Title: Follow Me to Ground
Author: Sue Rainsford
Genre: Literary Fiction/Magical Realism
Number of Pages: 208
Trigger Warnings: Incest, Pedophilia (suggested)
If you like bizarre, hard-to-categorize books with disturbing overtones, this novel is for you! This book. Is. Fucking. Weird. But it’s also beautifully written, rich with detail despite being set in an ambiguous time period. Ada and her dad are not human. They walk among human beings but Ada was grown like a plant by her dad and neither of them get any older.
Their purpose seems to be healing the locals in this grimy, Gothic setting- they open a person’s body up, take out the parts that are making them sick, and bury them underground. Then they dig them up (still alive) and put them back together. Despite their focus on looking after the health of regular people, Ada and her dad don’t seem like particularly altruistic entities.
They’re just there and Ada (despite looking permanently like a young teen) and is banging a young man who lives with his pregnant sister. I don’t think it’s too much of a spoiler to say the guy and his sister are… uh… going full Lannister. Ada’s actions become increasingly sick as she attempts to keep the guy in her life and escape her all-consuming loneliness.
I would almost describe this book as body horror. The descriptions of human anatomy are visceral and stomach-turning, and you can practically feel and smell the patient’s bodies as Ada and her dad dutifully attend to them. Ada is a strange and ambiguous protagonist, and she becomes more and more of a villain as the story progresses. I thought the idea behind this book was really cool and I also thought the author executed it well.
It’s not something to read if you’re looking for likable characters, and it’s not big on character development either. It’s more about creating a feeling that unsettles the reader and lush, descriptive writing that sometimes reads like macabre poetry. It’s not ‘fantasy’ in the traditional sense but it’s on the edge of the fantastic. It also speaks to a sense of otherness and the isolation of living in a world that doesn’t accept or understand you. This is definitely a strong first novel by a writer with promise.