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The Lamb Will Slaughter the Lion

(Danielle Cain #1)

3.60  ·  Rating details ·  2,019 ratings  ·  433 reviews
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 sh
Kindle Edition, 130 pages
Published August 15th 2017 by
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ARC provided by Tor in exchange for an honest review.

“The revolution is about taking power away from the oppressors, not becoming them ourselves.”

Friends, pick up this so underhyped, yet so deserving of more hype, novella. I am blown away. Within 100 pages, this book was able to create a beautifully diverse cast, talk about some pretty important issues, showcases a homeless main character, show the beauty of unconditional-loving found families, and it even gave me some pretty gothic
destiny ♡⚔♡ [howling libraries]
#1 The Lamb Will Slaughter the Lion ★★★★★
#2 The Barrow Will Send What it May ★★★★★

”It’s strange how quickly it’s normal, there being magic in the world. It’s strange how little it changes about who we are as people.”

As a long-time horror fan, the biggest complaint I have had about the genre is how exclusive and problematic it can be. For a long time, it’s been really rare that you would find a horror book (or novella) that didn’t feature only white, straight characters—much less that you wou
Richard Derus
Nov 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rating: 4* of five
...the fuck did I just read...?

#ReadingIsResistance to run-of-the-mill fantasy reads. This ain't your uncle's LotR!


4 stars to *really* new Urban Fantasy starring genderqueer, celibate, anarchist punk leads in a life-or-death battle against the cops, the otherworld, and themselves! Publishing gets kudos for this great #Booksgiving gift.
Matthew Quann
Oct 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of my favourite things about reading is when I am able to inhabit a perspectives entirely different from my own. Reading is a great way to build empathy because it asks of the reader to abandon their own viewpoints in favour of another. When we engage with those different viewpoints, we are forced to try and understand them, and through that act come to appreciate another's existence. What's really special is when an author is able to provide such a unique viewpoint and voice that it makes e ...more
Skye Kilaen
Loved this dark fantasy / horror, magic-monster-fighting novella with a queer anarchist female lead. I don't know how Killjoy gets so much done in such a tight space - this could have easily been a full novel. The cast is large but balanced really well, and the atmosphere of foreboding is pitch perfect. Also it's a great example of a cast that's mostly queer without their queerness being the point of the story. (Not that there's anything wrong with that, it's just nice to have a mix.) Plus a slo ...more
K.J. Charles
I wolfed this down. It's a lovely and unusual read: a queer traveller comes to an off grid type settlement of anarchists and dropouts which has been set up as a utopia to discover why her friend left it and killed himself. Part of the reason might be the giant murderous demon stag he helped summon. Oops.

This is on one level a tense horror novel, where forces of the State and society and male violence are as much a sinister and pervasive threat as the heart-eating magic deer. But, as that suggest
Kaleigh Robbins
Nov 06, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Novellas can be a powerful tool when wielded by a competent crafter. The advantage of writing a novella is being able to delve into multiple aspects of one complex idea without having to reach for other sources of conflict. For storytellers more concerned with entertainment than deep thought, novellas are a challenge of self-discipline and creativity. They must tell a satisfying tale while heavily cutting anything that does not develop the narrative.
The Lamb Will Slaughter the Lion does none o
Feb 01, 2020 rated it liked it
You have to love the opening sentence of this short novel, which kind of sets the pace of everything that follows, due to its fatalistic energy: “Sometimes you have to pull a knife.” And use it, of course. But what do you if your opponent is a demon deer that kills animals and people with its deformed antler rack, using it to rip open their chests and devour their hearts … After which they carry on living, in true zombie fashion.

We meet the main character, Danielle Cain (whom you never want to c
Apr 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I was going to rate this 4 enthusiastic stars and realised that I actually see no reason to not give this 5 stars so: 5 stars!

Edit 10/05/17 : Just found out this is going to be a series and I'm HAPPY!! *currently working on my review but this is an August release so I won't post it this month ><*
Review originally posted on my blog!

I started reading this novella without having read the description first (as I often do…), mostly because it was super short and I was thinking
Jul 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
I REALLY enjoyed this, but I do think my enjoyment was very colored by the fact that I already own the sequel to this.

