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Vern - seven months pregnant and desperate to escape the strict religious compound where she was raised - flees for the shelter of the woods. There, she gives birth to twins, and plans to raise them far from the influence of the outside world. But even in the forest, Vern is a hunted woman. Forced to fight back against the community that refuses to let her go, she unleashes Vern - seven months pregnant and desperate to escape the strict religious compound where she was raised - flees for the shelter of the woods. There, she gives birth to twins, and plans to raise them far from the influence of the outside world. But even in the forest, Vern is a hunted woman. Forced to fight back against the community that refuses to let her go, she unleashes incredible brutality far beyond what a person should be capable of, her body wracked by inexplicable and uncanny changes. To understand her metamorphosis and to protect her small family, Vern has to face the past, and more troublingly, the future - outside the woods. Finding the truth will mean uncovering the secrets of the compound she fled but also the violent history in America that produced it.


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Vern - seven months pregnant and desperate to escape the strict religious compound where she was raised - flees for the shelter of the woods. There, she gives birth to twins, and plans to raise them far from the influence of the outside world. But even in the forest, Vern is a hunted woman. Forced to fight back against the community that refuses to let her go, she unleashes Vern - seven months pregnant and desperate to escape the strict religious compound where she was raised - flees for the shelter of the woods. There, she gives birth to twins, and plans to raise them far from the influence of the outside world. But even in the forest, Vern is a hunted woman. Forced to fight back against the community that refuses to let her go, she unleashes incredible brutality far beyond what a person should be capable of, her body wracked by inexplicable and uncanny changes. To understand her metamorphosis and to protect her small family, Vern has to face the past, and more troublingly, the future - outside the woods. Finding the truth will mean uncovering the secrets of the compound she fled but also the violent history in America that produced it.

30 review for Sorrowland

  1. 5 out of 5

    Roxane

    Sorrowland, from Rivers Solomon, is a fantastical, fierce reckoning. It is the story of Vern, a young girl fleeing the only life she has ever known, her abusive husband, the cult he leads, to create a life for herself and her babies. But the tentacles of Cainland, the home she left, are always following her as she grows into a young woman and something more, something terrifying and powerful that just might allow her to break free from all that haunts her. Sorrowland is gorgeous and the writing, Sorrowland, from Rivers Solomon, is a fantastical, fierce reckoning. It is the story of Vern, a young girl fleeing the only life she has ever known, her abusive husband, the cult he leads, to create a life for herself and her babies. But the tentacles of Cainland, the home she left, are always following her as she grows into a young woman and something more, something terrifying and powerful that just might allow her to break free from all that haunts her. Sorrowland is gorgeous and the writing, the storytelling, they are magnificent. This country has a dark history of what it’s willing to do to black bodies and Rivers Solomon lays that truth bare in a most unexpected, absolutely brilliant way.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Paromjit

    This is an astoundingly ambitious and harrowing novel from Rivers Solomon, destined to be one of 2021 must reads, a stellar sci-fi fantasy Gothic Horror, although it has to be said in many ways it defies easy categorisation. An alternative world that touches on numerous critical contemporary issues, and the hate, brutality, violence, sorrow and tragedies of American history. Vern is a 15 year old traumatised and abused albino black girl, 7 months pregnant who flees the Cainland cult for the wood This is an astoundingly ambitious and harrowing novel from Rivers Solomon, destined to be one of 2021 must reads, a stellar sci-fi fantasy Gothic Horror, although it has to be said in many ways it defies easy categorisation. An alternative world that touches on numerous critical contemporary issues, and the hate, brutality, violence, sorrow and tragedies of American history. Vern is a 15 year old traumatised and abused albino black girl, 7 months pregnant who flees the Cainland cult for the woods, however, the community have no intention of letting her go. Hunted, the haunted Vern gives birth to twins, Feral and Howling, raised with curiosity at the heart of their unstructured lives. With vitality and rage, this unapologetic, atmospheric, imaginative and lyrical storytelling takes in race, identity, gender, sexuality, misogyny, religion, motherhood, mental health issues, conspiracy theories, the damning state experimentations undertaken on black bodies. Intent on surviving the challenging environment of the wild woods, but burdened by her past and distrust of others, Vern slowly begins to forge connections with others, a highlight of which is her relationship with Native American Gogo and Bridget. There are twists and turns aplenty, there are revelations, the suffering endured, and the surprisingly powerful and transformative changes that start to take place in Vern as she begins to see, fight and take on the cruelty and horrors. This is, without doubt, a disturbing and distressing read, but so ferocious, profound, poignant and moving, providing a pertinent social and political commentary, it feels like a beautifully written book I will never forget and I can see it occupying my thoughts for quite some time to come. I can see it having the same impact on other readers and it deserves to do incredibly well on publication. Hugely recommended. Many thanks to Random House Cornerstone for an ARC.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Peter

    Crossbreed Rivers Solomon is an author who crafts stories about those marginalised, those seeking a voice, and those who experience inequality and intolerance. The writing is poetic and edgy, as Rivers uses a style to add another dimension to a very unique story. I was really enthused from the outset of Sorrowland to embark on a journey into a challenging plot and a unique set of characters. Rivers takes the opportunity to layer her novel with several contemporary messages on black slavery, anti- Crossbreed Rivers Solomon is an author who crafts stories about those marginalised, those seeking a voice, and those who experience inequality and intolerance. The writing is poetic and edgy, as Rivers uses a style to add another dimension to a very unique story. I was really enthused from the outset of Sorrowland to embark on a journey into a challenging plot and a unique set of characters. Rivers takes the opportunity to layer her novel with several contemporary messages on black slavery, anti-US establishment and how powerful people can evade repercussion for criminal and unethical acts. These themes overlay a central plot where a young girl Vern escapes a cult to gain freedom and seek answers. “Sherman preached that Cainland’s untouchability by the law was because of the God of Cain, but Vern was old enough now to know there was no God of Cain. Something else safeguarded the compound. Or someone else.” Vern is fifteen years old living in, Cainland, where she is pregnant and married to the cult leader Reverend Sherman. Her nights are horrifying as she is strapped into bed and fed a concoction of drugs. Vern, however, manages to escape into the woods and ekes out an existence for four years trying to evade any search efforts to find her. The Fiend hunts her and torments her, letting her know she is being watched and hunted. She hears the wolves at night as they flush out the runaways. Vern delivers twins, two boys she names Howling and Feral, and she teaches them about the woods with their exuberant thirst for knowledge. There is endearing respect the boys have for nature and all living things, even if it is to be food. Gradually Vern experiences physical change and we wonder if these are a reaction to the drugs (or now lack of), maybe cancer taking root and spreading, a viral infection, or a metaphysical change. In addition, Vern experiences nightmares and hallucinations she calls ‘Hauntings’. The hauntings feel very real and she struggles to recognise reality from the otherworldly visions and feels these are messages or cries for help. Realising she can’t live like this forever, Vern takes the massive step of leaving the woods and tracking down her best friend Lucy, who left the compound many years before. On Vern’s travels, we discover she is an unlikeable person, brash, selfish, thankless, while also fascinating and resourceful. When she finds Lucy’s home, she discovers Lucy is presumed dead but forms a close relationship with Gogo, a Native American, and Bridget who take her and her children in. As expected, she is eventually hunted down and the scope of the conspiracy starts to unfold. At this point, I’m thinking – take it home Rivers. You’re onto a winner. Unfortunately for me, the wheels came off, and it became confusing, bizarre, convenient in the plotting, irrelevant holes the story jumped into to somehow illustrate some of the issues the author is passionate about and delivered plot lines that seemed impractical and unrealistic. Major WTF moments ruined a beautiful thing. In the first 60 % of the book, I was enthralled with an unparalleled storyline and underlying mystery. The last 40 % totally turned my opinion 180 degrees on what had been a very impressive novel. This was a Buddy read with my Buddy, Ceecee, and after being excited for the first half of the book and excited about our discussions, we both reached a realisation that a major shift had occurred, and the scenes were difficult to enjoy or understand. Please read Ceecee’s review, for her thoughts. Ceecee and I seem to be outliers with this one. I would like to thank Random House, Merky Books, Farrar Straus & Giroux, and NetGalley for providing me with a free copy in return for an honest review.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Farrah

