Reviews

Sawkill Girls — Claire Legrand

September 7, 2018

Sawkill Girls

TITLE: Sawkill Girls
AUTHOR: Claire Legrand
RELEASES: October 2nd, 2018; Katherine Tegen Books
GENRE: Fantasy/Horror
AGE RANGE: YA
ACQUIRED: ARC

SYNOPSIS: Beware of the woods and the dark, dank deep.
He’ll follow you home, and he won’t let you sleep.

Who are the Sawkill Girls?

Three girls’ stories come together on the island of Sawkill Rock, where gleaming horses graze in rolling pastures and cold waves crash against black cliffs. Where kids whisper the legend of an insidious monster at parties and around campfires.

Where girls have been disappearing for decades, stolen away by a ravenous evil no one has dared to fight… until now.

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This is one of those reviews that I had to sit on for a while, because I had so many things I wanted to say about this book, and I just couldn’t quite figure out how to condense them into anything even remotely resembling a sensible length of review. Sawkill Girls is being marketed fairly heavily as horror, but it’s fabulism, too, with a world so gorgeously complex that I can’t ever quite determine if I adore it or am terrified of it.

Come for a while, reads the sign at Sawkill’s ferry dock, and stay forever.

Sawkillgirlssm

At Sawkill Rock, the beauty of the island masks a terrible, dark secret: girls keep going missing, and they’re being lost more frequently every year. Nobody knows where they go, and it’s almost become an accepted status quo among the people of the island. The atmosphere of Sawkill Rock is one of the most immersive settings I’ve ever read; I felt transported so fully into the island’s grasp that I couldn’t help the dread worsening in my gut with every chapter’s passing. Claire Legrand’s writing voice is superb here—having read previous work by her, I genuinely believe that this is where she is meant to be.

My little rock, her mother would say. My grave little mountain.

There are three main characters to this story, with chapters alternating between their perspectives, and my favorite was Marion, who broke my heart over and over again with the loss of her loved ones and, consequentially, her slackening grasp on normality. The representation in this entire book is amazing, and Marion is bisexual and fat, which is a combination I’ll never tire of (because, hello, it’s me!). These facts are dropped so casually that there’s no room for argument—there is no homophobia or body hatred, despite an occasional very brief moment of self-consciousness on Marion’s part. Beyond her appearance and sexuality, Marion is so tough, and pragmatic, and determined to keep up a strong front. I’ve always been the same way, and so, I constantly saw myself mirrored back in her character.

Don’t lose yourself to him, my darling one, Sylvia Mortimer had said. Not all of you. Keep a morsel for yourself.

Though it took me a little longer to warm up to Val Mortimer, I grew fond of her, too. She first appears as this over-simplified “queen bee” persona, but we quickly get to see a side of her that’s so much darker and more haunted than anything you’d imagine (and she’s queer, though we don’t know what her label is). There are quotes in her chapters that have haunted me since the moment I finished this book, and you should be warned that her perspectives frequently depict suicidal ideation and abuse.

Zoey’s laugh was bitter. “Oh, and we poor delicate girls are vulnerable and desperate, is that what you’re saying?”

Finally, there’s Zoey, who is black and asexual (on page—there’s an entire facet to her back story revolving around this aspect of her life), and even more than that, she’s so determined and stubborn and absolutely lovable despite being a fairly “unlikable” character. She’s stern and feisty, and while I’m not sure if she will be everyone’s cup of tea, I was delighted by her antics and unpredictability.

It did not relish tying an innocent to the burden of its ancient might. But the Rock required an infantry.

Okay… I lied, sort of. There’s a fourth character, but it’s hard to explain. The Rock gets the occasional perspective chapter, and while they’re incredibly short and typically entirely vague, they may have been my absolute favorites. These passages read so lyrically and they are so incredibly haunting. I’ve never read a book where a place was given a thinking, feeling sentience to this degree, and it adds the most amazing layer to the story.

“What I’m saying is that girls hunger. And we’re taught, from the moment our brains can take it, that there isn’t enough food for us all.”

