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June 2003
© 2003 Ernest Lilley / SFRevu
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Coyote Cowgirl by Kim Antieau
Forge HCVR: ISBN 0765302675 PubDate: June 2003
Review by Ernest Lilley

288 pages List price $24.95
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Have you ever read Coyote Cowgirl by Kim Antieau? Itís about food, family, love, betrayal, shamanism and food. Did I mention the food?

Charles de Lint says itís one of his favorite books, and I like stories about the southwest and that whole spirit in the land stuff so I thought Iíd give it a try. But I was determined to take Charles de Lintís opinion with a grain of salt. I mean, heís a seriously good writer, but what does he know? What's really good, it turns out.

The story is about a young woman in the southwest who's the misfit in a family of cooks. She can't cook, talks to a crystal skull, and in their opinion, is a few eggs shy of an omelet. Well, the skull did talk to her first, and  like lots of misfits, she gradually starts to understand that she would fit in just fine, if she could just find the right place, and listen to the right voices.

Especially the wisecracking voice of the family's heirloom skull. The one that fits on top of the ruby encrusted scepter that her father brings out twice a year on festival days. The scepter she was supposed to lock up in the safe (with the skull), not leave out while dallying with cousin Johnny, ("he's not really a cousin") who takes the scepter to pay off a gambling debt.

While her parents take off on vacation, Jeanne takes off to track down Johnny, and the skull, which hasn't talked to her since she was a child, breaks its silence to beg to come along. Bringing along the skull is good for Jeanne, because it's attuned to the scepter's vibrations and thus is able to guide her, and it's good for us because the snappy repartee between the two adds a wry touch to the proceedings and consternation to the onlookers.

Her chase takes her to Vegas and beyond, to a mysterious temple on radioactive land, and off to Mexico where her supposedly dead grandmother is living. But the hunter may be the hunted as well, and people start disappearing mysteriously in her wake. All too soon, it looks like Jeanne is closing in on her goal, much to the reader's dismay, but the past reveals itself to be mere prologue.

The story winds wonderfully on as she comes to grips with being psychic or crazy (whatever), cooking, love, and her place in the soup of life.

Coyote Cowgirl is a terrific read and one that crosses a number of genre boudaries, not the lease of which being rich fantasy and fine food.

sfr3d.gif (19860 bytes)© 2003 Ernest Lilley / SFRevu
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