    ⭐ 4 these Rivers run deep Stars ⭐ Sorrowland tells the story of Vern, a pregnant teenager who escapes the cult Cainland. Rather than re-enter society she births and raises her babies in the woods. However Vern soon learns that Cainland's powers are far-reaching and more life altering than she could have imagined. So that's what the book is about in the literal sense. But everything it's saying is in the subtext. And it has a lot to say about a vast number of topics, including race, religion, sexu ⭐ 4 these Rivers run deep Stars ⭐ Sorrowland tells the story of Vern, a pregnant teenager who escapes the cult Cainland. Rather than re-enter society she births and raises her babies in the woods. However Vern soon learns that Cainland's powers are far-reaching and more life altering than she could have imagined. So that's what the book is about in the literal sense. But everything it's saying is in the subtext. And it has a lot to say about a vast number of topics, including race, religion, sexuality, community, growth, love, hate, control..... I struggled in the beginning to find my footing in this strange new world but ended up enjoying the stunning imagery and symbolism. I think it's very difficult to categorize it into one genre as it has elements of so many. One page could be horror but the next could be sci-fi. I guess, like Vern, this book is fierce, unforgiving and does what it wants on its own terms. Amazing cover art designed by Abby Kagan! 𝘈 𝘩𝘶𝘨𝘦 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘯𝘬 𝘺𝘰𝘶 𝘵𝘰 𝘕𝘦𝘵𝘎𝘢𝘭𝘭𝘦𝘺 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘱𝘶𝘣𝘭𝘪𝘴𝘩𝘦𝘳 𝘧𝘰𝘳 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘢𝘥𝘷𝘢𝘯𝘤𝘦 𝘤𝘰𝘱𝘺. 𝘋𝘶𝘦 𝘧𝘰𝘳 𝘳𝘦𝘭𝘦𝘢𝘴𝘦 𝘔𝘢𝘺 4𝘵𝘩.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Charlie Jane Anders

    Sorrowland by Rivers Solomon contains so much wisdom and insight, wrapped in an abundance of passion and fury and tenderness. This is the first book I've read in ages that I'm certain I will come back to again and again, because there are rich gorgeous passages that I already know will mean more to me on subsequent readings. There is so much going on in this book, too: the spectre of what happens when rebellion is co-opted, our longstanding practice of using Black bodies for cruel and unethical Sorrowland by Rivers Solomon contains so much wisdom and insight, wrapped in an abundance of passion and fury and tenderness. This is the first book I've read in ages that I'm certain I will come back to again and again, because there are rich gorgeous passages that I already know will mean more to me on subsequent readings. There is so much going on in this book, too: the spectre of what happens when rebellion is co-opted, our longstanding practice of using Black bodies for cruel and unethical experiments, the audacity of queer love. The arc of this book takes Vern and her babies away from civilization and then back to it — but they return changed, and they change everyone else, and this book restored my faith in our potential to transform just when I needed it most. Sorrowland is an essential read that I expect to see everyone buzzing about this spring/summer, and I'm so grateful I got to read it early.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Hsinju

    Content warnings: animal killings, self harm, childbirth, alcohol abuse, cult, gaslight, pedophilia, blood, death, drowning, rape, attempted forcing of medication, torture, hallucination, brainwash, non-consensual medical experiment, reclaimed d slur, suicide, cannibalism?, voyeurism?, drug abuse, child abuse The craft of fiction at its finest. Sorrowland opens in the woods with the fifteen-year-old Vern—who is Black, albino (the term is used in text), and intersex—giving birth to twins Howling an Content warnings: animal killings, self harm, childbirth, alcohol abuse, cult, gaslight, pedophilia, blood, death, drowning, rape, attempted forcing of medication, torture, hallucination, brainwash, non-consensual medical experiment, reclaimed d slur, suicide, cannibalism?, voyeurism?, drug abuse, child abuse The craft of fiction at its finest. Sorrowland opens in the woods with the fifteen-year-old Vern—who is Black, albino (the term is used in text), and intersex—giving birth to twins Howling and Feral, the latter also has albinism. Vern grew up in the Blessed Acres of Cain, a religious compound that was supposed to be a Black utopia, but she had to escape because everything there seems to be a lie. Over the next several months and years, Vern’s body begins to change. She is both stronger and more vulnerable, and she starts to understand that the power of the past while struggling to raise the twins with the freedom she never had. I used to wish for a book in contemporary settings that references history and beliefs while telling a brand new story deeply influenced by the past. And now I have found it in Sorrowland. The main concept is the cycle of history, with great emphasis on the violence against Black and Indigenous peoples in America. It is disturbing, both in raw descriptions and the recurring horrors of history. Throughout the story, there are countless Biblical references as well as mentions of historical and modern events that pertains to racism. Despite the pain and lingering memories from the past, the theme of rebirth—which the book opens with—creates a hopeful tone. Vern is hungry to live and to be free, like her endless hunger for food. She would do anything to keep her children safe and as innocent as possible. When she meets Bridget and Gogo (Lakota, winkte), they become her found family. All of these characters are beautiful and real and passionate, their drives raw and primal. There were so many visceral sentences that were punches in the gut, thoughts so accurate and candid no one else dared think. A lot of the scenes were allusions to being intersex and/or trans, especially since the intersection of identities being an underlying theme of Sorrowland. We have an intersex lead, an Indigenous transwoman, he/him twins who are really genderless. Through memories from shared history and trauma as well as the hauntings, we also get snippets of stories from other unrelated yet interconnected people from the past. While I did have minor issues with some parts that might be ARC issues (time inconsistency and wording), the overall story is too rich to not love. I definitely need to read a finished copy. Sorrowland is a condensation of history told through weaving fantastical elements. At first, I didn’t understand the ending, thinking it was sudden and didn’t fit the tone. But after thinking through the message of the story and the opening scenes, the ending, for me, made Vern’s and her loved ones’ lives come full circle. The final scene ended exactly where it should, still a reference to the Bible, still a reference to history. It transcends genres and is a mix of sci-fi, fantasy, horror, romance (sapphic), and literary fiction. The dedication line, “To everyone I will ever be, and ever was,” might not make much sense at first glance, actually fits the central plot perfectly. This work of fiction is a must-read, beautiful and haunting. I received a digital review copy from MCD via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Buddy read with E.! Check out her review here!

