Tuesday 11 February 2014


I had such high hopes for this book, the premise seemed so interesting. A girl, who has been raised away from the world. A girl who can only understand the outside world via the texts she has been given while secluded away in 'The Garden'. A girl who has her life turned upside down and who is confronted by the real world and has to learn to live in it. I thought that sounded right up my street. Not to mention that it really is a lovely looking book, and it is SO much easier to feel fondly disposed towards a beautiful book.
Sadly this didn't really manage to distract from my disappointment when reading this novel. I don't know if it was due to me having other things to be getting on with over the weekend, but this simply failed to grab me at all. I had none of my usual desire to come back to this. In fact I had to force myself to return. This wasn't due to a poor story; the story was genuinely pretty damn good. A highly original and interesting story about an all female community St. Emily's where the 'orphans' are raised totally apart from the outside world. In fact they are told very little about the outside world, apart from how dangerous it is with 'demonmales' and 'injuns' waiting to attack and burn them up. The reasons behind some of the philosophy were shared gradually over the course of the novel, with the death of 'Emily' leading to 'Mother' founding the order with a group of kidnapped 'daughters; each one named after the location of her capture. These children are treated very harshly, with beatings and confinement being regular punishments for curiosity about the outside world. However what is never made clear is what the nature of the 'war' is to be. Each girl is being raised as a weapon, (all very Great Expectations you might think), and each girl is prepared to leave 'The Garden' wearing a Burka. In fact each girl is trained to make their way through airports, as well as being trained to kill 'demonmales' and to take 'medicine' (presumably suicide pills?) However some sections where the girls' futures are discussed seem to suggest more that they are to be sold off as sex slaves rather than as some kind of feminist army for the Goddess. It all gets rather confusing, and I would have loved it if there had been a bit more clarity here. The main reason for the vague plot here is due to Calamity Leek's role as narrator. Obviously as a brainwashed 'sister' she is unreliable, but her views of everything cloud everything so badly that what could be a fascinating fantasy/crime/drama just starts to become a confusing chore.
I may not have been in the right frame of mind to appreciate this novel, and if I do get a chance to then I may well come back to it in the future; but for now this one really wasn't for me.

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