Alexis Henderson | pub July 2020 | 369 pp
I don’t typically read books with themes of devaluing and/or restricting women based on their menstrual cycles, ability to have children, or their overall perceived femininity, or lack thereof, as usually dictated by a man. 😒 I don’t understand why so many young adult books still include this foolishness and more, why we allow our young girls to entertain the shit, even in the name of black fiction. <Im looking at you The Gilded Ones and Homecoming.>
Anyway, this one isnt perfect but, at least the lessoning of women has an overall primary place in the plot instead of just an underlying theme we have to endure for no real reason. I also think its more bearable because we understand early on, our young protagonist, Imanuelle could likely change it all and be our hero.
Imanuelle Moore is an orphaned teenager, living with her family on the outskirts of Bethel. A deeply religious community that worships men as holy and regards women as dark, sinful and capable of witchery if not dominated and disciplined. Most of the young girls in the community are resigned to serving the older men and keeping their head down to survive. We’re witnessing Imanuelle coming of age, recognizing the violence visited upon young girls, and coming to terms with the ‘magic’ or powers handed down to her from her ancestors. As this is happening, several devastations are visited on Bethel. The men think its some long banished dark witch(a woman) cursing the town. Imanuelle grows to believe she alone could stop these curses but, it may kill her to try.
Predictably, there is one high holy father, the Prophet, with many wives and children that he manipulates in the name of Christianity. He’s eldest son, destined to become the next Prophet, becomes smitten with Imanuelle and he winds up having an awakening of his own.
The story is sold as horror but I’m not sure thats the case. I was never scared, mostly because i’m not a teenager living next to some weird woods in a misogynistic town. 😳🤔Well…definitely not the weird woods bit. 😒😉 But, I would say it was gothic and creepy. More ghostly and ghastly. There’s a scene in the dark woods where ghosts of murdered women of Bethel’s past attack Imanuelle and her friend and they barely make it out alive. The imagery was on point here and really the entire book.
I enjoyed the story and would definitely be interested in reading more from the author, especially if she turns this into a series! A solid ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ from me! Good book 19/2021