Lord of Cal­i­for­nia

An­drew Va­len­cia

Foreword Reviews - - Reviews Adult Fiction -

Ig Pub­lish­ing (JAN­UARY) Soft­cover $16.95 (284pp) 978-1-63246-059-2

This dystopian novel is po­etic even in its aus­ter­ity.

An­drew Va­len­cia’s dystopian Lord of Cal­i­for­nia is set in ru­ral, iso­lated Cal­i­for­nia a few decades af­ter it dis­bands from the United States. When El­liot Tem­ple dies, each of his five wives learn of his deep du­plic­ity. They and their many chil­dren must band to­gether to pro­tect their land and liveli­hoods.

The book is or­ga­nized into three nar­ra­tives, each from a dif­fer­ent child of El­liot’s. It be­gins with thir­teen-year-old El­lie’s as­tute and blunt per­spec­tive. Her brother An­thony’s sec­tion is punc­tu­ated by stream-of-con­scious­ness rants with in­spired lyri­cal lines, like “For­give me for be­ing in­vig­o­rated by un­clean things. For­give the ri­fle strap, for­give the kill” that touch on his spir­i­tual strug­gle.

This sto­ry­telling method suc­ceeds thanks to the novel’s plain elo­quence and the com­plex vul­ner­a­bil­ity of its char­ac­ters. Sim­ple mo­ments of ca­ma­raderie with El­lie and An­thony seem or­di­nary, but they are poignantly mo­men­tous for the sib­lings. At a school dance, the two quiet out­siders skip out to eat Chi­nese take­out and watch their fa­vorite show to­gether.

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