  7. 5 out of 5

    MZ

    4.5 stars. This book did not let me go, it’s original, dark and emotional and it has some suspense elements. It’s going to be tricky to write a review without spoilers, but here we go. The title is well chosen, since there is so much sorrow and despair. While this is fiction, it still gives some painful insights in how messed up our society can be. Generally, I do not like it when a book is very depressing, but there was also enough light in this book to make this an enjoyable read for me. The s 4.5 stars. This book did not let me go, it’s original, dark and emotional and it has some suspense elements. It’s going to be tricky to write a review without spoilers, but here we go. The title is well chosen, since there is so much sorrow and despair. While this is fiction, it still gives some painful insights in how messed up our society can be. Generally, I do not like it when a book is very depressing, but there was also enough light in this book to make this an enjoyable read for me. The start of the book could be considered realism, but after a while it shifts out of realism. If I have to compare it with something, I would compare it to the feel of a dystopian novel where you know certain things are not realistic, but at the same time parts of it do not feel entirely unrealistic. The main of the book is Vern and she recently ran away from a religious cult. At 15 years old she’s still a girl, but at the time of her escape she’s 7 months pregnant. This already gives enough insight in the cult she was living in. In an effort to remain hidden from the cult, she decides to try to survive in the forest with her twins. However, after a while, strange things are happening to her body and she is forced to leave the forest with her two children that are not adapted to civilized life, or other people for that matter. Vern is a complex character. She’s not the most likeable person, being shaped by her life experiences, but I admired her and cared for her all the same. She’s smart, stubborn, and brave. Especially the part where she lives in the woods illustrates her strength, she has an impaired eye sight, is still very young and has two young children care for, but she does not give up. I loved her two children, they play an important role in the book, you watch them grow and become their own person. It’s not always easy to give kids personality in books, but Solomon did an excellent job. The book has a specific prose that is tailored to Vern and I found that I enjoyed it. The pace is rather slow, especially during the first half of the book, but despite the slow pace the story kept me intrigued the entire time. It is written in 3rd person almost entirely from the POV of Vern (I think about 98%). I believe there were two small instances where the POV changed (if I didn’t miss one). The only comments I have are about the last 20% of the book (which led to a decrease in rating from 5 to 4 stars) and I have to mention that they largely come down to my personal preferences. The ending felt abrupt and several things are left open. This was clearly a deliberate choice of the author, but I would have liked more closure and preferably a small peek into the future. There was also a change in POV very near the end. While this actually gave quite an interesting story on its own, it pulled me out of the main story, which was right in the middle of the final conflict, so I wish it were left out. I’m really bad at giving trigger warnings, so I’m not even going to try for this book, but there is quite a long list, so you may want to check some other reviews for a comprehensive list. This book is not for everybody, but it really got to me and is one that I will not forget. If you’re looking for something dark and moody, just outside the realm of realism, with excellent character building, then I easily recommend this book! I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Elle

    Just got approved for this one woooooo!! Loved The Deep and can’t wait to read this!!!!! *Thanks to Farrar, Straus an Giroux & Netgalley for an advance copy! Just got approved for this one woooooo!! Loved The Deep and can’t wait to read this!!!!! *Thanks to Farrar, Straus an Giroux & Netgalley for an advance copy!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Nina ✿ Looseleaf Reviews ✿

    *I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review* This book is a hard one to review given the enormity of what it achieves. First, I want to express my surprise at the lack of male-gaze in a topic where I would expect it. The author is nonbinary and I can hear that perspective in the writing. The main character, Vern, is a teen mother who was forced into marriage at 15 by a cult her mother joined. It's so easy to fetishize this character, or to reduce her entire identity to motherh *I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review* This book is a hard one to review given the enormity of what it achieves. First, I want to express my surprise at the lack of male-gaze in a topic where I would expect it. The author is nonbinary and I can hear that perspective in the writing. The main character, Vern, is a teen mother who was forced into marriage at 15 by a cult her mother joined. It's so easy to fetishize this character, or to reduce her entire identity to motherhood, but her femininity, sense of self, and sexual discovery are approached with a unique sense of empowerment and reverence. This tackles a lot of characters on the "fringe" of society. Vern is an albino woman from a black family, and an escapee from a cult that rose from a racial movement. Gogo is a Native American who was not raised in their culture, and who is two-spirit in a world that doesn't even know this identity in their language. Howling and Feral are children raised without society's conditioning, precocious in their thirst for knowledge but lacking structure from the world at large. I love that Vern's fight isn't against any single thing, but the mix of all of these. Cainland and its tenants stand for the system in any form, and Vern is a single woman visually and emotionally set apart. The sci-fi, or magical realism - what have you - is unique from anything I've read. I don't want to get too deep into this because it's a story that should be experienced first-hand! If I were to offer any criticism, it would be that this story sometimes felt burdened by what it was saying, to the point that I wasn't fully immersed in Vern's life. I'm excited to read other works by this author because I think a less ambitious story may be more immersive within their writing style.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Shivvani Rao

