Hank Goodness is back — from a lot of things — and in Hogtown Market she trades one kind of trouble for about seven or so more.
I had a habit of going along and being easy until I had an idea of what might happen next, but experience had taught me some good reasons not to do that anymore.
(All quotes from the kindle version and I don’t have page numbers, sorry; title of this post is also a novel pull-quote)
Minor spoilers ahead. Also, a side note of a sort: I am usually either the person who sits down and chews through a novel from start to finish or I read in spates while in the bathroom or waiting in offices or what have you. This book, I doled out in chapters because no matter how fast I wanted to read it I also didn’t want to come to the end too damn quick.
At the end of the first book in this series, Dust Bath Revival (which I reviewed here), Hank (Henrietta, but you can’t call her that and she won’t tell you) Goodness had just escaped from The Station with her new friend Jimmy. The entirety of who Hank is at this point would be far too much of a spoiler for me to share, but understand that she is no longer anything as simple as a human being with the Sight. And in this world of Dust, where the dead come back as Reborn, Hank and Jimmy have to find their way to someplace at least a little safer than the Station, where Hank underwent the first part of her transformation.
Hungry Reborn seemed bad enough to me, and government people double-crossing those they’d promised to protect.
Of course, the first thing Hank and Jimmy have to deal with are the fangs of a snake in the grass. Once they’ve survived that, they can set about finding Ben, Hank’s brother whose removal from their childhood home was the catalyst for the events of the first book that led her to Hogtown Market.
Kirby’s prose style is lush and colloquial in a good way; her descriptions make places and people seem very real and present (though not always pleasant):
The gnawing that had to be in her belly raised a sympathy pang from mine, but I kept my hand raised, kept my feet planted like I had deep and thirsty roots tying me to the ground.
We’d run across a few signs of humanity, like the broken-up railroad arch that made me think a train had come through here at some point and changed its mind.
Like Dust Bath Revival, Hogtown Market addresses issues of hunger and appetite and the intersection of the two, but also issues of fairness in one’s dealings, the way the world tends to come back to a balance that teeters like a desk toy bicyclist. Kirby’s Florida that might have been is rich with swamp and plains and monsters that look like monsters and monsters you’d never think twice about passing by in the nighttime. And Hank is, slowly, learning to negotiate being a mid-sized fish in some barracuda-infested waters.
I can honestly say if you liked the first one, you’ll like this one. In addition to the stuff above, there’s family, there’s love, there’s a certain amount of intrigue, there’s a fair amount of gore, but it’s still a dark and fascinating ride. Hopeful, at the end, and while Hank & co. could rest where they are, I’d say (and not just because I know the author) it’s pretty sure they’re not going to.