I Can’t Wait For…The Bride Hunt of Elk Mountain by Lumen Reese

Posted 27th July 2022 by Sia in Can't-Wait Wednesday / 0 Comments

Can’t-Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted over at Wishful Endings to spotlight and discuss the books we’re excited about but haven’t yet read. Most of the time they’re books that have yet to be released, but not always. It’s based on the Waiting on Wednesday meme, which was originally hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine

This week my Can’t-Wait-For Book is The Bride Hunt of Elk Mountain by Lumen Reese!

The Bride Hunt of Elk Mountain by Lumen Reese
Genres: Horror, Queer Protagonists, Sci Fi
Representation: Deaf MC, sapphic MC
Published on: 30th September 2022

Every five years the girls of Elk Mountain wake up in the woods, where the simple farm boys they grew up with become predators and hunt them for brides.

Dan Lightman returns to the mountain to help the Marlow sisters. Lizzie is twenty, deaf since childhood and worried that she could end up married to a man who won't learn to communicate with her, that she won't have a voice in her own home. Beck is seventeen, exchanging secret letters with a girl from the other side of the mountain, and she'll kill or die before she'll marry anyone else. Nellie is only fourteen, and all she wants is a few more years, to grow up on her own terms.

All three girls live in the shadow of their beautiful eldest sister, Julia. Five years ago - at the last Bride Hunt - she refused the man who caught her, and she was killed for it. The barbaric ritual is a sacred rite of passage to a fringe sect of Catholicism in post-apocalyptic, small-town Appalachia. Dan is one of the hunt's only critics. He was once too afraid to fight for the girl he loved, but now he’s back with a hired cutthroat and a plan to save the remaining Marlow sisters from their gruesome fate...

This is the sort of book that’s basically guaranteed to make me rage at the patriarchy, so I’m going to need to be in the right headspace when I try to read it – but damn, that description has not left me alone since I first saw it. Everything about this sounds… horrifiyingly compelling? I think that’s what I mean.

It doesn’t matter how many dystopia-type things I read, I can never imagine what it would feel like to live in that kind of horror show.

Bride Hunt probably wouldn’t be a can’t-wait-for book for me, though, if not for these particular characters – Lizzie, who’s Deaf; Beck, who’s queer; and Nellie, who is way to young to be marrying anybody under any circumstances. That shifts the perspective quite a lot – it’s not just a dystopia (can you describe it as a dystopia when the setting is so localised?) it’s one that isn’t putting blandly pretty, able-bodied cishet women and girls front and centre, and I massively appreciate that.

Like – dystopic fringe churches are always bad. But they’re worse if you’re AFAB, generally, and a lot worse if you’re AFAB and young/queer/disabled, or some mix thereof.

That applies to real-world fringe and not-so-fringe churches as well, ofc. Which may be Reese’s point.

Either way, I’m definitely going to be reading this one.


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