For fans of Emma Cline's The Girls and Emily St John Mandel's Station 11, this dark, unsettling and hugely compelling story of an isolated island cult will get under your skin.
Gather the Daughters tells the story of an end-of-the-world cult founded years ago when ten men colonised an island. It's a society in which men reign supreme, breeding is controlled, and knowledge of the outside world is kept to a minimum. Girls are wives-in-training: at the first sign of puberty, they must marry and have children.
But until that point, every summer, island tradition dictates that the children live wildly: running free, making camps, sleeping on the beach. And it is at the end of one such summer that one of the youngest girls sees something so horrifying that life on the island can never be the same again.
Reviewed by Olivia at Angus & Robertson Bookworld:
In a literary world where dystopia is no longer the new black, Gather the Daughters stands as a shining example that there is still so much to explore in this genre. Blending the sinister undertones of speculative fiction seamlessly with the evocative language of literary fiction, newcomer Jennie Melamed has written a gripping story about a cultish island community that has sealed itself off from a broken world. On this island, where women are subject to sinister levels of sexual control and children run wild every summer, tensions simmer quietly before erupting into a reckoning of biblical proportions.
Melamed’s writing is beautifully evocative - it’s potent but somehow never overbearing in the way it describes the horrors that the young girls are made to endure, and how they have been normalised. The remote island setting also does wonders for creating a creeping sense of horror and isolation, and the wildness of the island is chillingly reflected in the dissent that simmers amongst the young women who inhabit it. If you’ve ever wondered what could be worse than dying in an apocalypse, you might want to try living on this island for a while...