The Lamb Will Slaughter the Lion (Danielle Cain #1) by Margaret Killjoy

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ARC provided by Tor in exchange for an honest review.

“The revolution is about taking power away from the oppressors, not becoming them ourselves.”

Friends, pick up this so underhyped, yet so deserving of more hype, novella. I am blown away. Within 100 pages, this book was able to create a beautifully diverse cast, talk about some pretty important issues, showcases a homeless main character, show the beauty of unconditional-loving found families, and it even gave me some pretty gothic spooky animals. This was amazing, and I think truly believe so many of my book friends would love it.

The Lamb Will Slaughter the Lion follows Danielle Cain entering a new town of squatters, who have turned this little town in Iowa into something so damn special. In Freedom, Iowa these people have come together and created a community that truly believes in helping everyone and making sure everyone is treated equally and equally giving and taking from the community. Danielle is twenty-eight and has been moving from place to place for the last ten years. But Danielle sought-after this town specifically, because it was the last place her best friend lived before committing suicide.

“No cops, no bosses, no landlords. No poverty. No laws. Hard work and community and freedom and all the shit that we ought to have.”

And right off the bat, when Danielle meets Vulture, he asks her which pronouns she prefers, and then tells Danielle which pronouns he uses. It was so easy, but so important, and I wish we lived in a world where this was the standard when meeting someone. And it started the book off in such a great way for me.

Yet, on the first day Danielle comes to town, a man dies, pretty brutally, from a monster deer demon, named Uliksi, that was summoned to kill anyone in the town that tries to gain power over anyone. Yeah, you read that sentence right. And this tale quickly turns into a mystery of if Uliksi has turned against the town, or if this mystical deer is still only after those who have committed evil acts.

“Uliksi hunts the vengeful, the hateful. As Clay put it, Uliksi hunts those who wield power over others.”

These 100 pages hold such a magical story, but like I said above, they also hold such important themes and discussions. This book talks about the importance of pronouns. This book has an almost full queer cast, with a lot of racial diversity, too. Then, there are discussions to be had about how we live in the most powerful country in the world, but we give some citizens nothing, and others everything. And at the heart of this novella, it is a book about power imbalances, and how people misuse that power for the good of only themselves. Different power dynamics are always at the forefront of this book. Danielle has a panic attack in this book, and it is written exactly how mine feel. This was probably the most accurate description to my personal feelings when having (and starting) one, that I’ve ever read. Also, this book starts by Danielle wanting to go to the last lived in town of her best friend who killed themselves. And there is absolutely no suicide shaming in this book. There is a part where someone asks Danielle if she is upset and she says something like, “only at the world” and I was weeping. Perfection.

“We do good things too, but you don’t get props for not hurting people.”

Trigger/Content Warnings: mention of suicide, mention of rape, animal death, death of a friend/loved one, abuse, violence, and gore. Also, just in case I did a sub-par job at explaining it: this is a horror novel, so it’s a tad bit on the spooky side, so use caution.

“For the past year, we’ve had this benevolent, murderous spirit watching over us. Which is weird, but it’s gone fine.”

This is such a unique story too, because even though it is set in modern day times, with Instagram, the internet, and iPhones, it still feels and reads dystopian. But I loved this, I loved the aesthetic, I loved every emotion this short book was able to evoke from me. This was nothing short of a treat to read. Also, give me all the books about summoning demons, especially monster deer. Thanks.

Danielle finds herself trusting strangers and entering this beautiful found family who truly cares about the members, even though society has turned their backs on them. From witch’s huts, to towns built on trust, to undead animals, to secret notes left in books, I fell in love with this story. And I loved Danielle, but these side characters? Vulture, Thursday, Doomsday, and Brynn have all carved out a special place in my heart and I can’t wait to read more about them and their adventures in The Barrow Will Send What it May! Also, nothing warmed my heart more than Vulture and his Instagram! But please stop sleeping on this book and give this important and wonderful little book a try! I promise, you won’t regret it.

“There’s only a small handful of things in this world that make me happy, and coffee is one of them.”

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16 thoughts on “The Lamb Will Slaughter the Lion (Danielle Cain #1) by Margaret Killjoy

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