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Award-winning speculative fiction writer Rivers Solomon’s latest is a dark and atmospheric examination of the violence done against Black, queer and female bodies in a white supremacist and patriarchal society. In the U.S. of Sorrowland, a group of Black Americans have built Cainland, a separatist colony that began as a refuge from white capitalism but has developed into a cult with its own systems of oppression based in Christian ideals about gender and sexuality. When 15-year-old Vern, an albino intersex Black girl, is impregnated by the cult leader, she decides to make her escape, hiding out in the surrounding forest where she gives birth to twins Howling and Feral. Over the next four years, while Vern heals from the trauma of Cainland and searches for a childhood friend who escaped before she did, she’s haunted by a specter she calls “the fiend” and her body transforms into something monstrous. It’s a hypnotic, often chilling depiction of the hard-won triumph of queer love and life over those who demonize both.

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