to the new Federal government, but even that isn’t enough to detract Lara from her own private promises of revenge. (ORBIT, May, 416 pp., $15.99)