When I first read the synopsis for Gather the Daughters, the debut novel by Jennie Melamed, I was instantly intrigued. I am a sucker for anything that surrounds a cult or had any cult vibes, so, based on other reviews, I figured this would be right up my alley. Although this novel ended up being quite different from what I was expecting when I began, I ended up really enjoying Gather the Daughters.
Set on an isolated island, where ten men and their families built a society of controlled breeding and domination. Taking part in ritualistic behaviour, the daughters of the island take part in scenarios that drag them from adolescence into adulthood before their teenage years are over. However, after one daughter sees something she cannot forget, she must share it with the others and suffer the consequences. Told in alternating chapters between different daughters of the island, this dark debut will leave you disturbed and bewildered.
The first thing that stuck out to me was the tone of the novel. This one read like a mix between Lord of the Flies and the Handmaid’s Tale. I thought this was really interesting. The language choice of Melamed makes it feel like a classic and, due to the content of the novel, I felt like this was a really smart choice. It made the time period of the novel feel ambiguous and, I feel, it added another layer of unrest and eeriness to the text.
I was completely addicted to this story and was eager to see where it was going to go. However, I was completely underwhelmed at the ending of the novel. I was really upset when I turned the final page. I understand the novel has to end at some point but I felt like I had no resolution. I had so many questions that I needed answered.
This one bends genres; it really doesn’t fit into any category. It is not a thriller, nor is it contemporary fiction, nor is it horror or science fiction. This novel seems to wear many hats and bends the lines of genre.
Overall, I feel like this is a book worth reading, even though it wasn’t one hundred percent what I was expecting. The writing was enough to keep me intrigued and the story was dark enough to have me enthralled.