YELLOW LOCUST: Book One by Justin Joschko -- Selena Flood is a fighter of preternatural talent. But not even her quick fists and nimble feet could save her parents from the forces of New Canaan, the most ruthless and powerful of the despotic kingdoms populating America-that-was. ***Excerpt -- Guest Post: Find out what life is like for those in Justin Joschko's world -- Giveaway***

Yellow Locust

Book One

Justin Joschko

Genre: Science Fiction Dystopian

Publisher: Month9Books
Date of Publication: May 8, 2018
ISBN: 978-1-946700-63-6
ASIN: B079828BLX
Number of pages: 306
Cover Artist: Danielle Doolittle

Selena Flood is a fighter of preternatural talent. But not even her quick fists and nimble feet could save her parents from the forces of New Canaan, the most ruthless and powerful of the despotic kingdoms populating America-that-was.

Forced to flee the tyrannical state with her younger brother Simon in tow, Selena is now the last chance for peace in a continent on the verge of complete destruction.

In her pocket is a data stick, the contents of which cost her parents their lives. Selena must now ensure it reaches the Republic of California—a lone beacon of liberty shining across a vast and barren wasteland—before it’s too late.

Between New Canaan and California stretch the Middle Wastes: thousands of desolate miles home to murderers, thieves, and a virulent strain of grass called yellow locust that has made growing food all but impossible. So when Selena and Simon stagger into Fallowfield, an oasis of prosperity amidst the poisoned plains, everything seems too good to be true—including the warm welcome they receive from the town’s leader, a peculiar man known only as The Mayor.

As Selena delves deeper into the sinister secrets of this seemingly harmless refuge, she soon learns there is a much darker side to Fallowfield and the man who runs it. Before long, she must call upon the skills she honed in the fighting pits of New Canaan to ensure not only her own survival, but that of her brother, in whom the Mayor has taken far too keen an interest.

And she’d better act fast, for an all-out war inches ever closer, and New Canaan is never as far away as it seems.

Guest Post – Life in Yellow Locust 

The Yellow Locust covers everything. 

by Justin Joschko

It sprouts each spring from the stalks of its forebears, an ever-thickening carpet of yellow-grey choking any other seedling that dare try and set down roots in its domain. Its growth is ravenous, measured in inches and hours.

In the summer it sways from horizon to horizon, toxic fronds lapping at the glass and concrete of hollow-out cities that rise like islands in a dead sea.

In the fall its pollen coats the world in a bitter fog, turning naked water putrid and raising welts on exposed skin.

In the winter it rests, content that nothing else can grow either.

Those who live among the Yellow Locust do so barely and with great effort. They stake out tiny spaces on rooftops, peel back cracked asphalt for scraps of land still capable of growing food. If the Yellow Locust touches soil, it never leaves again. No crop can outcompete it, and the most determined weeding can never excise all its roots—a thread no bigger than a pinworm can seize an acre in a season’s time. Pulling, ploughing, salting, burning, all efforts fail. One can only isolate and pray. There is little land left to farm in the Middle Wastes, and that little becomes less with every passing year.

The few survivors think of leaving, and sometimes the most intrepid among them actually do, packing up a few malformed potatoes and a skin of water and trudging to a horizon of their choice—the direction scarcely matters; for all anyone in the Wastes knows, the Locust goes on forever.

None who venture out ever return. Those who remain tell themselves that a few of those brave souls found a place where the Locust ends, where yellow gives way to green.

Whether they actually believe it is anyone’s guess.


The grass followed the siblings into town, looming silently along the highway shoulders, lancing up through broken sidewalk slabs, squatting in the cavernous lobbies of derelict skyscrapers. It stalked them all the way to the city center, where a square kilometer of turf and asphalt had been pared away to uncover the silty soil beneath. Stakes with tips painted green, blue, and orange still jutted evenly along the field’s southern edge, though whether the colors signified crop rotation or ownership, Selena couldn’t say. Only one plant grew there now, and she was willing to bet it hadn’t been deliberately planted. The yellow grass devoured every inch of naked soil, creating a neck-high carpet of brittle, oily stalks. We aren’t gonna find any food on offer here, Selena thought, though she kept this opinion to herself—the last thing her brother needed was more bad news.

A fountain stood on a cobbled square beside the field, its ledge chipped and weathered. A bronze woman stood atop its stone platform, her face tarnished and scaly with grime. She held aloft a jug with a broken handle. Water dribbled from its spout. No food, maybe, but water’s more important anyway.

Selena knelt to the water. A caustic stench of grease and bitter herbs rose from the pool. A skein of shimmery oil coated the water, stirred to a rainbow froth where the trickling spout spilled its endless contents. Selena rolled up her pant legs, removed her shoes, and waded into the fountain. The water’s scummy skin clung to her leg hairs. She cupped her hands beneath the dribble.

Even before the water touched her lips, she knew it was bad. The stench of it lapped at her face like a hungry tongue. She sipped anyway, gagged, spat. Running or still, the water was hopelessly befouled. Its taste and smell lingered long enough for her to place it: the smell of the yellow grass, the few times she’d been forced to push her way directly through it. Not content with razing the town’s crops, the vile stuff had also poisoned its water supply. Whatever this shit is, it’s thorough.

About the Author:

Justin Joschko is an author from Niagara Falls, Ontario. His writing has appeared in newspapers and literary journals across Canada. Yellow Locust is his first novel. He currently lives in Ottawa with his wife and two children.

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  1. This is a great genre and the story sounds like a good read.

  2. Intriguing. Could not visit Yellow-Locust Facebook page...says it’s either “broken” or does not exist.

    1. I tried to fix that, but wasn't able too. Apologies for the inconvenience.

  3. I love the cover. Its simplicity is very striking.

  4. Best wishes to the author on his first novel.

  5. I'm glad to see its already marked as book 1 meaning there will be more to come.

  6. Could not visit Yellow-Locust Facebook page. Can the link be fixed or can we not use that entry?

  7. The cover showing a sky color that will probably be quite accurate when the apocalypse comes

  8. This sounds like a great dystopian read.


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