cover image Kind One

Kind One

Laird Hunt. Coffee House (Consortium, dist.), $14.95 trade paper (192p) ISBN 978-1-56689-311-4

Hunt tells an unforgettable tale of the savagery of antebellum America in his haunting newest (after The Impossibly). Married off at a young age to her mother's second cousin, the teenaged Ginny quickly discovers that her new husband's Kentucky pig farm isn't the bucolic idyll she'd been promised. Linus quickly devolves from promising spouse to abusive master of his wife as well as two of his slaves, Cleome and Zinnia, whom the lonely Ginny befriends. But Linus isn't content to man the slaughter alone: "He said if we were all going to eat pig%E2%80%A6 then we ought to kill it%E2%80%A6 The years went by and we ate and ate and so we killed and killed." Eventually, Linus's reign of violence impels Ginny to starting raising her own hand against Cleome and Zinnia. But when Linus suddenly dies, the slave girls turn the tables on their brutal mistress and keep her shackled in a shed next to Linus's decaying body. Though the chronologically disjointed story is relayed through the points of view of several characters, Hunt deftly maintains an unsettling tone and a compelling narrative that will linger with readers long after the last page. (Oct.)