    1.5 stars. This book was very hard for me to finish. I almost DNF this. Almost. It started out okay and I was kinda interested to find out about all the hauntings, Cainland etc., but the plot was dragged so much that it was so boring to read. I kind of liked Vern’s time in the forest but all the answers for Vern’s condition were given so late into the plot that I wasn’t even thrilled. There was so much filler between the important plot points. I liked the LGBT+ representation and Vern’s view on la 1.5 stars. This book was very hard for me to finish. I almost DNF this. Almost. It started out okay and I was kinda interested to find out about all the hauntings, Cainland etc., but the plot was dragged so much that it was so boring to read. I kind of liked Vern’s time in the forest but all the answers for Vern’s condition were given so late into the plot that I wasn’t even thrilled. There was so much filler between the important plot points. I liked the LGBT+ representation and Vern’s view on labels. I hoped for some good fantasy/sci-fi elements but that was not the author’s focus. It was more about Vern’s journey to self-acceptance. The part I loved the most in the book was Ruthanne’s story. I was bored to tears and her story piqued my interest. When the story picked up at the end, I wasn’t even excited- I was just hasty to finish it. And the end? So the government leaves Vern alone- even after the extent of her power? Total time spent: 9 freaking hours. ~ARC provided by NetGalley for an honest review.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Gabriella

    This book was nothing like what I expected: I was expecting more horror, and while there certainly are horror elements, this book is more of a character-driven social commentary with um, magical realism? Sorrowland is exquisitely written and wonderfully readable, flowing smoothly without ever becoming too jargon-y. Fifteen-year-old Vern escapes Cainland, a former Black-led Black refuge that became corrupted over the years. Taking refuge in the woods, Vern gives birth to twins, Howling and Feral, This book was nothing like what I expected: I was expecting more horror, and while there certainly are horror elements, this book is more of a character-driven social commentary with um, magical realism? Sorrowland is exquisitely written and wonderfully readable, flowing smoothly without ever becoming too jargon-y. Fifteen-year-old Vern escapes Cainland, a former Black-led Black refuge that became corrupted over the years. Taking refuge in the woods, Vern gives birth to twins, Howling and Feral, whose sexes are not revealed and who are raised without prescribed genders. I adored Vern’s inner monologue throughout the novel. Vern’s Blackness, her albinism, her visual impairment, her intersex identity, her attraction to women, and her unexplained bodily changes all are shown to contribute to who she is. She reconciles her past with her present and makes use of the resourcefulness she’d always displayed at Cainland. She’s a hard-edged and flawed due to everything she’s been through, but so easy to root for. As a very young mother raising her children without any help, parenthood understandably becomes overwhelming for her, and her thoughts and actions often reflect this. I can imagine some of these scenes might be hard for parents to read, but I appreciated that they were included because they seemed realistic. Though this is a dark story, it is not without its snippets of light. The twins’ innocence was refreshing and their antics made me smile. Vern also meets some side characters who are kind to her and her kids, which felt to me like a cool drink of water on a hot day. Vern’s journey toward accepting this kindness was so heartwarming to witness, and there are even some moments of sapphic tenderness that made me melt! Solomon expertly weaves past and present into a narrative that is jarring and unique. During her quest for the truth, Vern comes face-to-face with the past: sometimes figuratively, and sometimes quite literally. There are beautiful scenes that turn disturbing and disturbing scenes that turn beautiful. As secrets are revealed, Vern becomes more and more determined to annihilate the forces of evil that forever altered her life path. Oddly enough, I found my interest waning during what was probably supposed to be one of the most dramatic scenes toward the end. The ending did wrap up a bit quickly for my tastes; I would have loved an epilogue or something similar. There’s also a chapter from Howling’s POV that felt random to me. Despite my minor gripes, Sorrowland gripped me and will be one of my standout reads of 2021. content warnings: child abuse, alcohol (recreational), alcoholism, animal killings, blood, gore, body horror, cult, brainwashing, death threats, death, murder, beheading, drugging, guilt, hallucinations(?), homophobia, Stockholm syndrome, child death, manipulation, medical stuff, mind control, teenage pregnancy, childbirth, racism, racial slur, white supremacy, pedophilia, child marriage to an adult, graphic sex, suicidal ideation, suicide, stalking, forced experimentation I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

  12. 4 out of 5

    E.

    This was fucking stunning. Buddy read with Hsinju [Their review] [Rep: Black albino intersex lesbian MC cult survivour, other: Black, Lakota, wlws, winkte] I was putting off writing this review but this masterpiece came out today and I need to finally make some noise. Bear in mind that I will probably write this from scratch again after rereading the book because this quick note is definitely not sufficient. This book, so rich in intertextuality, symbolism, and rawness all enveloped in the most exc This was fucking stunning. Buddy read with Hsinju [Their review] [Rep: Black albino intersex lesbian MC cult survivour, other: Black, Lakota, wlws, winkte] I was putting off writing this review but this masterpiece came out today and I need to finally make some noise. Bear in mind that I will probably write this from scratch again after rereading the book because this quick note is definitely not sufficient. This book, so rich in intertextuality, symbolism, and rawness all enveloped in the most excellent prose, was not only words but a whole experience and made me live and breathe with its complex characters which seemed to be alive beyond just pages. It was ambitious, it sets out to explore many themes, like: - Black pain and exploitation of Black people in the USA, - Black women being pushed down the bottom in both white feminism circles and Black liberation circles, - exploration of abuse -- its many forms & perpetrators, recognising it, healing from it, - separationism vs. suffering through the worse parts of the society/ self-reliance vs. letting people in, - WoC helping WoC, - gender & sexual exploration, - the bond between mother and her children & the unit of family, and many many more that are skipping my mind, probably. And it does explore them wonderfully! Oh, and the f/f content? Magnificent! I promise to come back with more thoughts soon! ;)

