Publication Date: May 4, 2021
Publisher: MCD Books
Genre: Horror with fantastical elements
Sorrowland is a horror novel with fantastical elements that confronts the ways Black Americans have been/are still treated in our country and how that permeates and transforms our main character, Vern. Vern is a teenager who was raised in a cult and recently married to the leader who decides to make a run for it while heavily pregnant and we follow along on her incredible journey as she navigates the world. Along the way Vern gives birth to her twins, makes a home for her little family in the woods, fights off her enemies, meets new people, and undergoes a shocking and astounding transformation.
I was completely enthralled by this unique and impactful story. Vern is such a strong protagonist who I had an instant connection with. Besides being strong Vern is also wonderfully complex and flawed which made her feel realistic. This is a testament to Solomon’s writing since the things that happen to Vern are so outlandish it was hard for me to picture what exactly was happening to her. I also appreciated how Solomon challenges the ideas of sexuality and gender without taking away from the fantastical horror elements that this story is based on.
My only critique of this book is that there were times, especially at the end, where there was a lot of telling and not showing. Since this story is told all from Vern’s perspective it felt disjointed when we would have an omnipresent narrator tells us why things were happening. There is no way for Vern to know these events or reasons so I wasn’t really a fan of being told them. It also didn’t add much to the story since there were still some unanswered questions at the end. Although, the lingering questions don’t bother me since I enjoyed the relatively open ended way the story ended.
If you are looking for an eccentric horror novel that has a lot of important things to say then this book is perfect for you. If you aren’t sure you can handle horror, particularly body horror, then this might be one that you need to pass on. Rivers Solomon has such a distinctive way of writing where the characters and setting are fleshed out in a beautifully captivating way and I look forward to reading anything that they come out with in the future.