On top of the beautiful cast of characters and the haunting atmosphere, this story is so feminist, so empowering and bold and unapologetic. I can’t tell you how strongly this parallels the real world and the ways society casts teen girls aside, nor can I describe how badly I wish I’d had this story as a teen—a story to tell me that it’s okay to be strong, and angry, and queer, and brave, and in need of another mountain to lean on.

You are mighty. You are one, and one, and one.
You are fragile. You can move mountains.
You are breakable. You will never break.
This power is mine. And now it is yours, too.

I know I said I’d keep this to a reasonable length, and I’m trying, but Sawkill Girls is one of those stories that I feel has changed me in a way. 2018 has been the year of brilliant, fiercely feminist reads for me, and this one easily joins the ranks of my favorites. I want everyone and anyone I know to pick up a copy of this gorgeous, spooky little book, because it packs such a punch, and I only hope that it will get even half of the hype it deserves.

All quotes come from an advance copy and may not match the final release. Thank you so much to Katherine Tegen Books for providing me with this ARC in exchange for an honest review!

5leaves


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53 Comments

  • Reply Tammy September 7, 2018 at 10:13 am

    I’m so excited to read this! I was going to wait until next month to read it but I may have to squeeze it in sooner😊

    • Reply Destiny @ Howling Libraries September 9, 2018 at 2:57 pm

      Yaaaay! I hope you get the chance to read it soon and that you enjoy it. Let me know what you think!

  • Reply booksandblends September 7, 2018 at 10:14 am

    Great review, Destiny!
    I can’t wait to read this when it comes out!

  • Reply Sara @ The Bibliophagist September 7, 2018 at 10:18 am

    Great review! This is one of my most anticipated books!

    • Reply Destiny @ Howling Libraries September 9, 2018 at 2:57 pm

      Thank you! This was one of my most anticipated too and it definitely did not disappoint!

  • Reply Deanna Reads Books September 7, 2018 at 12:17 pm

    I’m so glad you liked this one so much. I’m working with the narrator to get a copy of the audiobook version right now and she warned me it was spooky! I wasn’t too crazy about Furyborn, but I still want to give this author a chance.

    • Reply Destiny @ Howling Libraries September 9, 2018 at 2:58 pm

      Oh, very cool! I hope you enjoy it. And I feel you, I didn’t care much at all for Furyborn – I DNFed it at 200ish pages in and gave it 2 stars – but this was soooo much better for me.

  • Reply Roxanne Michelle September 7, 2018 at 12:19 pm

    Great review, you’ve convinced to buy it asap 😊

  • Reply By Hook Or By Book ~ Book Reviews, News, & Other Stuff September 7, 2018 at 1:30 pm

    Phenomenal review Destiny! I’m so excited to read this.☺️

  • Reply Kaleena @ Reader Voracious September 7, 2018 at 1:31 pm

    Wonderful review, I am excited to pick this one up and am glad you enjoyed it!

    • Reply Destiny @ Howling Libraries September 9, 2018 at 2:58 pm

      Yaaaay! Thank you, Kaleena. Seeing people excited to read this legit makes my day haha!

  • Reply Flavia September 7, 2018 at 3:28 pm

    I won a copy of this one and I cannot WAIT to read it! Especially now that you and my other blogger friend who has similar tastes to mine loved it!

    • Reply Destiny @ Howling Libraries September 9, 2018 at 2:58 pm

      Congratulations! 😀 I hope you love it. I’ll be keeping an eye out for your review! <3

      • Reply Flavia September 9, 2018 at 4:58 pm

        Awe thank you so much! ❤

  • Reply Carolina Carvalho September 7, 2018 at 6:00 pm

    I’ve heard people mentioning this book before but I wasn’t really that excited about it until I read your review! I’m definitely picking it up now.