  13. 5 out of 5

    ReadBecca

    Sorrowland is the story of Vern, the 15 year old wife of Reverend Sherman, who has spent her whole life in the Blessed Acres of Cain (or Cainland) an isolationist black nationalist compound. Vern is albino, with vision issues that mean she has never learned to read, but she is incredibly smart, having absorbed any knowledge she could from those around her. She is pregnant and determined not to bring new life into the cult, she flees into the forest, but a fiend is in the forest with her making o Sorrowland is the story of Vern, the 15 year old wife of Reverend Sherman, who has spent her whole life in the Blessed Acres of Cain (or Cainland) an isolationist black nationalist compound. Vern is albino, with vision issues that mean she has never learned to read, but she is incredibly smart, having absorbed any knowledge she could from those around her. She is pregnant and determined not to bring new life into the cult, she flees into the forest, but a fiend is in the forest with her making ominous threats, she seems sure the fiend is real and not one of the continued Hauntings she experiences that the Reverend taught were detoxification from the outside world. Vern gives birth to twins in the forest, becoming wrapped up entirely in their care and survival. When she starts losing her own identity to the children, one day she wanders out of the forest to the road and meets a biker woman who she strikes up a relationship with. As time has gone on in the forest, the Hauntings have only worsened, Vern's body is also changing is strange ways that even the children who have never seen another person recognize is unusual. Over the course of excursions out of the forest to meet the woman, Vern begins to realize she can't stay in the forest forever and she needs to know more about the changes she's undergoing, she wants to start by finding her childhood best friend Lucy who escaped the cult. Vern slowly unravels the truth of the Hauntings, the changes in her body, and the secrets of Cainland. This starts very slow and atmospheric, being mostly about a quiet isolated survival in the woods, but completely changes in part 2 and 3, continues escalating in both pace and strangeness. It is a bit hard to accept a 15 year old being able to survive in this way, though the life at the compound meant mostly self reliance, resourcefulness and survivalism, so it comes off at least feasible. Vern does eventually leave the forest, finding her way to people who are helpers and don't care about her unusual situation, there she begins a relationship with a Lakota third gender/two-spirit (winkte) individual, who is also a medic and is able to help her with her body problem. As well, while Vern has been socialized to she/her pronouns, she is clear in the first chapter that she defies gender, interestingly with her twins likewise we have a sort of fluidity in gender. For me this is the most rich in terms of prose of Solomon's work so far, and I can really see the progression of their work here. Looking back to past work, In The Deep, the primary narrative is the collective memory of trauma, this story definitely also draws on that as an element as well. We see this from an individual and generational level, with Vern herself and her mother as the first part is split between current Vern in the forest, and her backstory at Cainland leading up her escape. As we get into parts 2 and 3 we get into the history of trauma of Cainland. As well, beyond the forest the introduction of indigenous characters into her life makes Vern re-think the fact that the ideology of Cainlaind said they were taking back the land they were entitled after slavery, but she is confronted now with whose land is it really they were taking. This is very much focused on the exploitation of black bodies particularly, but through the inclusion of the indigenous characters it extends out to broader people of colour in general beyond just the black experience. This touches around the edges on the reality for them of pipeline protests and chronic diabetes. From a content perspective, there is some severe homophobia and rejection of biracial relationships in Cainland. The book does include a fair amount of violence and gore, but for me I found it to be written in a way that is not lingered on or excessive, it is more vivid. At the beginning the fiend is leaving dead animal bodies, but it doesn't get much more graphic than I've written there, so even though that is something I am personally extremely sensitive to, so because of how it is handled it never bothered me. As her body begins to change there are some elements of self harm as well, however for me this seems more a literal means of showing an outward expression of internal damage and healing, not what you think of when talking about the topic normally regarding mental illness and self harming. It is body horror in the technical sense of actual body changing, but not as much the way it's more commonly used to impart extremely graphic mutilation I think. The only elements that didn't really work for me were an extremely graphic and bizarre sex scene, and the villain just monologuing an explanation of all the plans & unanswered questions in the end (see the trope: Evil Gloating or Evil Plan). Rivers Solomon is just a master of using a seed of real history and then twisting it, so that the real element remains the most harrowing part. Minor Spoiler: If you are wanting some more context to decide on picking this up, what is happening to Vern's Body (but not how or why) is (view spoiler)[that she slowly has what appears to be visible bone along her spine in back first, but eventually grows into a complete exoskeleton. (hide spoiler)] Major Spoiler: The how and why are (view spoiler)[the nod to real history that throughout the past black bodies have been used and abused for medical testing & discovery, numerous real world instances of this are cited through the book. Cainland started with real enough intentions, but has turned into a super secret government facility locating and recruiting/pressing those they've found to be good medical candidates for implanting a fungus to survive in their body. Vern's mother was being threatened with the likely loss of her child, when a social worker offered her the out of going to Cainland. The fungus causes rapid healing, the exoskeleton growth, but also carries a collective memory of all those the fungus previously lived in. (hide spoiler)] I requested and received this book for honest review, thanks to Netgalley, FSG, and the author.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Emmett

    Sorrowland is an exciting, bizarre, and wholly original novel. After reading, you can certainly count me as a Rivers Solomon fan. I can’t wait to go back and read everything they have already published. I can only hope it is all as fascinating and unique as this book! Immediately pulled in by the writing, I loved the worldbuilding and the characters. I enjoyed the mounting complexity as the story developed in gradual revelations. Vern is a compelling protagonist and between Solomon’s prose and th Sorrowland is an exciting, bizarre, and wholly original novel. After reading, you can certainly count me as a Rivers Solomon fan. I can’t wait to go back and read everything they have already published. I can only hope it is all as fascinating and unique as this book! Immediately pulled in by the writing, I loved the worldbuilding and the characters. I enjoyed the mounting complexity as the story developed in gradual revelations. Vern is a compelling protagonist and between Solomon’s prose and the bizarre plot developments, it’s difficult not to feel engaged in her journey. Speaking of plot developments, this novel had one of the best twists (that I did not see coming) that I have probably ever read? Like put down the book and whisper to myself in shock for several minutes kind of plot twist. While I rate this a 4.5, I am going to round down rather than up as it hit a bit of a lull in the middle for me and it almost felt at times like the story was “going too big”, so to speak. That being said, I more than enjoyed the novel as a whole and would recommend it to any fan of the sci-fi genre. *I received a free ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

  15. 4 out of 5

    cyanus

    After reading An Unkindness of Ghosts I knew I wanted to read everything Rivers Solomon ever wrote. I was not disappointed. Thank you to Netgalley for an ARC of this book, it was a privilege to read it. Sorrowland is a challenging and dark story that follows Vern and her life since she ran away from a place that was meant to be her home. It's a truly wonderful read, with many points along the way where you just have to take a few moments to breathe and gather yourself. It's one of those books tha After reading An Unkindness of Ghosts I knew I wanted to read everything Rivers Solomon ever wrote. I was not disappointed. Thank you to Netgalley for an ARC of this book, it was a privilege to read it. Sorrowland is a challenging and dark story that follows Vern and her life since she ran away from a place that was meant to be her home. It's a truly wonderful read, with many points along the way where you just have to take a few moments to breathe and gather yourself. It's one of those books that are hard to describe without spoiling anything, but it's a book with very diverse characters and I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys modern gothic horror. Looking forward to the release of this book and more people reading it, and I'm left even more excited to see any future works from this author. Now I need to go hug my cat real tight, because Sorrowland kept making me want to mother something or someone.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Mocha Girl

