Sorrowland by Rivers Solomon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Cronin’s The Passage meets M. Night Shyamalan’s The Village in this twisty, heart wrenching monster tale that often left me confused to which time period this book was set. It starts with the main character, Vern, on the run, making it sound like she is an escaped slave fleeing from her master and his hounds, add then the brutal solo birth of her twin babies, and this definitely has to be 19th century. Then there are the civil rights references and the cult-like, commune environment of the Blessed Acres, reminiscent of the 1960s and ‘70s, and you start to form another picture in your head, but it’s still hard to reconcile these happenings with the present day. However, even further in the story you realize that this is, in fact, playing out in the 21st century and begins to sink in, the depth and magnitude of the story.
An extreme range of emotions can be felt when turning the pages, from anxiety when Vern leaves the twins, to anger at the treatment Vern receives at the hands of her family back on the compound. The excitement experienced during some of the steamier moments played out are undeniable, and then quickly expunged with the images of pain used to describe Vern’s mysterious and gruesome transformation. Prepare for your imagination to run amok as it conjures images of a Kafka-esque metamorphosis that doesn’t even scratch the surface of the horrors unveiled.
There is so much to unpack with this novel and I think it would take multiple readings to catch everything. While there are some spots that drag a bit and it’s a bit more risqué than I tend to read, the overall storytelling and imagery make this a worthwhile read.
I received an advanced copy of this book from its publisher. The opinions are my own.
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