    • Reply Destiny @ Howling Libraries September 9, 2018 at 2:59 pm

      Ahhhh, this makes me so happy!! I can’t express how much it warms my heart when I can help someone decide to pick up a book I loved. 😀

  • Reply Kathy @Pages Below the Vaulted Sky September 7, 2018 at 9:44 pm

    Oh this sounds so lovely, Destiny! And the diversity in it–swoon! Cant’ wait to get to it <3

    • Reply Destiny @ Howling Libraries September 9, 2018 at 2:59 pm

      Right?! The diversity was fantastic – major kudos to Claire for writing such lovely characters!

  • Reply Ellyn September 7, 2018 at 10:23 pm

    *cries* there’s an ace character???
    *immediately puts the book on hold at the library*
    This sounds fantastic, I can’t wait to get my hands on it!

    • Reply Destiny @ Howling Libraries September 9, 2018 at 3:01 pm

      Yes! ON PAGE! There’s even this whole ongoing discussion about how her insecurity regarding her asexuality has affected her, and you get to see her come to accept and love herself as well as her love interest proving that he loves and accepts her and isn’t put off by her being ace (which is something I worried would happen, so I just want to let you know, without spoiling anything, that he handles it really well!). Oh, something I need to add to my review is that there is one acephobic remark, but it is IMMEDIATELY challenged and the character feels horrible for it and apologizes profusely – just giving you a quick heads up on that! ♥

      • Reply Ellyn September 9, 2018 at 7:57 pm

        Thanks for letting me know, Destiny! I absolutely can’t handle Acephobia but knowing it is challenged before reading will make it so much easier to read!

  • Reply Nandini Bharadwaj September 8, 2018 at 4:32 am

    This sounds amazing! And I’m bowled over by your ability to write both insightful and entertaining reviews. I’m adding it to my TBR as soon as Goodreads cooperates with me. 😂 This book seems like a combination of The Wicked Deep in reverse and The Nowhere Girls. Thank you for this amazing review! ❤

    • Reply Destiny @ Howling Libraries September 9, 2018 at 3:01 pm

      Thank you so much, you are so kind! <3 The Wicked Deep and The Nowhere Girls are two books I really want to read soon, so you comparing them to this makes me even more excited to read them. 🙂 Thank you!!

      • Reply Nandini Bharadwaj September 10, 2018 at 2:31 am

        I think The Wicked Deep will be perfect around Halloween time or on a rainy day because it’s such an atmospheric novel. I didn’t read it at the perfect time/mood and to be objective, I thought the plot was predictable but the characters stole the show for me. I hope you enjoy it when you pick it up! 😊 Oh and The Nowhere Girls is one of my favourite contemporaries of all time. Highly recommended! 😍

        • Reply Destiny @ Howling Libraries September 11, 2018 at 12:01 am

          Ooooh, lovely! I am thinking about making a tiny little October-specific TBR jar to randomly pull atmospheric and/or spooky reads from, and if I do, I’ll be sure to add The Wicked Deep to it!

          • Nandini Bharadwaj September 11, 2018 at 1:36 pm

            That’s an awesome idea! I hope you enjoy whichever title Fate hands you. 🙂

  • Reply frayedbooks September 8, 2018 at 11:42 am

    I’ve seen this book around but was unsure if I wanted to pick it up – but your review has convinced me, this needs to be on my TBR! Thanks for the great review Destiny, I can’t wait to pick this one up! Definitely sounds like something I need in my life!

  • Reply Kathy @ Books & Munches September 10, 2018 at 5:35 am

    Right now I’m pretty much mumbling to myself full of shame that I THINK I have an ARC of this at home; one that I picked up at YALC, but haven’t read yet and.. I.. probably should, right? :’) Freak. Bye Sequel September.

    • Reply Destiny @ Howling Libraries September 11, 2018 at 12:16 am

      AHHHHH I hope you do! If you do, please read it and message me with all of your thoughts on it! <3

      • Reply Kathy @ Books & Munches September 11, 2018 at 6:23 am

        I will! <3 First going to read Batman and Catwoman – I think. I hope. Oh, and finish I Do Not Trust You, haha. After that, we'll see!

