In this debut novel set in a post-apocalyptic future, a young woman struggles to uncover the truth about her heritage.
A woman named Root remembers how she always felt different from the other people in her village. She was the blind daughter of a “weaver”—a revered village herbalist and wise woman—and she had a penchant for asking unwanted questions. According to village beliefs, to break from tradition and attempt to “remake the World That Is” would have devastating results. Many suspect that Root had a strange illness known as “the Nothing” within her—a condition that could eventually cause a person to transform into a savage, bestial “chimera.” To prevent this transformation, those thought to suffer from the Nothing were given a sedative drink and then burned alive in the Goodafter Pit. Root was 17 when she started hearing a voice in her head and soon gained extraordinary abilities. Her resulting flight set her on a path to discovering the true origins of the World That Is, which centers on a cataclysmic event known as the Reckoning. Crafty surprises abound in this debut novel as Giesler’s story switches between Root’s narration of the story of her life, framed as a presentation to a gathering of listeners, and the journal of her ancestor Ruth Troyer, who was alive during the initial days of the Reckoning. Giesler does an excellent job of connecting Root’s modern perspective and Ruth’s past knowledge to the rustic setting of the reconstructed civilization. The author also pays close attention to the development of language, religion, and cultural ceremonies across the centuries, resulting in some phenomenal worldbuilding. Root is a feisty, compelling narrator, and although some of her folksy asides are occasionally awkward, her monologue is full of appealing personality.
An often mesmerizing end-of-the-world adventure.