Follow Me to Ground: Innovative and unsettling debut novel

Review: Sue Rainsford explores themes of sex, death and the female body

Sue Rainsford: Has a knack for writing bracing, off-kilter realities with strong feminist overtones.

Sue Rainsford: Has a knack for writing bracing, off-kilter realities with strong feminist overtones.

“He’d tell me how he mixed my parts together and planted me inside of a sack. He tied it shut with a rope and then lowered me down during a thunderstorm, and kept the end of the rope tied to the knob on the patio door.” Miss Ada, the narrator of Sue Rainsford’s beguiling, atmospheric debut Follow Me to Ground, gives us the lowdown on her origins. Miss Ada and her father are non-human healers who live on the margins of a small rural town – possibly in Ireland, possibly further afield – but certainly grounded in the familiar human territory of fear, sickness and the body.

First published in Ireland last year by New Island, and recently given a wider launch by bigger publishers in the UK and US, Follow Me to Ground mixes elements of horror, fairytale and myth to deliver a compelling, odd beast of a book. Arresting animal imagery is a feature throughout the story, from the healers’ den-like living quarters on the margins of the town, to the visceral descriptions of Ada’s father: “It suited him better, his animal gait. Though his limbs were modelled on a Cure male they were always ready to bend, his shoulders happily slinking forward and his hips rising behind him, the muscles in his legs pulled taut and presenting themselves.”

The Irish Times
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