Summary and book reviews of Follow Me to Ground by Sue Rainsford

Follow Me to Ground

by Sue Rainsford

Follow Me to Ground by Sue Rainsford X
Follow Me to Ground by Sue Rainsford
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Jan 2020, 208 pages
    Paperback:
    Jan 2021, 208 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Dean Muscat
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About this Book

Book Summary

A haunted, surreal debut novel about an otherworldly young woman, her father, and her lover that culminates in a shocking moment of betrayal - one that upends our understanding of power, predation, and agency.

Ada and her father, touched by the power to heal illness, live on the edge of a village where they help sick locals—or "Cures"—by cracking open their damaged bodies or temporarily burying them in the reviving, dangerous Ground nearby. Ada, a being both more and less than human, is mostly uninterested in the Cures, until she meets a man named Samson. When they strike up an affair, to the displeasure of her father and Samson's widowed, pregnant sister, Ada is torn between her old way of life and new possibilities with her lover—and eventually comes to a decision that will forever change Samson, the town, and the Ground itself.

Follow Me to Ground is fascinating and frightening, urgent and propulsive. In Ada, award-winning author Sue Rainsford has created an utterly bewitching heroine, one who challenges conventional ideas of womanhood and the secrets of the body. Slim but authoritative, Follow Me to Ground lingers long after its final page, pulling the reader into a dream between fairy tale and nightmare, desire and delusion, folktale and warning.

Henry Law

It was easy to forget they're not like us.

You could be looking at Miss Ada and talking to her simply, and then she'd say something like

Take into account the evenings are getting long, Mr. Law.

Her father too. We'd be talking easily enough and then all of a sudden I'd remember he knew my pop and all my uncles from the day they were born till the day they died.

I suppose it was easy to forget because they made it easy. They had to, to get by.

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
  1. In the beginning of Follow Me to Ground, Rainsford sets out the rules of this magical universe: Cures, the Ground, the process of healing the townspeople. How do you understand the dimensions of Ada and her father's work?
  2. The novel is interspersed with chapters from the point of view of the townspeople. What purpose do these passages serve?
  3. How does Ada's relationship with Samson begin?
  4. When Olivia comes in to be cured, does she reveal anything to Ada?
  5. How did Ada come to be? She believes that she "hadn't gone quite to plan" (page 56). What does this mean?
  6. Ada's father believes that it's Samson's "sickness that makes [him] want [her]" (page 81). What do you think Samson's "sickness" is?
  7. How does Ada come to a decision about her ...
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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

At its core, Follow Me To Ground is a story about a daughter on the cusp of womanhood carving a life for herself away from her well-meaning if overbearing father. This could have so easily been just another fantastically-tinged tale of a girl seeking and attaining her own agency. Thankfully, it's much stranger than that, and all the more powerful for it— a haunting, intoxicating debut that establishes its author as one to watch in the future...continued

Full Review Members Only (680 words).

(Reviewed by Dean Muscat).

Media Reviews

New York Times
Ada is a kind of golem, created by her father out of a tree branch, and her childlike voice tends toward quick, superficial narration. But when the book slips into horror at the end, it becomes legitimately frightening...if a story is to be this fast-paced, it ought to be more explicit about its intentions; all the subconscious, blink-and-you’ll-miss-them allegories give the feel of a maddening puzzle...the book itself seems buried in the ground.

BookPage
Sue Rainsford’s fresh and exciting first novel, Follow Me to Ground, reads like a dark fairy tale...a pleasure to read. Seeing the world from Ada’s perspective is intoxicating, and as she grows in her power, we feel lucky to be taken along for the ride. With language that’s visceral and jarringly beautiful, Rainsford has created a mysterious world that left me wanting to hear more tales of the strange healers and their trusting Cures.

Shelf Awareness
In this serenely haunting tale, told in prose at once lyrical and unsettling, a lonely inhuman girl running a magical curing business with her father searches for a way to come alive...Visceral in its descriptions and carried by a spellbinding first-person narrative intertwined with lore from fearful Cures, this unworldly story is a well-crafted and eerie exploration of desire... beautifully intoxicating.

The Guardian (UK)
Like all the best horror, it's an impressive balancing act between judicious withholding and unnerving reveals: you don't want to go into it knowing too much...Always singularly and entirely itself.

The Sunday Times (UK)
Beautiful and terrifying.

Booklist
Haunting ... With an evocative novel bending fantasy into a universe of subtle horror and bodies cracking open to be healed, Rainsford pulls the reader into a frightening, tangible world of monstrosity, humanity, and healing.

Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Brimming with dark folklore and underworld energy...This is a subtle, unsettling novel in which desire is an ineradicable sickness that can be preferable to health.

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
An astonishing debut heralding the career of an exciting new writer. Strange, lyrical, and arresting, this novel will draw readers into its extraordinary spell.

Library Journal (starred review)
In this exhilaratingly original work, lyrical prose gives voice to the strange and alluring Ada, whose spellbinding account alternates with the Cures’ testimonials. Seductive and finally horrific; highly recommended.

Author Blurb Téa Obreht, author of The Tiger's Wife and Inland
Sue Rainsford's Follow Me to Ground is a triumph of imagination and myth-bending—a weird, tender, haunted and deeply affecting spectacle, equal parts beauty and horror, and unlike anything you will read this year.

Author Blurb Megan Mayhew Bergman, author of Birds of a Lesser Paradise and Almost Famous Women
Sue Rainsford has written a gorgeous and unsettling novel. Follow Me To Ground is a fresh and primal exploration of bodies and healing, of the fight between one's calling and most ardent desires. A stunningly original debut.

Reader Reviews

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Beyond the Book

Mythical Healers

World Health Organization logo with staff and snakeThe central characters in Follow Me to Ground are two human-like beings with mystical powers to heal all illnesses and even resurrect the dead. It seems we have forever been fascinated by the magic of healing and the ability to cheat our own mortality. Ancient mythologies from across the globe featured powerful healers that humans turned to in search of cures and remedies for all kinds of sicknesses.

One of the most widespread symbols of the medical world today is derived from the Greek myth of Asclepius, the god of medicine who brandished a serpent-draped staff—the image of which can be seen in medical and pharmaceutical logos across the globe, including that of the World Health Organization. As a child, Asclepius was rescued by ...

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