5 out of 5 stars
Nettie Lonesome is half-Injun, half-black and 100% alone in this world. Abandoned as an infant for unknown reasons, and raised by low class filthy white people who “run” a dilapidated ranch, Nettie has been alone for her entire life save for a one-eyed mule. She’s made to make Pap and Mam’s breakfast every day and do all the chores to keep the farm running. Her only friend an old cowpoke at the ranch next door who took pity on her and began teaching her how to break broncs. Now, she breaks the mangy nags that Pap brings home and sells for a little bit of money. Since she turned twelve and Pap saw her naked in the river washing, and the look in his eye was unsavory, she’s been dressing as a boy ever since.
One night, Nettie is attacked by a strange man in their yard, another man looking at her in an unsavory fashion. Except he doesn’t try to hide it. There’s something wrong with him, besides the obvious, his eyes are an unnatural color and he has fangs. Now Nettie Lonesome is no coward, so she sticks a sickle in his eye. He doesn’t die. Not until she stabs a stick into his heart. From then on, she sees things that have no right to be real.
Shortly thereafter, the ranch boss next door witnesses her skill at breaking broncs and hires her on. He doesn’t know she’s a girl but that’s okay, she’s more comfortable as a boy anyway. She’ll get to make money, have a roof over her head, food in the her belly, no longer be beat and do what she loves, working with horses. It’s everything she’s ever wanted from life, until a dying Indian woman curses her.
Now she’s being forced to hunt the Cannibal Owl by the Indian woman’s ghost and if she doesn’t she’ll die. The Cannibal Owl steals all the children of Indian tribes. Attacks in the night silently, the parents awake to find their children forever missing. No one knows what it looks like or what it does with the children. Nettie is about to embark on a journey of the paranormal to protect the new life she has built for herself and maybe she’ll learn more about who she is and where she comes from along the way.
Have you been looking for a book that just blasts the shit out of tropes and stereotypes and gives you an authentic glimpse into a person? That exposes the many ways that humans are not black and white? That there are shades of gray to everything and that that is perfectly okay? Here you fucking go. I have not read a more accepting book in a very long time. It made me feel all warm and glowing on the inside. It tickled my pizzle.