Sorrorwland is an unapologetically disturbing book that’s beautifully written, that follows a complex storyline.
Vern - seven months pregnant and desperate to escape the strict religious compound where she was raised - flees for the shelter of the woods. There, she gives birth to twins, and plans to raise them far from the influence of the outside world.
But even in the forest, Vern is a hunted woman. Forced to fight back against the community that refuses to let her go, she unleashes incredible brutality far beyond what a person should be capable of, her body wracked by inexplicable and uncanny changes.
To understand her metamorphosis and to protect her small family, Vern has to face the past, and more troublingly, the future - outside the woods. Finding the truth will mean uncovering the secrets of the compound she fled but also the violent history in America that produced it.
I received an ARC copy from Netgalley!
This was just… Woah. I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around this one. There are so many thoughts. This was a wild ride, I’m definitely glad I read this though.
I’ll start and say that this will not be a book for everyone. Sorrorwland is an unapologetically disturbing book that’s beautifully written, that follows a complex storyline. However, it has no clear answers until the end of the book. The summary while it seems descriptive is actually very broad in terms of the full events that occur within these pages.
Sorrorwland is an unapologetically disturbing book that’s beautifully written, that follows a complex storyline. However, it has no clear answers until the end of the book.
Sorrowland takes social and political issues primarily regarding race and showcases it in a fictional manner that, while being fictional, isn’t completely far-fetched. The premise follows 15 years old, Vern who escapes an extremely strict religious compound. This compound is solely for the black race, those of African descent mainly, and they worship an African-based religion as they deemed the main US religion as the “White Devil.” This community follows strict rules and takes part in very odd and immoral practices. However, after escaping the compound Vern discovers dark secrets behind the creation of this community.
Along with the issues highlighted with the compound, this book touches on so much more. From sexuality to gender identity to motherhood. Sorrowland is a defiant story showcasing all of these in their rawest state.
Since all I knew about it was the summary, I had no idea what to expect. I made sure to pay attention to all the little details, especially at the beginning as I had no idea what was going on. We start with our main character, Vern in the forest giving birth. So I immediately was thrown, wondering why did she feel the need to leave her home and why was she in the forest?
Since I was paying attention to all the details and often rereading sections, this book was a slow burn. However, I was so captivated by the storyline that this slower pace didn’t bother me too much. I was completely entranced that I knew I wanted to reach the end no matter what.
I was completely entranced that I knew I wanted to reach the end no matter what.
Going through this book, the first half featured a lot of world-building as we follow Vern with her babies and learn about the compound she escaped from Vern’s experiences. The second half while more interesting, I felt was harder to follow especially as we start to see the compound’s dark secrets come to light. And throughout the entire book, there were several “what the…” moments that would make me uncomfortable and unnerved. Some scenes were very disturbing and unsettling.
There were several “what the…” moments that would make me uncomfortable and unnerved. Some scenes were very disturbing and unsettling.
Sorrowland reminded me of all sorts of other books and movies. From the beginning, I primarily saw similarities between Sorrowland and The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, mainly in regards to how the compound was set up and how strongly and strangely religious it was. As I went through the story, I saw another similarity to Maximum Ride by James Patterson, the first book as that’s all I’ve read from this series, the similarities I saw were around the type of secrets that came to light around the compound. Lastly, the strongest similarity I saw was with Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, between Sorrowland and Mexican Gothic there was a similar feel of how dark and unsettling things were. If you’re familiar with any of these, you might know what I mean.
Overall, I think this is a great read and definitely worth pushing through to the end. That being said, as I mentioned, I don’t think this is a book for everyone. Sorrowland pushes the boundaries of what we know with no remorse. This book will make you uncomfortable and your skin crawl. However, I think if you’re interested in science fiction and dystopian books that are dark, I definitely recommend trying this one out.