    This book was provided by NetGalley for an honest review. Wow - Just Wow! While it's not fair to compare, I was a bit concerned because while I loved An Unkindness of Ghosts, I really wasn't a fan of The Deep - even though it had a great premise and execution. So I was truly hoping this novel would meet or exceed my expectations because my interest was again piqued by the synopsis and my appreciation of the author's writing style and storytelling ability. I wasn't disappointed - Solomon's story ta This book was provided by NetGalley for an honest review. Wow - Just Wow! While it's not fair to compare, I was a bit concerned because while I loved An Unkindness of Ghosts, I really wasn't a fan of The Deep - even though it had a great premise and execution. So I was truly hoping this novel would meet or exceed my expectations because my interest was again piqued by the synopsis and my appreciation of the author's writing style and storytelling ability. I wasn't disappointed - Solomon's story takes us to a world that eerily mimics our own with an eye for its natural beauty and its human shortcomings. This is a fantastical tale rooted in reality borrowing from humanity's shameful past with non-consensual medical experimentation, segregation, and an examination of the influence and abuse of a socio-political-nationalist-religious cult. There are also subtle challenges to conventional thoughts on gender and sexuality; exploring aspects of Native American cultural beliefs surrounding the topics. A personal favorite touch were the homages to Baldwin, Hughes, Le Guin and other literary greats. At its core is a young mother who escapes from a guarded compound into the surrounding forest to birth and raise her children. We witness her struggle with past/generational traumas (her own and others) via recurring hallucinations that are breathtakingly real. She also struggles with an unknown debilitating physical transformation amid a fight for survival from a beast who is both hunting and haunting her. The journey and resolution regarding her quest for answers surrounding the cult, its leaders, her friends, and family was truly a page-turning experience.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Alaina

    I have received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Sorrowland definitely followed the same path as The Deep with me. I was confused on so many things that were happening. I also had endless questions forming in my brain too. Some of the answers that I received at the end left a bittersweet feeling in my mouth. I was honestly really sad about some things towards the last couple of pages.. but it feels good to have answers at the same time. In it, you will meet Vern. Now she i I have received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Sorrowland definitely followed the same path as The Deep with me. I was confused on so many things that were happening. I also had endless questions forming in my brain too. Some of the answers that I received at the end left a bittersweet feeling in my mouth. I was honestly really sad about some things towards the last couple of pages.. but it feels good to have answers at the same time. In it, you will meet Vern. Now she is about 15 years old and about to give birth to some twins - which she later names Howling and Feral. They live in the woods and sort of follow one rule - always listen to Vern. The reason why is because she left this cult for a ton of reasons and is trying her very hardest to keep them all safe and sound. Eventually things get weird and mysterious. Vern starts to see things and I honestly couldn't keep track of what was real or not. Which is probably why I devoured this book so freaking quickly. I had questions and I needed to find some answers pronto. In the end, this book was magical in it's own way. It is definitely something that you will have to sit and digest at times but it was well worth it. So happy that I got the chance to dive into this and look forward to Rivers next book!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Sage Agee

    I LOVE THIS SO MUCH! I’ve been highly anticipating all of Rivers Solomon’s works, and this did not disappoint. I feel like their work is getting darker each book, and the ghostly/horror elements in this made it impossible to put down. The story of 15-year-old Vern and her twin children escaping an abusive cult, as she is developing an illness that causes what seem to be hallucinations. In a way this felt like Lakewood mixed with Mexican Gothic but very much written by Rivers Solomon. I will neve I LOVE THIS SO MUCH! I’ve been highly anticipating all of Rivers Solomon’s works, and this did not disappoint. I feel like their work is getting darker each book, and the ghostly/horror elements in this made it impossible to put down. The story of 15-year-old Vern and her twin children escaping an abusive cult, as she is developing an illness that causes what seem to be hallucinations. In a way this felt like Lakewood mixed with Mexican Gothic but very much written by Rivers Solomon. I will never get over the way they can write themes of gender fluidity, queerness, and the Black experience so effortlessly in a way that feels easy but deeply personal. Thank you to Netgalley & the publisher for the ARC 💖

  19. 4 out of 5

    Caleb

    After hearing so much praise for Solomon's The Deep, I was very excited to get my eyes on their newest novel. The ideas that underpin this story are compelling, and thoughtful, and visceral, and heart-breaking. Unfortunately, this story just didn't have the staying power that I came to expect. The first act of this novel is a model of good story-telling. Solomon perfectly brings the reader into Vern's reality as the character seeks to find identity in the wilderness outside the gates of her form After hearing so much praise for Solomon's The Deep, I was very excited to get my eyes on their newest novel. The ideas that underpin this story are compelling, and thoughtful, and visceral, and heart-breaking. Unfortunately, this story just didn't have the staying power that I came to expect. The first act of this novel is a model of good story-telling. Solomon perfectly brings the reader into Vern's reality as the character seeks to find identity in the wilderness outside the gates of her former whole world. Unfortunately, it was somewhere in the second act where the themes started to dominate the writing. Suddenly, the strong prose gave way to a think piece. Are these thoughts important? Of course. But do these thoughts make a compelling story? Not so much. This issue culminated with an event in the third act that only through hindsight was I able to identify as the climax of this novel. The following denouement was expected in every way and provided little of the genius exposed at the beginning of this book. I will certainly read Solomon again. And for those that enjoyed their previous works, I have no doubt that this will be an enjoyable experience. However, for me, this novel ultimately represents an amazing idea that never came to a satisfying ending. Three stars. ***Note: I received an ARC of this novel from Farrar, Straus and Giroux and Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.***

  20. 4 out of 5

    Gabriele | QueerBookdom

    DRC provided by Farrar, Straus and Giroux via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Representation: Black queer albino protagonist with nystagmus, Black albino secondary character with nystagmus, Black secondary character, Black tertiary characters, Black queer tertiary characters, queer tertiary character, Oglala tertiary character, winkte lesbian Lakota tertiary character. Content Warning: child abuse, violence, cultism, homophobia, transphobia, torture, death, mention of forced sterilisat DRC provided by Farrar, Straus and Giroux via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Representation: Black queer albino protagonist with nystagmus, Black albino secondary character with nystagmus, Black secondary character, Black tertiary characters, Black queer tertiary characters, queer tertiary character, Oglala tertiary character, winkte lesbian Lakota tertiary character. Content Warning: child abuse, violence, cultism, homophobia, transphobia, torture, death, mention of forced sterilisation, racism, misogyny, body horror, gore. Sorrowland by Rivers Solomon is an incredible story about growing, fighting for your family and love in its many forms. After escaping the commune where she lived her whole life, Vern gives birth to twins in the woods Always on high-alert and ready to run to avoid the clutches of the person sent by her commune to bring her back, she raises the children in the woods and it is there she first realises her body is changing. She has developed regenerative powers and a phenomenal strength. A day, a strange rash starts spreading on her skin, weakening her. Scared about what would happen if she is not there to protect her children, she decides it is time to live the woods. The family then begins the long journey towards the only safe haven Vern knows of. I loved this book. I honestly was not expecting it to be this way —mostly because I forget the synopsises after some time and I trust my past-self about the books I add to my to-be-read list, so I avoid reading them again— but I was pleasantly surprised though. I loved everything, from the pace to the writing style, the characters and the plot. As first experiences with authors go, this went extremely well and I cannot wait to dive in another work of faers.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Ygraine

