What a twisted nightmare. A fairy tale you'd never want to meet.
Warnings: Very graphic in the medical sense
I almost hesitated to rate this the full 5 stars because it's such a twisted speculative novella, but at the same time I think it's one of the most singular things I've ever read, so sue me. I loved it.
Follow Me to Ground is witchy, spooky, medically graphic, and disturbing. It follows the life of two non-humans, a father and a daughter, who live in a fairy tale-type scenario where they are the mystical healers that the town goes to when they're desperate. Ada and her father bury people in The Ground behind their cottage and heal their insides by scooping out the illness (literally).
Ada and her father aren't human, and they don't pretend to be.
Enter Samson, a local boy/man who captures Ada's ageless young girl/woman attention. (The hyphens are because the ages in this story are described in both ways...it highlights the overall fluidity of this story.) Samson and Ada begin an affair.
What started out off-kilter and uncomfortable gets even more so when Ada and Samson's love affair begins to fracture at the edges, and all is not what it seems. Is Samson a good man? What's up with his pregnant sister, who lives with him alone? What will Ada do when confronted with Samson's attentions vs. her nonhuman ties to The Ground?
Written with a one-of-a-kind narration and crackling tension-filled sentences, this is the kind of story that stays with you. If you liked Wilder Girls for its unflinching acceptance of body horror and its lack of explanations, you'll like this. If you liked Seanan McGuire's short stories on fairy tales best left alone, you'll love this.
I don't know what it says about me that I appreciated this story, but damn this was weird and awesome.
Thank you to Scribner for an ARC of this title in exchange for an honest review.