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

Danielle Cain is a queer punk rock traveller, jaded from a decade on the road. Searching for clues about her best friend’s mysterious and sudden suicide, she ventures to the squatter, utopian town of Freedom, Iowa. All is not well in Freedom, however: things went awry after the town’s residents summoned a protector spirit to serve as their judge and executioner.

Danielle shows up in time to witness the spirit—a blood-red, three-antlered deer—begin to turn on its summoners. Danielle and her new friends have to act fast if they’re going to save the town—or get out alive.

YEAR: 2017
LENGTH: 130 pages
AGE: Adult
GENRE: Fantasy, Horror

Queer Rep Summary: Gay/Achillean Secondary Character(s), Trans Main Character(s), Ace/Aro Secondary Character(s).

*I listened to this as read by the author on the CZM Book Club Sunday episodes of the podcast It Could Happen Here posted between October 8th and October 29th, 2023.

I liked most of THE LAMB WILL SLAUGHTER THE LION. It has some interesting ideas about punk and anarchism as import elements of the setting and plot, but some of that was conveyed more by the CZM book club commentary than the actual text. Since there isn't an audiobook, that was a great way to listen to the story. It feels like a cross between a modern fable and an anti-police procedural, as Danielle is trying to figure out what's happening in the punk settlement and how to stop people from dying. As the first book in a series (current of two books but there might eventually be more), this functions almost completely as a stand-alone story, then at the very end it specifically sets up the idea of more stories to come. The ending felt a bit too neat, as all of a sudden everything was solved and the problems are fixed, which definitely contributed to it feeling like a fable where the lesson is more important than any realism. 

Graphic/Explicit CW for blood, gore, violence, death.

Moderate CW for murder, fire/fire injury, vomit, gun violence, police brutality, injury detail, medical content, suicide, animal death.

Minor CW for self harm, rape.

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The upside-down reflection in water of a deer with three antlers


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