    (thanks to netgalley & merky books for an advance review copy!) sorrowland is the story of vern, her escape from a commune-turned-cult, her motherhood, her restless, righteous hunt for survival, for safety and for answers. it's also the story of state atrocities, overt & covert, of medical experimentation, of the body horror & body euphoria of transformation, of identity & feeling & being beyond the limits of language, of trauma and fury and also, insistently, tenderness. on a conceptual level, i (thanks to netgalley & merky books for an advance review copy!) sorrowland is the story of vern, her escape from a commune-turned-cult, her motherhood, her restless, righteous hunt for survival, for safety and for answers. it's also the story of state atrocities, overt & covert, of medical experimentation, of the body horror & body euphoria of transformation, of identity & feeling & being beyond the limits of language, of trauma and fury and also, insistently, tenderness. on a conceptual level, it's brilliant & sharp-edged & startling & exhilarating; on a prose level, it's both transparent and beautiful, lush & earthy & vivid in details but always clear & always moving. just ! really, really good !

  22. 5 out of 5

    Natalie "Curling up with a Coffee and a Kindle" Rampling

    Mixed feelings for this one, and I feel the book has a rather mixed identity in terms of genre. There are elements of fantasy, literary fiction, family drama, LGBTQ, and even perhaps thriller at times. I listened to the audiobook of this title, and I was fully engaged for the 2 days it took to finish it. The narrator has a lovely, warm voice as she spoke the wonderful descriptions, and I would definitely listen to more of her work. The main character Vern is extremely likeable, and I cheered her o Mixed feelings for this one, and I feel the book has a rather mixed identity in terms of genre. There are elements of fantasy, literary fiction, family drama, LGBTQ, and even perhaps thriller at times. I listened to the audiobook of this title, and I was fully engaged for the 2 days it took to finish it. The narrator has a lovely, warm voice as she spoke the wonderful descriptions, and I would definitely listen to more of her work. The main character Vern is extremely likeable, and I cheered her on throughout, sympathising with the situations she found herself in, and marvelling at the friendships she made. A really enjoyable book, and I look forward to reading more of Solomon's work.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Andreas

    Synopsis: Vern is a pregnant Black teenage woman somewhere in the East of U.S.A. She flees from the repressive religious Cainite sect into the wild where she lives self-sustained from the woods. Her strength and endurance is remarkable, slightly supernatural which she needs to escape a “Fiend” who hunts her. She gives birth to two boys, Howling and Feral, dresses them in animal hides, hiding them in makeshift shelters, hunts and gathers to survive the next winter. Something itches at her back, s Synopsis: Vern is a pregnant Black teenage woman somewhere in the East of U.S.A. She flees from the repressive religious Cainite sect into the wild where she lives self-sustained from the woods. Her strength and endurance is remarkable, slightly supernatural which she needs to escape a “Fiend” who hunts her. She gives birth to two boys, Howling and Feral, dresses them in animal hides, hiding them in makeshift shelters, hunts and gathers to survive the next winter. Something itches at her back, she rubs herself bleedy with a bark but it doesn’t stop. A parasite takes over her back. A stranger was growing inside her. Vern suspects that she was used as a guinea pig back at the Cainites to develop superhero powers. Her metamorphosis just started. Four years later, she decides to track down her best friend Lucy who left the sect years before her. Arriving at her home, she finds out that Lucy is dead. But she stays there, bonding with a Native American Gogo who takes the little family in. But outside forces still want to hunt her down and a surreal pursuit starts. Review: I was eager to read the author’s next book after their mermaid novella The Deep (review). After some initial troubles getting into the novel, an engaging story started with Vern’s survival story. That first half read like a Wild West story given all the religious sect and wood survival. This drove the novel as a page turner, but ended at Gogo’s doors. Relax and recommit to a different story which was astonishing in a different way. But the rest was more of a psychedelic trip opening up every superhero trope one can think of. I mostly enjoyed the story despite or maybe because of Vern’s harsh and fierce character. The kids were cute and added to the fun, but most importantly provided the anchor for the theme of responsibility. Don’t expect a comfort read, it is an intensely angry book yelling at you for attention. Flashbacks to Vern’s past at the Cainites make you suffer with her. If you like to read a prequel of a superhero, a coming-of-age story which isn’t YA at all, then this is worth your time. 3.5 stars, rounded up.

  24. 4 out of 5

    audrey

    Thank you Farrar, Straus and Giroux for providing an eARC of Sorrowland through Netgalley! When I first started this book I was really apprehensive about continuing. I am glad I did, but it was nothing like what I expected, to say the least. The writing was phenomenal, it flowed well and was easy to read, but the content at times got confusing. At one point it changed point-of-views for a couple of chapters with no warning whatsoever, something I was able to catch eventually with context clues. I Thank you Farrar, Straus and Giroux for providing an eARC of Sorrowland through Netgalley! When I first started this book I was really apprehensive about continuing. I am glad I did, but it was nothing like what I expected, to say the least. The writing was phenomenal, it flowed well and was easy to read, but the content at times got confusing. At one point it changed point-of-views for a couple of chapters with no warning whatsoever, something I was able to catch eventually with context clues. It was the only time it ever changed POVs, which really made it stand out as weird. I chose to give this book 3 stars because, while it is wildly different from what I would normally choose to read, I didn’t want to let that take away from a rating. Overall, it was extremely interesting once I got through the oddness of it. It had some great plot twists and character interactions, and I thought the commentary on race relations, sexuality, gender, religion, and life and death were interesting. It is definitely an interesting book about humanity and the dark and light that can come of it.

