“I even tried to bury myself alive but the dirt recoiled you have already rotted it said there is nothing left for me to do.” — Rupi Kaur

Some books settle upon the mind, like a fine dust or gritty gravel, causing readers to consider the story long after they’ve turned the final page. These stories that stick in the mind often stay with us because an element horrifies or captivates. This is true of our next read, which takes readers to a house at the edge of a farming village, occupied by a pair of magical healers.

Follow Me to Ground by Sue Rainsford

Sue Rainsford’s debut novel is an unexpectedly dark bit of folklore. Gritty like the earth she came from, Ada finds herself wanting more from her lengthy life as a healer. Ada and her father are unlike the rest of the people in the village, as she and her father are not quite human and were born in The Ground. They stay and tend to the magical patch of earth where they use The Ground to heal the humans, by burying them. After years and years of pulling illnesses from people’s bodies, Ada becomes restless and finds a new distraction in her affair with Samson. Unfortunately, there’s something wrong with Samson, something deeply rooted in him that Ada can’t heal. Her father wants her to stay away from him and Samson’s odd sister also wants to keep them apart.

Rainsford draws readers into her arresting and disconcerting tale, her words taking root in the reader’s mind as it falls into the Venus Flytrap of a story. Her lyrical writing incites the hairs on the back of the neck to rise as she explores Ada’s isolation and yearning for connection against a noxious relationship. “Follow Me to Ground” is a haunting and puzzling story that is distinctly unafraid to poke about the horror that can exist within an individual. At first the book can feel jarring, but after a few pages readers will quickly fall entranced by Rainsford’s earthy tale.

From the book jacket…

Ada and her father, touched by the power to heal illness, live on the edge of a village where they help sick locals—or “Cures”—by cracking open their damaged bodies or temporarily burying them in the reviving, dangerous Ground nearby. Ada, a being both more and less than human, is mostly uninterested in the Cures, until she meets a man named Samson. When they strike up an affair, to the displeasure of her father and Samson’s widowed, pregnant sister, Ada is torn between her old way of life and new possibilities with her lover—and eventually comes to a decision that will forever change Samson, the town, and the Ground itself.

If you enjoy…

For readers looking for more of a folksy fairytale, give Helen Oyeyemi’s “Gingerbread” a try. The novel follows the story of Harriet and Perdita Lee, a mother and daughter that can’t quite seem to connect, whose lives are tied to fairytales and gingerbread.