This one was recommended by fellow Cannonballers/Pajibans when I requested help finding women sci-fi writers, and I am so glad! It was post-apocalyptic and interesting and original. I had read some McIntyre before, but not this one.
Snake is a healer, traveling around and helping people in villages that are too small to have their own resident healer. She works with three snakes, using their poison to combat cancers or other diseases, and using the ultra-rare dreamsnake to ease pain until the end in the cases she can’t cure. When her dreamsnake is killed by a panicked villager, she sets out on a quest to get a new one.
The world-building is interesting. We only get glimpses into what’s going on. There is an advanced civilization in a far-off walled city, whose inhabitants refuse to share knowledge or technology. There are hints of spacecraft. There are dead spots in the land that still leak radiation from a long-ago war. But we don’t get details about any of it; we just get pieces as Snake travels. We see nomadic people and feudal-type villages, but unlike so much other post-apocalyptic stuff, women are chieftains and healers and leaders and it’s NBD, plus multiple examples of poly relationships. It’s very refreshing.
Snake herself starts out a bit whiny, and the end is a bit abrupt, but all the stuff in the middle is great.