  25. 5 out of 5

    leo | 飛べ

    There is no synopsis for this book yet, however I’m sure it’s going to be incredible and eye opening

  26. 5 out of 5

    Musings on Living

    "Vern wished to make every moment of her life a rebellion, not just against the Blessed Acres of Cain but the world in all its entirety. Nothing would be spared her resistance." Wow, wow, wow, where to start with this review!! There is so much I would like say about Sorrowland, I would have loved to have read it with a friend because if ever there was a book that should be discussed, debated and read with other bookish buddies, it is this one. The book opens with an albino 15 year old Vern, givi "Vern wished to make every moment of her life a rebellion, not just against the Blessed Acres of Cain but the world in all its entirety. Nothing would be spared her resistance." Wow, wow, wow, where to start with this review!! There is so much I would like say about Sorrowland, I would have loved to have read it with a friend because if ever there was a book that should be discussed, debated and read with other bookish buddies, it is this one. The book opens with an albino 15 year old Vern, giving birth to twins alone in the woods after running away from the Blessed Acres of Cain, the cultist compound she grew up in. Although, she knows someone is after her and her children, she is determined to never return. As Vern makes a life for her family, living free from the influences of others, she starts to notice some unusual changes happening to her body. To understand her metamorphosis, Vern has to uncover the dark history and powers behind the compound she left. The skill in which Rivers Sololmon wrote this book is incredibly remarkable. It's a perfect blend of magical realism and speculative fiction, mixed with some gothic horror and even a beautiful dash of queer smut. All entwined in a deep rooted story that examines America's abuse of power and the systems that help to maintain it. Not only does Solomon cover this dynamic of the corruptible and exploitable nature of power, both institutional and within personal relationships. They have created some of the most amazing multidimensional, diverse and intersectional characters I've read in a while. The way Vern approached motherhood and parenting while bringing them up living the woods, was so enjoyable to read and challenged conventions. Her children, Howling and Feral have unique personalities of their own that radiate off the pages. The character development, brilliant pacing and layered plot all made for an outstanding book. Karen Chilton's audiobook narration is phenomenal and completely immersed me into the story. I highly recommend listening to it but you're anything like me and enjoy making copious highlights, you'll definitely also need a copy of the book. 5 stars Thank you to Random House UK, Cornerstone, Penguin Random House UK Audio and Merky Books for providing me with the e-arc and audiobook to review. Take 1 - Wow, wow, wow!! What can I say except, READ IT! ...collecting my thoughts to write this review!

  27. 5 out of 5

    xTx xTx

    best book i read all year. yes, it's only like 16 days into 2021 but this book has a love-grip hold on me. it's just what i've been wanting to read for some time now. beautifully written. magnetic story with even more magnetic characters. i feel i would give too much away if i went into detail. but if you trust my reviews, trust that you will love this book. i want a part two. i want to thank Rivers Solomon for handing me their heart. best book i read all year. yes, it's only like 16 days into 2021 but this book has a love-grip hold on me. it's just what i've been wanting to read for some time now. beautifully written. magnetic story with even more magnetic characters. i feel i would give too much away if i went into detail. but if you trust my reviews, trust that you will love this book. i want a part two. i want to thank Rivers Solomon for handing me their heart.

  28. 4 out of 5

    fanna

    ↣ an early digital copy received via netgalley

  29. 5 out of 5

    Alyssa Bartoshevich

    I received an advanced reader's copy of this novel via Netgalley.com in exchange for an honest review. Honestly, I will be shocked if this isn't one of the most popular novels in spring/summer 2021, at least within the sci-fi and LGBT lit circles. Sorrowland is at the same time poignant and hopeful, haunting and soothing, submersing the reader into a gothic America scarred by the very real history of our country. There isn't much I can say plot-wise without spoiling this novel. It is best expe I received an advanced reader's copy of this novel via Netgalley.com in exchange for an honest review. Honestly, I will be shocked if this isn't one of the most popular novels in spring/summer 2021, at least within the sci-fi and LGBT lit circles. Sorrowland is at the same time poignant and hopeful, haunting and soothing, submersing the reader into a gothic America scarred by the very real history of our country. There isn't much I can say plot-wise without spoiling this novel. It is best experienced, rather than summarized by a reviewer. The pacing is excellent, allowing the reader to experience Vern's inner (and outer) turmoil without dragging. Characters are both likable and believable. The plot fills itself with twists and turns that are foreshadowed in a subtle manner that doesn't insult the intelligence of the reader. I recommend Sorrowland for any fan of near-future science fiction, modern horror, or wishes to read more novels by Black female authors.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Sahitya

    CW: child abuse, teenage pregnancy, body horror, gore, homophobia and transphobia (challenged) I just saw the wonderful cover of this book and the author, and didn’t even bother with the synopsis before requesting the advance copy. Because gothic horror is not my thing at all and the author’s fierce and unbridled writing makes for an unforgettable but difficult read. The writing is truly gorgeous right from the get go. Despite the difficulty of the subject matter, I was engrossed completely and d CW: child abuse, teenage pregnancy, body horror, gore, homophobia and transphobia (challenged) I just saw the wonderful cover of this book and the author, and didn’t even bother with the synopsis before requesting the advance copy. Because gothic horror is not my thing at all and the author’s fierce and unbridled writing makes for an unforgettable but difficult read. The writing is truly gorgeous right from the get go. Despite the difficulty of the subject matter, I was engrossed completely and didn’t wanna put it down at all. The author perfectly captures the unforgiving atmosphere of the woods as well as the dread that follows Vern in the form of the far reaches of the cult Cainland she is escaping. There are also lots of horrifying and unexpected twists and turns, which kept me on my toes, always wondering what was gonna happen next. But the ending did feel quite different from the rest of the book and I still don’t know how I feel about it. Through Vern’s harrowing struggle for survival with her two little boys, the author explores many themes like identity, motherhood, gender, sexuality, misogyny, race, and what it means to crave connections - either with humans or the nature. At the same time, the author also shows a mirror to the darkest parts of American history, especially how the exploitation and experimentation of Black bodies forms one of the major sources of progress for this country. The writing is very straightforward, giving us unflinching truths through Vern who doesn’t know any pretense and is full of rage and grief. Her kids Feral and Howling literally grow up in the wild without knowing other humans but they are sharp and tough, with lots of love for their mother even if their relationship doesn’t feel very conventional in societal terms. Gogo and Bridget are great side characters, full of compassion and caring, who finally show that there is still some hope left in this cruel world. On the opposite spectrum, we get to see some of the members of Cainland and experience the horrific results when naked ambition for power at the cost of humans meets religious fanaticism and misogynistic entitlement. To conclude, this is not a book for everyone and I’m not even sure to whom I can recommend it. Pick it up if you are ready for stunning atmospheric writing, an unflinching look at history which is also very much relevant to our contemporary times, and a group of characters who may be on the fringes of society, but their capacity for survival and love is boundless.

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