Sue Rainsford’s fresh and exciting first novel, Follow Me to Ground, reads like a dark fairy tale. First published in Ireland to glowing reviews, the novel is now reaching a much wider audience.
Our narrator is Ada, a healer who lives with her father in a small village. Ada and her father have strange and unexplainable gifts, and the other villagers, or Cures, come to the healers with a mix of reverence and fear. They open Cures on their couch and sing their sickness away. For particularly troublesome illnesses, Ada and her father temporarily bury Cures in the Ground and bring them up again, healed.
While Ada and her father appear to be human, they are decidedly not human, but something other. The churning and gurgling Ground is sacred to Ada, as she came from it. She remembers the taste of it, the tang of dirt in her mouth. Not only does the Ground have powers, but so does Sister Eel Lake. The Cures know to stay away from the lake that’s rumored to contain giant killer eels.
Ada’s life, while odd, is small and quiet until she meets Samson, a male Cure in the village. She grows curious and then entranced with Samson, creating a rift between herself and her father. Samson’s sister, Olivia, is pregnant and seeks help from the local healers, but Ada finds something troubling about the woman.
Both a coming-of-age story and a piece of ancient folklore, Follow Me to Ground is 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.