Honestly, this could be one of the most powerful stories that I have ever read. I am shattered.
Dark feminist fiction, gut-wrenching and poignant. A story of girls, women, sisters, mothers and friends. Dear Lord, my heart hurts.
I am really not going to say anything about the plot of this novel. I went into this knowing nothing…
…and I definitely recommend that reading journey. I picked this up just because I had seen quite a few of my book friends who enjoy Dark Fiction giving it 5-stars.
I read snippets of their reviews and knew that this was a story I wanted to check out. I listened to the audiobook and recommend that as a format. The narrator, Catherine Tabor, mesmerized me with their presentation of this story.
I would caution Readers going into this who may be triggered by talk/experiences of addiction. This novel does explore the harsh realities of the opioid epidemic in the United States and the author does not pull punches.
That is merely one impactful topic explored in this though. We also dive deep into the cycle of poverty, experiences of women and girls raised/living in grossly unsafe environments and the rural sex trade, amongst other things.
I’m not exaggerating when I say that I was instantly drawn into this narrative. McDaniel’s writing style is smooth and captivating, raw and gritty.
The choices McDaniel made in telling this story, I have no words; chef’s kiss. I am in awe. There are a few different perspectives over the course of the story, and you also jump around a bit in time.
Additionally, there are little sections that I found to be so unique, that added such depth to the narrative.
For example, McDaniel gives the perspective of the local river. I always love a sense of place within a story and the way this is done is great. The history and feeling, the desperation. It’s so well done.
Also, there are sort of fantastical Medical Examiner’s reports after the bodies of missing women are found discarded in the river. The reports give descriptions of them and their lives that in a way, I felt lifted them out of the darkness of their reality and gave them a whimsical identity/features. The one they deserved and may have desired.
What could have been in another time, another place.
Overall, McDaniel has achieved a captivating, heart-wrenching, authentic story of addiction, poverty, struggle and love, within the pages of On the Savage Side. This one will live in my soul for a long time to come.
I’m looking forward to reading more from this author!