I really enjoyed the ways Killjoy played around with ideas of power. This is set in an anarchist/squatter commune that has summoned a (maybe?) vengeful demon. Killjoy examines how, often, we become the very thing we claim to be overthrowing. When it comes to power, this is something that we can observe throughout history. That she condensed a seemingly expansive theme into about
Aug 25, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
What a refreshing change of pace! Most horror stories rely on supposedly intelligent people doing stupid things to drive the plot, but The Lamb Will Slaughter the Lion relies on stupid people doing stupid things.
Nov 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: horror, fantasy
Danielle Cain is an itinerant traveler who arrives at the town of Freedom, a town in Iowa that's been abandoned and is now haven for other travelers, anarchists and squatters. Danielle's friend Clay had given up a life of traveling like Danielle's to settle there, but he'd suddenly left there and then committed suicide just a month ago. Danielle's in town to try to find out why.

After getting there and meeting various friends of Clay who'd been regaled with stories of the traveler, Clay's descrip
Feb 20, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Very forgettable, a bit didactic and far too American, this novella suffers from the real problem of having the author's passion foremost and the fantastical elements thought up to fit in with it.

Collectivist anarchists call up a spirit to ensure nobody can have power over anybody else. I guess it's supposed to be a meditation on the futility of utopianism and far-left dreams, but it bogged itself down in light urban fantasy style and fell flat. Too much Charles de Lint, not enough Tao Lin. Thi
It's Pride Month, and Tor decided to offer this novella for free in a collection of four stories featuring LGBTQ characters and themes. This is the first story, and man oh man, look at that cover! Gorgeousness. And such an intriguing title. I'd have picked that up, had I heard of it prior to getting it free. LOL Minor spoilers ahead, FYI.

Anyway, so my acquiring this in the way that I did meant that I didn't know anything at all about what the story would be about, and.. it was different. For su
Apr 27, 2018 rated it liked it
The Lamb Will Slaughter the Lion is the first novella in the Danielle Cain series, which follows a queer woman who has lived on the road for years and is now investigating the death of a friend. This leads her to Freedom, Iowa, a small almost-utopian town in which anarchy apparently works. If we ignore the murderous three-antlered deer who loves to disembowel those who try to seize power, of course.

I thought this was a solid beginning for a series, but nothing more - and I wanted more from this
Jan 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019
This quick read was amazing! It was kick ass, full of action and had dope characters who were straight to the point.
Danielle Cain is a wanderer, a rare one who does not want a fixed home. She wanders to Freedom, Iowa to discover the reason behind her friends death.
It’s an amazing plot, I hope I can discover more of this series to follow her and I would recommend this quick read to everyone!
Sarah Ames-Foley
“Fucking hell,” Thursday said. “It’s almost like you can’t summon otherworldly beings into existence, let them loose on your enemies, and set up a culture of worship around them without people getting all crazy.”

#1: The Lamb Will Slaughter the Lion ★★★★
#2: The Barrow Will Send What it May ???

i really liked this! it's not necessarily a new favorite, but it's an exciting horror novel that takes place in an anarchist commune and is filled with queer characters. i felt like things happened a little
Nov 24, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked this. I found the action a little chaotic and found it a little hard to keep some of the characters straight in my head, but there was something about this story, and its weary main character that I liked. The deer and all the zombie wildlife were pretty creepy, and I liked the claustrophobic feel of some of the scenes where Danielle and Brynn were skulking and hiding.
Annemieke / A Dance with Books
Upping this to 4,5 stars because the more I think about this book the more I realize it deserves it.

So many interesting ideas in this lovely novella that i througly enjoyed. I had honestly not heard of this before Tor had it as a free ebook of the month. But I am glad I grabbed it because this was great. A horror fantasy with queer representation. We need more of those.

