Chelsea Mancilla, Guest Writer
The short novel titled, “Follow Me to Ground” by Sue Rainsford, was originally published in Dublin. In January 2020, it was published in the United States. This book reminds me of Flannery O’Connor because of the eerie ambience from the text. The author introduces Ada and her strong distaste for slugs. The tone of the book is akin to a classic fairytale and a modern horror story. The text itself can be graphic in a medical sense. Rainsford creates a mysterious world and demonstrates how our innermost urges can take a dark turn.
Main characters, Ada and her father, are not human; the locals accept them as necessary oddities. For generations, Ada’s father has healed the townspeople. Ada was her father’s apprentice for as long as she can remember, as she is unique for many reasons, one of which is her abnormal creation.
Ada was not born normally. Her father had to make her from what they call, “the Ground.” Ada discovers that there were many failed attempts before she was made, but she could not help wondering if her father was still disappointed with the result.
In addition, Ada has had the same appearance for most of her life. Although she may have the body of a young girl, she continues to mentally mature. She is determined to become an independent individual, and begins a relationship with a human called Samson.
Samson’s widowed sister and Ada’s father greatly disapprove of the arrangement. Despite her father’s warnings that Samson is filled with a “sickness,” Ada believes that she has the power to heal him and that she must protect him from his sister, Olivia.
The townspeople know little else about Ada and her father. Throughout the novel there are short chapters from the townspeople’s points of view.
One of these perspectives shares, “We’d be talking easily enough and then all of a sudden I’d remember he knew my pop and all my uncles from the day they were born till the day they died. I suppose it was easy to forget because they made it easy. They had to, to get by.”
Although there are myths that surround Ada and her father, the townspeople often go to them for healing services.
I wonder if Rainsford was influenced by religion, just as O’Connor would have been. Many other book reviews praised Rainsford’s work, including The Guardian’s deputy literary editor, Justine Jordan, who wrote, “This seethingly assured Irish debut infuses magic realism with critical and feminist theory, but the generous dose of horror movie imagery brings a left-field project firmly into the literary mainstream.”
While this book may be above my critical thinking skill, I know a good book from a bad one. If you enjoy novels with a coming-of-age theme with intriguing and fantastical twists and turns, then this is the book for you. This book will challenge you as a reader to think critically, but it is a short story that you can finish in a day. This should be the next book on your reading list. Happy reading!