Desert Creatures (Hardcover)

Desert Creatures By Kay Chronister Cover Image
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Eleven-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.

About the Author

Kay Chronister is a finalist for the Shirley Jackson and World Fantasy Awards for her short fiction, which has appeared in Strange Horizons, Clarkesworld, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, The Dark, and elsewhere. Her first collection, Thin Places, was published by Undertow Publications in 2020. Originally from Washington State, she has spent time in Virginia, Cambodia, and Arizona. She now lives in the Philadelphia area with her dogs and her husband. Desert Creatures is her first novel.

Praise For…

★ “Chronister’s futuristic, dog-eat-dog Sonoran and Mojave deserts are as devastating as they are inventive. . . . Chronister cleverly deploys and subverts horror, dystopian and western genres alike in this razor-sharp novel.” —Shelf Awareness, starred review

“If The Canterbury Tales was set in future Sonoran and Mojave deserts, it might look a little like this . . . [A] strange and frightening vision.” —Publishers Weekly

“Chronister pierces with her prose. You’ll find hope and acts of kindness in an unkind world. Desert Creatures is not a comfort read—it is rife with horror, betrayal, and a landscape that will burn itself on your consciousness. But in the end, this book will comfort you.” —BookRiot’s "Best Books of 2022"

“Genre-shredding . . . Stunning . . . A story of both creation and apocalypse, where characters struggle with both belief and heresy.” —

“In [this] distorted version of Las Vegas wherein false saints peddle false promises, . . . a rejected girl takes a wretched journey whose inward dimensions hold the potential for healing. . . . Heartbreaking.” —Foreword Reviews

“A vivid investigation of faith, perseverance, and human violence as they exist at the end of the world . . . Scintillating.” —Brian Evenson, author of Song for the Unraveling of the World

“Incredible . . . 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.” —Matt Bell, author of Appleseed

“[Desert Creatures] does for the Southwest desert what Jeff VanderMeer did for Florida’s swamps and Algernon Blackwood did for the Danube. . . . Unlike most post-apocalyptic works, the narrative never revels in the downfall of modernity, but scavenges in the remnants of what was and calls forth the twinned opulences of medieval Catholicism and Las Vegas as its guideposts. . . . This is the book of monsters our liminal year deserves.” —Ancillary Review of Books

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

Product Details
ISBN: 9781645660521
ISBN-10: 1645660524
Publisher: Erewhon Books
Publication Date: November 8th, 2022
Pages: 288
Language: English