An otherworldly young woman and her father cure townsfolk in this bewitching debut about desire, power, and the body.
Ada and her father have lived outside the village for as long as anyone can remember. The strange pair don't seem to age, and they have extraordinary healing powers that come from The Ground. "The garden is long and mostly grass but back then, close to the house, we kept a patch of moist, fragrant soil," Ada recalls. "This was as much ground as Father had managed to tame, and it was where we put Cures that needed long, deep healing." With a sweep of her hand, Ada puts Cures, or sick people, to sleep and reaches inside their bodies to remove whatever illness lurks there, encouraging the sickness to clot in a bowl or slide down a drain. "This is something Cures don't know about their curing," Ada reveals. "The sickness isn't gone. It just goes elsewhere." When Ada falls for Samson, a handsome villager unafraid of what makes Ada different, Ada's father attempts to protect her. But Ada bristles at Father's accusation that Samson's fascination is dangerous, potentially even draining her healing abilities. Is Samson a worthy suitor, or is his attraction to Ada evidence of a different kind of illness? Will Ada's desire for erotic and personal freedom attract the scrutiny of villagers, putting her and Father in danger? Or—worse—distance her from Father forever? Rainsford pursues these questions with deft lyricism, weaving Ada's story with observations from townsfolk who are, by turns, grateful and wary. Rainsford's fairy and folktale sensibility blends seamlessly with horror as Ada's powers begin to shift in unpredictable ways and take on a darkness all their own. While Rainsford rushes to the novel's ambiguous conclusions, this is nevertheless an astonishing debut heralding the career of an exciting new writer.
Strange, lyrical, and arresting, this novel will draw readers into its extraordinary spell.