A feminist novel upending the archetypal « western » in the vein of The Sisters Brothers meets Inland, set in 1889 in Washington Territory on the heels of a great fire about an inadvertently dangerous psychic and the two conmen she meets on her path to redemption.
by Leyna Krow
Viking, Summer 2022
(via Levine Greenberg Rostan)
For the citizens of Spokane Falls, a fire that destroyed their frontier boomtown was no disaster; it was an opportunity. Set in 1889 in Washington Territory on the heels of this event, FIRE SEASON tells the story of three characters who seize big opportunities the fire brings, though in different ways and to different ends. Barton Heydale, manager of the city bank, uses the ensuing chaos to embark on schemes of fraud, forgery, and kidnapping. Quake Auchenbaucher, a conman, suddenly finds his career in manipulation jeopardized. And there’s Roslyn Beck, an alcoholic prostitute with the ability to see the future and with whom both men fall madly and dangerously in love. Unbeknownst to them, she has a deviant influence that, for better or worse, can change the world. As their paths collide, diverge, and collide again, these three come to terms with their own needs for power, greed, and control — leading one to total ruin, one to heartbreak, and one, ultimately, to redemption.
In the incandescent, genre-bending spirit of Eleanor Catton’s The Luminaries, Karen Joy Fowler’s Sarah Canary, or Patrick deWitt’s The Sisters Brothers, with notes of Ottessa Moshfegh’s quick wit and wicked imagination, FIRE SEASON is playful, creepily magical, and historical, yes, but not in the traditional sense. The setting is a darkly whimsical approximation of what the Pacific Northwest was like at the end of the 19th century, and the characters may seem better suited to the modern literary fabulism of someone like Aimee Bender or Kelly Link than the wild west.
Leyna Krow’s first collection I’m Fine, But You Appear to Be Sinking (Featherproof Books, 2017) was a finalist for The Believer Book Award. Krow lives in Spokane, Washington with her husband and two children. She is at work on her second novel.
Photo credit: Young Kwak