by Anna North
🤠🤠🤠🤠 (Four stars as rated in emojis wearing cowboy hats)
I was given an Advanced Reader Copy of this book through NetGalley via the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Holy smokes. I feel both satisfied and completely heartbroken by this book. What an emotionally turbulent journey I just went on!
For this story, we venture into the alternate timeline of the North American West, in which women are accused of witchcraft for being barren and, sometimes even for the barrenness of others. When Ada Magnussen is accused of such by her meddling in-laws and spineless neighbors after her own failure to conceive, she flees for fear of her life, ultimately joining up with a band of similar outcasts, led by an infamous, beguiling and gender neutral outlaw known merely as The Kid. This book has so much of what I’m looking for in a story, adventure or otherwise; The plot is engaging, the characters are well rounded and, what’s that? Did you say realistic representation of marginalized communities!?!?! And served on a bed of prose that is just beyond devour-able. Be still my beating heart. I am genuinely enamored with how much was pulled off (and pulled off well, no less) within this singular volume. That being said, my one complaint for the story is that the relative absence of Native Americans (save for one brief and otherwise forgettable encounter with an Indigenous trader) is a glaring and unfortunate oversight. Especially since veins of the plot are flagrant perpetuations of Manifest Destiny and of the idea that North America was virgin before colonization. Oof. I didn’t care for that. At all. Especially since the story is otherwise so genuinely inclusive without ever feeling tokenizing or compromised by the need to appeal to less “progressive” audiences. I would still give the thing a wholehearted four stars, though. And I will probably be replaying this book on a loop in my brain for the next six months. Yee-haw!!
Content warnings for this book: homophobia, racism, genital mutilation, death of a child, death of a friend, death of a partner, death of a spouse, general violence, starvation, mental illness, bombings, time in prison, wrongful accusations, disowning, drug use, eugenics, hate crimes, delusions, trauma, gun violence
I was really stoked to get my hands on this book. What are you hoping to finish by the end of the year?