On a small isolated island, there’s a community that lives by its own rules. Boys grow up knowing they will one day reign inside and outside the home, while girls know they will be married and pregnant within moments of hitting womanhood. But before that time comes, there is an island ritual that offers children an exhilarating reprieve. Every summer they are turned out onto their doorsteps to roam wild: they run, they fight, they sleep on the beach and build camps in trees. They are free. It is at the end of one of these summers, as the first frost laces the ground, that one of the younger girls witnesses something she was never supposed to see. And she returns home, muddy and terrified, clutching in her small hand a truth that could unravel their carefully constructed island world forever.
Ooooh I love a dark and sinister read and ‘Gather the Daughters’ was certainly a dark and sinister read.
We are never told straight out what is going on, the tale is told by the daughters so readers have to garner the clues from what the daughters tell us. By half way through the book it’s pretty clear there are some very dark deeds on the island. And it does make for uncomfortable reading sometimes.
The children of the island cult have been brought up to believe there is nothing worth while beyond the shores. That the rest of the world is Wasteland and holds nothing but a struggle to survive if you’re unlucky enough to live there. Men are the leaders and this book could be looked upon as an illustration of the world we live in. The women of the island are there for breeding and not to have thoughts of their own.
The girls who tell us the tale are all characters I admired. But my favourite character has to be Janey, determined not to end up married and a mother, she survives on little food to stave off her change into womanhood. And when one of the girls witnesses something, it’s Janey that encourages the other girls to think about what they are being told. She knows something is going on and is determined to discover what it is.
Cults fascinate me. The power that one person can have over hundreds of other people. The things that people will believe without question. The things that people will do for that one person leading them. I find them, as I’m sure most people do, very sinister and immoral. ‘Gather the Daughters’ certainly epitomises the sinister element of cult belief.
I couldn’t put this one down, as I’ve already said it is an uncomfortable read and some readers will not like it so consider yourselves warned! This is a compelling, disturbing and intriguing read.
BOOKISH CORNER RATING – 5/5 STARS
Jennie Melamed is a psychiatric nurse practitioner who specializes in working with traumatized children. During her doctoral work at the University of Washington, she investigated anthropological, biological, and cultural aspects of child abuse. Melamed lives in Seattle with her husband and three Shiba Inus.
‘Gather The Daughters’ is out now in hardback published by Tinder Press. With thanks to Emma @HeadlineHighSt for my review copy.
If you enjoy ‘Gather the Daughters’ then you should try these too:
‘The Girls’ by Emma Cline
‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ by Margaret Atwood
‘The Roanoke Girls’ by Amy Engel