Told by four young girls, this is a story of life in a cult where men rule and females obey. Their stories unfold as each girl grows into an awareness of what life will be like for them once they reach puberty and begin childbearing.
At the start of the book it appears that the members of the cult have retreated to an island after an apocalypse of some sort has destroyed most of civilisation, but as one reads on, it seems more likely that men of a certain proclivity have taken themselves out of civilisation so that they can live the lives they want, free from censure and punishment. The book is well-written and engaging, with details of the horrors the girls undergo being slowly revealed throughout the book.
One keeps reading, after coming to know the girls through their narration, hoping that all will turn out well. As the story becomes darker and more is revealed, it is almost impossible to cast the book aside, even though the subject matter is horrific.
The author is a person who works with abused children in a psychiatric role, and when I learned this, I was surprised that she could write about such things: not because she has written the book badly, but because she has written so well. I was upset to the point of wanting to put it away from me but I had to know how things turned out.
Gather the Daughters should come with a trigger warning, especially since we now know how many children are sexually abused and the effect this abuse has on them all their lives. Some may be able to read this book just as a novel with disturbing content, but for others it may bring up memories and feelings that are all too real.
Reviewed by Lesley Vlietstra
Gather the Daughters
by Jennie Melamed
Published by Tinder Press