An unusually evocative and intriguing debut novel from the Irish writer and art critic Sue Rainsford.
Five Books review
Ada and her father are healers: age-old and yet human in appearance, they live on the edge of a village and treat its residents (‘Cures’) for various ailments and illnesses by opening their bodies, handling their innards and occasionally burying them alive in a patch of powerful earth (‘The Ground’) in their garden.
It is a bewitching fable, whose unspecified modern setting (which has cars and electricity) brushes disconcertingly against timeless myth and superstition.
When Ada falls for a disturbed local man, and attempts to transform him from human into her own kind, all hell breaks loose.
Combining elements of magical realism, surrealism and body horror, this is a concise, elegant, haunting story that dragged me under.
Refreshingly, the novel disregards the predilections of contemporary literary fiction and instead veers toward allegory. No one in this book is Forsterishly “round”; characters lack agency; they are created or possessed or curiously always themselves.