Every now and then I focus on a New Pulp work that I think merits your attention. Sometimes it will be something that’s brand new, other times I’ll look at something that’s a few years old. This week, I’m encouraging you to check out The Bone Queen by Andrea Judy.
Before we talk about the book itself, let’s see how the publisher describes it:
From the Pages of THE PULPTRESS Comes A Villain Like No Other-THE BONE QUEEN by Andrea Judy. All of humanity shares one inescapable experience, one inevitable fate. They all die. And in death, one woman finds her destiny. To be a Villain, to stand toe to toe with the ultimate heroine, The Pulptress. But first, evil had to rise from somewhere dark. Renata, a devotee of Mene, Goddess of Death, is on a singular mission during the era of the Black Death: to kill the Necromancer who is bringing the dead back as chiffoniers, rag and bone men. With a small band of men who have survived the Plague, Renata must find who is attempting to steal away the power of death and destroy them once and for all. Chiffoniers dog them every step of the way. And when death itself finally comes for Renata, everything changes. Once hunted, she becomes the hunter, tracking down the necromancer at any cost to herself and those around her. THE BONE QUEEN by Andrea Judy reveals the origin of its title character, first featured in THE PULPTRESS from Pro Se Productions. Proving as popular as her foe, The Bone Queen now stands at the center of Judy’s first digest novel. From devotee to deliverer of death, follow Renata as she discovers her true purpose lies in what comes after life. May The Gods Help Us All.
Having read (and enjoyed) this character’s prior appearance in The Pulptress anthology, I was curious to see her back-story fleshed out. What we have here is definitely a fantasy novel, complete with zombies and supernatural entities galore. The opening prologue is set in the modern day but from there, it’s more Robert E. Howard than the masked vigilante genre that The Bone Queen made her debut in.
The author does some mighty fine combat scenes and handles certain details with true creepiness. The descriptions of The Bone Queen munching on her bone snacks was well-done each time. The inevitable fall of Renata is clearly choreographed (we’ve seen her ultimate state in the modern day, after all) but still compelling reading.
I found myself very interested in the supporting characters and their fates. In fact, while I’d prefer to see The Bone Queen in the modern day in the future, there’s obviously more stories to be told with these characters. Heck, if Judy wanted to, she could go back even further and do a prequel to THIS story, showing Renata’s path to becoming the warrior we find her as in this novel. I’d be interested in that, too.
Well-written, tightly plotted and powerful in its characterizations, The Bone Queen is, I think, the best villain yet created in the New Pulp field. I’d love to see her continue on in not only her own adventures but she’s perfectly built for more throw-downs with The Pulptress or other New Pulp heroes. The biggest compliment I can give is that I really wish I’d created her.