Thank you to One World and Edelweiss for sending me a copy of Lone Women in exchange for an honest review!

Adelaide Henry has made her way from California to Montana. She left her dead parents and everything she knew behind to start a new life. Adelaide is a “lone woman”, taking advantage of the government’s offer of free land to anyone who will attempt to cultivate it. But Adelaide isn’t truly alone. She brought with her an enormous steamer trunk, one that must remain locked if she and those around her are to stay safe.

The opening scene of Lone Women is riveting. We follow Adelaide as she slowly, methodically, burns down the house she grew up in, her parents’ bodies still inside. We know something terrible happened to them, but not what. She takes with her a literal heavy burden – a padlocked steamer trunk she drags from California out to an isolated homestead in Montana. With these opening chapters, Victor LaValle brings readers a masterclass in suspense.

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Lone Women works best when centered on Adelaide, who is under threat from every direction. She struggles to simply survive, away from her life on a sunny California farm and the community she once knew. She’s a woman alone in the near-wilderness, miles away from anyone who may help her. Adelaide is strong, physically and mentally, but the weight of survival and the secret she bears takes its toll. There’s so much tension present when Adelaide is fighting her way through the winter. LaValle’s prose is powerful enough that I felt I was right alongside Adelaide struggling to stay warm in her one-room shack.

This isn’t just Adelaide’s story, however. It’s the story of a small town, of the bonds and burdens of family and of the need for community. The community Adelaide builds, small as it may be, is vital to her survival. Lone Women focuses on the ugly side of people. However, it also demonstrates how much stronger women are when they stand together.

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While I loved getting to know the characters, adding alternate points of view halfway through the book took something away. Too many voices bogged down the plot and took away from what the big twist meant for Adelaide. The novel worked best when the narration was tight, and I wish that could have remained consistent throughout.

Overall, however, Lone Women is an atmospheric and spooky example of a weird western. Blending horror, historical fiction and fantasy, LaValle brings readers a vivid and haunting story of life as a lone Black woman in the American west. I’m looking forward to discovering more of his work.

Lone Women comes out on March 28 and is available for preorder from your local independent bookstore or

TW: animal death, blood, body horror, child abuse/death, death, fire/fire injury, gore, grief, gun violence, mental illness, miscarriage, murder, misogyny, racism, sexism, suicide, transphobia, violence, xenophobia

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