Strange, lyrical, and arresting, this novel will draw readers into its extraordinary spell.



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.

Pub Date: Jan. 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3363-4

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Oct. 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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A modern day fable, with modern implications in a deceiving simplicity, by the author of Dickens. Dali and Others (Reynal & Hitchcock, p. 138), whose critical brilliance is well adapted to this type of satire. This tells of the revolt on a farm, against humans, when the pigs take over the intellectual superiority, training the horses, cows, sheep, etc., into acknowledging their greatness. The first hints come with the reading out of a pig who instigated the building of a windmill, so that the electric power would be theirs, the idea taken over by Napoleon who becomes topman with no maybes about it. Napoleon trains the young puppies to be his guards, dickers with humans, gradually instigates a reign of terror, and breaks the final commandment against any animal walking on two legs. The old faithful followers find themselves no better off for food and work than they were when man ruled them, learn their final disgrace when they see Napoleon and Squealer carousing with their enemies... A basic statement of the evils of dictatorship in that it not only corrupts the leaders, but deadens the intelligence and awareness of those led so that tyranny is inevitable. Mr. Orwell's animals exist in their own right, with a narrative as individual as it is apt in political parody.

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 1946

ISBN: 0452277507

Page Count: 114

Publisher: Harcourt, Brace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1946

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With her second novel, Ng further proves she’s a sensitive, insightful writer with a striking ability to illuminate life in...

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This incandescent portrait of suburbia and family, creativity, and consumerism burns bright.

It’s not for nothing that Ng (Everything I Never Told You, 2014) begins her second novel, about the events leading to the burning of the home of an outwardly perfect-seeming family in Shaker Heights, Ohio, circa 1997, with two epigraphs about the planned community itself—attesting to its ability to provide its residents with “protection forever against…unwelcome change” and “a rather happy life” in Utopia. But unwelcome change is precisely what disrupts the Richardson family’s rather happy life, when Mia, a charismatic, somewhat mysterious artist, and her smart, shy 15-year-old daughter, Pearl, move to town and become tenants in a rental house Mrs. Richardson inherited from her parents. Mia and Pearl live a markedly different life from the Richardsons, an affluent couple and their four high school–age children—making art instead of money (apart from what little they need to get by); rooted in each other rather than a particular place (packing up what fits in their battered VW and moving on when “the bug” hits); and assembling a hodgepodge home from creatively repurposed, scavenged castoffs and love rather than gathering around them the symbols of a successful life in the American suburbs (a big house, a large family, gleaming appliances, chic clothes, many cars). What really sets Mia and Pearl apart and sets in motion the events leading to the “little fires everywhere” that will consume the Richardsons’ secure, stable world, however, is the way they hew to their own rules. In a place like Shaker Heights, a town built on plans and rules, and for a family like the Richardsons, who have structured their lives according to them, disdain for conformity acts as an accelerant, setting fire to the dormant sparks within them. The ultimate effect is cataclysmic. As in Everything I Never Told You, Ng conjures a sense of place and displacement and shows a remarkable ability to see—and reveal—a story from different perspectives. The characters she creates here are wonderfully appealing, and watching their paths connect—like little trails of flame leading inexorably toward one another to create a big inferno—is mesmerizing, casting into new light ideas about creativity and consumerism, parenthood and privilege.

With her second novel, Ng further proves she’s a sensitive, insightful writer with a striking ability to illuminate life in America.

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7352-2429-2

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: June 20, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2017

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