You get dropped right into the action and I found that a little confusing at first but we get explanations quickly. It deals w
Oct 23, 2017 rated it liked it
A weird combination of Animal farm with Demon hunters in a horror setting. Decent enough. May have been better if a longer fleshed out story had been developed.
Aug 18, 2017 rated it it was ok
Solid 1.5-star meh from me. I liked the idea of Uliksi, I was excited for the promise of seeing a bunch of anarchists fight a demon-deer, and I am all over that gay shit. Unfortunately, the gay shit was sudden, unjustified and emotionless, the characters weren't fleshed out enough to be likable, the writing itself was boring and the whole thing was topped off with a really disappointing non-ending where the problem literally solves itself. It wasn't frightening, it wasn't really that endearing, ...more
Danielle Cain hitchhikes to Freedom, Iowa to discover what it was there that led her best friend Clay to kill himself. As soon as she arrives she sees an undead bloodred stag feeding on a rabbit. So clearly, something weird is up. She rapidly falls in with some of Clay's old friends, and they spill the story: Clay and a few others summoned a spirit to get rid of a power-hungry guy, and now the spirit pretty much rules their town. The townfolk (and for that matter, Danielle) are split about this: ...more
Leah Rachel von Essen
One of the newest novellas is The Lamb Will Slaughter the Lion by Margaret Killjoy, the first in a series, coming out August 15. Danielle Cain, a wanderer at heart (ha), arrives at the communal town that her friend had been so happy in—until he killed himself a few weeks earlier. She’s seeking answers, but she’ll find many more questions there than she’d like: starting with the blood-red, three-antlered, carnivorous deer she sees on her first day in town.

Killjoy paints a creepy world. I
Aug 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I read an excerpt from this, about a month before it came out - that was one long month!

It's a fantastic novella. I've read other, shorter, stories from Margaret Killjoy and they're usually the epitome of punk - short, punchy, and unapologetically unusual. That wouldn't always translate well to a longer form, but this book mellows out just enough. Mirroring the storyline, it's the punk that's found home, that can relax while staying true to themselves.

Danielle Cain is a semi-autobiographical cha
Read this several months ago. This is a cross between Buffy the Vampire slayer and anarcho-queer-squatter punk life. It was so, so lovely to be immersed in a life-style that feels so comfortable to me (but that I've also never seen done well in fiction). My only hope is that following stories will give us more character depth.
4.5 stars

this was... a wild ride. fuck yeah queer anarchism though

I liked Vulture ask Danielle about her pronouns, but I wish there was like, nonbinary characters too. still, solid good book with multiple queer mains.

tw for suicide and mention of a rape. also, general gore and horror things
Rachel Brand
My pre-order arrived an entire day early and I was like, "Yes, I'm going to binge-read this and ignore all the Nazis!" and then my three-year-old was like, "LOL, parents don't have time to binge-read books." Thus, a 125-page novella took me four days to read. It would probably be best appreciated it in one sitting, but there is something kind of fun about sneaking a few pages here and there, mostly on buses (with people giving you odd looks as they peer over your shoulder and spot details about ...more
Feb 20, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018, owned
Very interesting character work and beautifully atmospheric writing. I found the sense of place and the imagery to be evocative and memorable, and I enjoyed the voice. I didn't really care one way or the other about anarchism except to find the book a tiny bit preachy (I mean, it's not that it's not critical, but the characters can certainly get expository).

The thing is, the energy seems to peter out a little about 2/3 through. The final confrontation was abrupt and I could have used a more ela
David H.
Dec 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, novella
I had fun with this one; a nomadic punk drops in on a town full of anarchists in Iowa that's guarded by a demonic deer spirit. It was fun following Danielle as she connected with the residents and helped figure things out. It did seem a bit too pat at the climax, bu I'm willing to see where this goes.
Jun 23, 2019 rated it liked it
Continuing with LGBT month novellas. This one, unlike the lovely Passing Strange, didn’t quite sing for me. The town of anarchist punks was an entertaining creation and the demon they summoned was conceptually and ideologically interesting one, but the characters, much like punks and anarchists, just didn’t really engage me very much. The author seems to know the lifestyle (going from her bio) and writes it convincingly, so it is an interesting thing to vicariously visit, but definitely ...more
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Margaret Killjoy is a transfeminine author and editor currently based in the Appalachian mountains. Her most recent book is an anarchist demon hunters novella called The Barrow Will Send What it May, published by She spends her time crafting and complaining about authoritarian power structures and she blogs at

Other books in the series

Danielle Cain (2 books)
  • The Barrow Will Send What it May (Danielle Cain #2)

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As dedicated readers already know, some of the best and most innovative stories on the shelves come from the constantly evolving realm of young ...
39 likes · 12 comments
“Always afraid, never a coward” 1 likes
“Maybe because he’d been exiled from paradise by a beast of his own making. Because he’d decided Freedom was home, and he couldn’t come back. That’s what having a home will do to you. Maybe.” 1 likes
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