Well, almost all. Years ago, there was a man who taught her how to survive, and there was a boy she travelled with, but she's alone now. And she's content in her self-imposed exile. Or as content as it's possible for her to be.
Circumstances require that she leave her island haven, though, and while she's back in the world, she runs afoul of tracker Moses Todd:
You know what I think? she says.
What do I think?
She points through the hole into the dark throat of the diseased landscape.
I think you're more dangerous than what's out there.
Well, little girl, he says, that's a funny thing you just uttered. Because I was just now thinkin the same thing about you.
Holy cow, guys. I'd heard (you know, around the online water cooler or wherever) that The Reapers are the Angels was good, but I hadn't realized to what degree of good. It's seriously, seriously... well, it's not your average zombie novel. (And I know of what I speak, as I've read a lot of average -- as in mediocre AND/OR generic -- zombie novels.)
As I read it, I kept thinking of Flannery O'Connor. And of Faulkner. Not just because of the Southern Gothic feel, but because Alden Bell captures that same beauty-in-the-midst-of-horror and resignation-to-tragedy-beyond-our-definition-of-tragedy that I think of when I think of Faulkner and O'Connor.
The dialect is flawless, the stylistic choices feel natural and unpretentious and satisfying, and in general, it's gorgeously, impeccably written:
Inside, the house looks like something she's seen in movies--metalwork frilly like lace, the whole place kingly and oblivious.
I love that, 'kingly and oblivious'. The worldbuilding is extremely well done: it isn't an epic, sweeping sort of worldbuilding, because that isn't the focus of the book, but it's the little details that just makeit. For instance, Temple's versions of well-known old-timey songs sound like she's learned them via a game of Telephone that's gone on for years -- which, really, is exactly how she would have learned them.
Word of warning: After finishing it, I tweeted:
So there's that. It's a heartbreaker of a book -- it put a lump in my throat for a good 200 pages and made me cry buckets when I'd finished -- and it's a special one. Temple herself -- deep-thinking, angry, broken-and-unbroken at the same time -- is a character I won't forget for a long, long time. I'll leave you with her:
And sometimes, she says, sometimes you just get tired of pokin at the issue. Those are the times you just do something because you're tired of thinkin on it. And that's when the devil better get his pencil ready to tally up a score, cause the time for nuances is gone. And you think, that's it for me on this world. You think, all right then, hell is my home.
Book source: ILLed through my library.