cover image Afterwar


Lilith Saintcrow. Orbit, $15.99 trade paper (416p) ISBN 978-0-316-55824-2

Saintcrow’s grim, disturbingly timely tale of vengeance takes readers down into the blood and guts of civil war and its aftermath in a fractured, all-too-plausible future America. The malignant President McCoombs and his cronies have surrendered after America’s Second Civil War, and D.C. is under martial law. The reign of terror against immigrants and “degenerates” is supposedly over, but Lara Nelson knows otherwise: she was labeled an undesirable, captured, tortured, experimented on, and forced into prostitution in Kamp Gloria. Eventually she was freed by vigilante Phil Swann and his motley crew; now nicknamed Spooky, she travels with them, bringing the remnants of their Amerika First oppressors to justice and working to restore order. The group’s small kindnesses make Spooky feel safe even as she wades through the devastation, but she’s hiding horrifying secrets and has some unfinished business. Vivid prose highlights the immediacy of battle, and the war-fractured landscape and the emotional and physical toll of fighting are realistically drawn. This is an unsettling vision of an America in the grip of hatred, zealotry, and divisiveness, and only the finale offers a tiny glimmer of hope. Agent: Miriam Kriss, Irene Goodman Literary. (May)