Yellow Locust by Justin Joschko
Release Date: May 8, 2018 | Publisher: Month9Books
Selena Flood is a fighter of preternatural talent. But not even her quick fists and nimble feet could save her parents from the forces of New Canaan, the most ruthless and powerful of the despotic kingdoms populating America-that-was.
Forced to flee the tyrannical state with her younger brother Simon in tow, Selena is now the last chance for peace in a continent on the verge of complete destruction.
In her pocket is a data stick, the contents of which cost her parents their lives. Selena must now ensure it reaches the Republic of California—a lone beacon of liberty shining across a vast and barren wasteland—before it’s too late.
Between New Canaan and California stretch the Middle Wastes: thousands of desolate miles home to murderers, thieves, and a virulent strain of grass called yellow locust that has made growing food all but impossible. So when Selena and Simon stagger into Fallowfield, an oasis of prosperity amidst the poisoned plains, everything seems too good to be true—including the warm welcome they receive from the town’s leader, a peculiar man known only as The Mayor.
As Selena delves deeper into the sinister secrets of this seemingly harmless refuge, she soon learns there is a much darker side to Fallowfield and the man who runs it. Before long, she must call upon the skills she honed in the fighting pits of New Canaan to ensure not only her own survival, but that of her brother, in whom the Mayor has taken far too keen an interest.
And she’d better act fast, for an all-out war inches ever closer, and New Canaan is never as far away as it seems.
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List your all-time favorite literary characters and why you like them.
My reading habits are pretty all over the map, so pegging down a favorite literary character is tricky. With that in mind, I’ve come up with a list of five characters I’m particularly fond of:
1) Charles Kinbote (from Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov): A stuffy academic (among other things) with delusions of grandeur (maybe), Kinbote manages the singular feat of editing his dead friend’s epic poem, writing 150 pages of footnotes, and still making the entire manuscript all about himself. Eloquent and arrogant in equal measure, Kinbote crank’s Nabokov’s mastery of the unreliable narrator to the absolute limit. After reading Pale Fire, I couldn’t be sure if every word was supposed to be a lie, the unvarnished truth, or somehow both at once.
2) Fiver (from Watership Down by Richard Adams): Hazel is a hero, Bigwig’s tough, but my heart has always belonged to little Fiver. Quiet, shy, and prone to anxiety, he overcomes all these issues when his gift of second sight informs him of a coming disaster, risking humiliation and scorn in his warnings to the rest of his warren. He remains a stalwart and insightful companion throughout Hazel’s journey, his bravery underscored by his fear.
3) Roland Deschain (from The Dark Tower series by Stephen King): What can you say about Roland of Gilead, Son of Stephen and heir to the greatest opening line in the history of American literature? A consummate badass, Roland can outshoot, outwit, and outlast any opponent foolish enough to stand between him and his Tower. Yet there remains a softness in the center of his ossified heart, and a genuine love for his ka-tet. The Dark Tower might be his quest, but his greatest struggle is to prove that a man is never too old to change.
4) Merricat Blackwood (from We have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson): My favorite narrator in all of fiction, Merricat Blackwood is a figure that defies definition. Her voice blends the viewpoints of starry-eyed childhood, sulky adolescence, and a world-weary fatalism that stands outside of time. A firm believer in magic and the unfairness of all things, she shows a profound love for her sister and affection for her uncle that belies her prickly exterior. Just don’t take any sugar if she invites you to tea.
5) Ignatius Reilly (from A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole): Ignatius J Reilly. Even his name is funny. Decrier of heathen centuries, lover of theology and geometry, hater of Mark Twain, wearer of funny hats, and possessor of a faulty pyloric valve, Ignatius is the greatest comedic character to ever grace a novel. Thirty years old, Ignatius still lives at home with his hard-done-by mother, where he spends his days watching cartoons, insulting everyone in his presence, and composing an endless ode to his genius on stack upon stack of Big Chief tablets. Though largely a blowhard, Ignatius is not without his moments of insight, as best seen in this bit of sage advice: “When Fortuna spins you downward, go out to a movie and get more out of life.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Justin Joschko is an author from Niagara Falls, Ontario. His writing has appeared in newspapers and literary journals across Canada. Yellow Locust is his first novel. He currently lives in Ottawa with his wife and two children.
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