Follow Me to Ground by Sue Rainsford was the sixth book I read in 2021, and it is the first book I’d put on my “disappointing” list for the end of the year.
Content Warning: Pedophilia, Incest, Spoilers
The only reason I picked this book up is because it was the January 2020 book for the Fantastic Stranglings Book Club, the inaugural book, and I missed it because I joined the book club too late. (I think I was still trying to figure out my budget then.) I joined up in February with American Sherlock, and loved it so much that I kept on with the club.
I think if I’d gotten Follow Me to Ground as my first book, I would have cancelled my subscription and missed out on many of the other great books that I received from them this year.
This book was an incredible disappointment to me. The description made it sound amazing, and so many people have given it high reviews, calling it “creepy” and “fantastic” and “haunting,” and the cover looked gorgeous so I thought I’d grab it to “complete” my 2020 Fantastic Stranglings collection. I’ve read several creepy books for the club this year, and thought this one would be a great addition. Plus, the cover is gorgeous!
The book itself is very short, just over 200 pages. It deals with Ada and her Father, who are Healers (in a sense), but who are also not human. They refer to the people they heal as “Cures,” and the way they cure people is either by putting them to sleep and then opening them up and rummaging around inside of them, or, if they’re too far gone, by burying them in “The Ground” for a few days until The Ground heals them. The Ground is also where Ada and her Father come from – there are patches all across the world, and while Ada came from this particular patch, her Father did not. Oh, and they don’t actually “cure” people – they just send the sickness away elsewhere (sometimes they’ll find a blood clot in their kitchen, for example), and sometimes the sicknesses are too big to send away and they have to tell the people they’re dying.
Ada looks like a young girl, and she starts an affair with a man named Samson, who says he’s sick, and whose sister says he’s sick, and it took me a little longer than it should have to realize that this “sickness” they’re referring to is pedophilia, because Ada looks like she’s 12 (even though she is much, much older) and Samson is a grown man. They talk about how Ada has to “create” a hole in her so she can “take Samson in,” and it thoroughly disgusted me. I could skim those parts, at least, and I did, hoping that the book would get better.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t. While Ada’s chapters are the main focus of the book, at the end of each of her chapters is a small interlude with one of the Cures, talking about how she and her father have disappeared and how they miss having their healers around, because “normal” doctors can’t do anything quite as well as the healers could. These were the only parts of the book I enjoyed.
The “big reveal” at the end is that Olivia, Samson’s pregnant widowed sister, is actually pregnant with Samson’s child, because she got pregnant long after her husband died and the kid’s eyes don’t match her husband’s eyes. Olivia is dead by the time we get this reveal, as it’s her kid who comes to Ada to ask her about his father, since Olivia told him Ada would tell him the truth. Ada does not. She instead ignores her visitor to watch Samson, who she buried in The Ground decades ago, rise again. (Oh, and she also murdered her father when he found out that she’d done that. But that’s all kind of glossed over, and once her father is dead, Ada stops healing, even though she continues to live in the house.) It’s all a big jumbled mess, and while I can see that the prose itself is relatively decent, the plotline itself is drab and too mixed up to make much sense out of it at all.
It calls itself a “dark fairy tale,” and that’s what I was expecting. I wanted so much more out of this book than I got, and ended up disappointed because I believed the hype on the cover. I’d give this a 1/5 stars for me personally, but there may be people who enjoy this type of book. It’s absolutely not for me, and now I’m stuck with an expensive yet beautiful book on my shelf that I don’t even want to look at again.
Have you read a disappointing book in 2021 yet? Have you read Follow Me To Ground? Let me know in the comments!
And as always, keep reading.