What an experience! This debut novel pulses between succulent and sickening. It drops you into the life of a very unusual girl and her father, who use their surreal gifts to cure local humans. All is as it should be, until Ada takes a lover and their tranquil existence starts going wrong. In this Follow Me to Ground book review you’ll find three reasons why Sue Rainsford’s magic realism story is such a great read.
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Rich Writing Style
The prose is strange and robust. Most of the narrative comes through the eyes of Ada, who’s not human and sees the world very differently. Nature. People. Words. Viscera. The descriptions take on a slight experimental form, but not so much that you miss the point entirely. Rainsford shines a unique light on our world, inside and out. Follow Me to Ground nudges you to look at familiar themes very differently.
This is the beauty of magic realism. The most bizarre narratives can deliver powerful messages. Rainford’s debut is not the strangest you’ll find out there, but it’ll definitely grab your attention. Ada and her father are at the heart of the story’s fantastical features, from their surgical craft and physical nature to the mysterious Ground they watch over.
And yet these supernatural beings aren’t represented as sick. They’re as normal as the humans they heal. In fact, questions of normality aren’t that important in this story. It’s the concept of illness and its causes that take centre stage. They influence the vivid imagery and characterisation of Follow Me to Ground, inspiring this book review the most.
Themes of Agency
But there’s even more to enjoy in Ada’s character. Firstly, a fact you quickly discover is that she doesn’t age. Imagine decades of sheltered experience contained in an unchanging girl’s body. And you get to see exactly how her mind works around her father, lover, patients and other stimuli.
Her decisions veer from strange to very questionable, but there is reasoning behind it all. What influences these choices is interesting to think about. And so is whether a “normal” human being would act differently in the same circumstances.
A powerful debut that’s not easy to describe in a single little book review. But something Follow Me to Ground will certainly do is entertain fans of dark magic realism. Rainsford’s storytelling slithers into your conscience and makes you engage with uncomfortable yet throught-provoking concepts.
Here’s another fantastic debut novel you should read: The Bone Garden. Book Breath’s review will tell you all about it.