        • Reply Destiny @ Howling Libraries September 11, 2018 at 2:39 pm

          I still need to read Batman and Catwoman, too, but they’re not suuuuper high on my priority list right now? I’m just so iffy on superhero books! I also still need to finish Renegades…

          • Kathy @ Books & Munches September 12, 2018 at 4:33 am

            They weren’t on mine either but.. y’know.. Sequel September.. PLUS I’d feel bad for leaving Catwoman laying around for a year since it’s a gift, haha. Oh, and Batman counts as pre-2018 so there’s that. [And it’s only 250 pages so I should finish it SOON. Although the start is really slow..]

          • Destiny @ Howling Libraries September 12, 2018 at 5:09 pm

            I did hear that Batman was a pretty quick read once you get into it! I can’t wait to hear what you think of both of them.

          • Kathy @ Books & Munches September 14, 2018 at 2:38 am

            Batman’s a quick read in a way, and I loved the action-packed scenes. Lu’s definitely a pro at those but.. everything in between felt so slow? And I saw everything coming a mile off so idk. I’m really hoping Maas doesn’t disappoint me with Catwoman like Lu did with Batman. :’)

          • Destiny @ Howling Libraries September 16, 2018 at 1:46 am

            Aw, man… that’s frustrating. You know, in hindsight, I think that’s kind of how I felt about Warcross, so maybe it’s just her writing? I LOVED the action scenes (and the heavier romantic scenes) in Warcross, but the world-building bits dragged sometimes (not too often though, thankfully).

          • Kathy @ Books & Munches September 17, 2018 at 7:08 am

            I just skimmed my review on Warcross and didn’t mention anything about that back then. But.. a lot has changed in a year too, haha. Pretty sure I’m a bit more picky and specific when it comes to what kind of books I like now than I did back then. [Not to mention the old fear of writing a lesser review on a big author :’)]

          • Destiny @ Howling Libraries September 17, 2018 at 10:47 pm

            Ooof, yeah, the fear of down-rating a popular author is something I STILL struggle with sometimes, tbh… especially if it’s an author that’s widely loved within a specific community, like Adam Silvera. I really struggled with HIAYLM in part because he’s soooo popular among queer readers, and it hurt my heart to dislike one of his books so much.

          • Kathy @ Books & Munches September 18, 2018 at 2:47 am

            We both had huge expectations for that particular book. We can’t help it if we don’t like it! I hate how people sometimes forget opinions on books are soooo subjective and personal. And it’s not because you dislike a certain book by an author, you can’t like their other work..
            Why do we have to deal with so much pressure for something that’s supposed to be a fun hobby though. Feels like an eternal battle sometimes. :’)

          • Destiny @ Howling Libraries September 18, 2018 at 6:49 pm

            Right, exactly! Like, I loved They Both Die at the End. Just… not History. 😅 But yeah, I feel you – sometimes it gets exhausting. 😖

          • Kathy @ Books & Munches September 19, 2018 at 3:19 am

            I’m going to unhaul a bunch of books when I start packing them up to move and.. History is probably one of them 😅

          • Destiny @ Howling Libraries September 21, 2018 at 3:58 pm

            I don’t blame you. 😂 Granted, I don’t know if you saw the video I posted to Life and Lit, but it has me wanting to never unhaul anything ever again…

          • Kathy @ Books & Munches September 23, 2018 at 4:36 am

            I saw, showed the boyfriend and he pretty much freaked about “NOPE. YOU ARE NOT EVEN TRYING TO DO THAT OR I’M MOVING OUT.”
            Guess I’m only allowed one library room. 🙁 *cries* 😂

          • Destiny @ Howling Libraries September 24, 2018 at 3:53 pm

            Bahahahahaha! Aww… he’ll come around. ;P

  • Reply TeaPartyPrincess September 11, 2018 at 10:30 am

    Sawkill Girls sounds amazing and I want to read it so badly!
    Cora | http://www.teapartyprincess.co.uk

    • Reply Destiny @ Howling Libraries September 11, 2018 at 2:55 pm

      It is sooo good! I hope you get the chance to read it very soon when it comes out, it’s a perfect fall read.

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