Desert Creatures by Kay Chronister // Published by Erewhon Books, Available November 8, 2022
The Premise: The world isa desert that is alive. It claims people and animals, changing them into plants and monsters. There are numerous parties of people that practice different religious beliefs and pray/worship various saints. Most people are unfriendly and untrusting. // More here – https://www.erewhonbooks.com/desert-creatures-by-kay-chronister
The Review: I was a little torn on how to rate this story. I loved the premise of the world and the changes the desert made on people. I liked the idea of saint-touched people that could perform miracles. I liked some of the groups that were introduced, like the cactus-sitters. However, a lot of the characters were lacking depth. This novel was also, essentially, three novelettes stitched together. Each part is a story that can stand on its own. One character is featured forward throughout. I would have preferred the author put these stories together as one in a more fluid way, or just stick to one and expand upon it. Also, the world that is promised is very cool but hardly used. For example, the desert claims people and animals, changing them. I expected and wanted far more of that than we received.
Drawbacks: The three-part structure feels incomplete in the sense it tells three stories that can stand on their own. // In Part 1, the character tell stories of saints and martyrs and themselves, but each time I was taken out of the active story as a result. // The presented world is loosely described and should have been expanded. The monstrous animals and people were very lacking, as if forgotten. // Some sequences we’re played out too quickly and lacked detail. // Most characters were weak, just names to follow. // I never really understood why the heretic was allowed to leave with the girl. I understood their trade but it didn’t seem like the Pope would be gone for it. And why was he collecting the heretics to begin with? All of that was very weakly explained.
Highlights: The presented world is an awesome one that brings to mind The Last of Us in a Wid West setting. // When the desert-claimed people an animals are present, my imagination went wild. // The writing is mostly engaging, despite some quickly told moments and underdeveloped characters. // The lead girl had a lot of potential as a forerunner. The heretic was also interesting. // The idea of saint-touched people delivering miracles was a nice touch.
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