HELLO, STRANGELINGS!

me:  Hello, and welcome to the first ever meeting of the Fantastic Strangelings Book Club!

You:  Wait…what happened?  I just walked in and everyone is staring and I didn’t even know I had reading assigned and THIS IS MY NIGHTMARE.

me:  No, it’s cool.  This is a super laid-back book club.  I’m not even wearing pants.

You:  I see.  Well, now it’s even more awkward.

me:  It’s a talent.  So here’s what you missed.  I started a book club for introverts who want to read strange, wonderful books.  The first one went out last week (along with book club stickers and pins and signed bookplates for the first 1200 people who signed up) and I just published a post on the Facebook page where people can discuss the book but some people hate Facebook so I’m also posting this right here in case people want to discuss in the comments of this blog post.  Or if you want to just read it and never discuss it at all that’s totally cool too.

You:  Oh.  Well, that actually sounds like something I’d very much be into.  How do I get in on this?

me:  Well.  We’re all sold out of January’s book but you can still get it from other indie bookshops or from the library.  It’s called FOLLOW ME TO GROUND by Sue Rainsford, and it is deliciously weird.  We actually had so many people interested in the book club that we had to stop offering new memberships for a bit but we are now adding more for February so you can click here to join if you haven’t already.

You:  Oh wait.  I just remembered that I already joined this club in a drunken haze last month.  I guess that explains why that book arrived in mail today?

me:  Hello, soulmate.  Welcome.

You:  So…what now?

me:  Now you read the book and if you want to discuss it you can do that here or over here on the Facebook page but no pressure if you just like to lurk or save up all of the years books until summer vacation or leave them in Little Free Libraries.  THERE ARE NO RULES.

You:  This sounds amazing.  So…can you tell me what next month’s book is going to be?

me:  OMG I’M SO GLAD YOU ASKED. (Although technically since you’re a member you should already have an email from me from last week where I spilled the beans early to members.)

Next month’s book is AMERICAN SHERLOCK: Murder, Forensics, and the Birth of American CSI, by Kate Winkler Dawson.  I devoured it in one night.  If you are a true crime aficionado like me you will LOVE it and even if you aren’t it is such a fascinating book.  It’s all about the life of Edward Oscar Heinrich, one of America’s first forensic scientists who cracked at least two thousand cases starting in the 1930’s.

You:  Oh.  That does look good.

me:  And the author is from Texas so she’s coming down this week and signing copies of the book for us, so as a member you’ll be getting a signed edition of  the book.*

You:  What.

me: I KNOW RIGHT?

You:  And what’s the book pick for March?

me:  I’m still working on March but I can tell you that April is a humor memoir/essay and the author is one of my favorite writers of all time and I love her IRL.

You:  Hmm…I think I can guess.  Is it-

me:  THE FIRST RULE OF BOOK CLUB IS THAT WE DON’T SAY WHAT THE NEXT BOOK IS UNTIL THE MONTH BEFORE.

You:  You literally just told me there were no rules.

me:  I am a complicated woman.

You: So will the authors ever show up in the comments of the book discussions?

me:  They’re all invited to but some are introverts too so no pressure on them.  I do though send them questions and I’ll share the answers here and on the Facebook page.  Sue is working on hers right now so look for them in the comments when she’s done.  And as a special thank you members will get an email with answers to THE WEIRD FIVE, which is a special five-question list every author will be given.

You:  Thank you.  I feel very important.

me:  You should.  You’re literally helping to create an entire bookshop just by being a member.  That is some heavy magic.

You:  Okay.  I’ve got a book to curl up with.  Any suggestion as to which cocktail to pair it with?

me:  Hmmm… since the main character is a magic vegetable creature maybe a bloody mary with lots of root veggies in it?  Tomato juice, celery, blood thinner….It’s practically a health drink.

You:  I’m sorry, did you say “magical vegetable creature“?

me:  Yes.  And this is exactly why you need to read the book because it is like nothing I’ve ever read before and I need to discuss it right now.

You:  I am both scared and intrigued.

me:  Then I’ve done my job.  Happy reading, friend.

*Just a note here that while we are currently accepting new members, only the first 2,000 members will get a signed copy of this book because that’s all we bought so if you are already a member you’re golden and if you aren’t yet but want to be just do it as soon as you can.  🙂  As always, if you have any questions just email us at orders@nowherebookshop.com.  This post will stay open for months so no worries if your book hasn’t arrived yet or if you’re a slow reader.

PS.  A few people are saying they can’t get access to the Facebook page when they click on the links.  It’s open to anyone so if you have issues just search for “fantastic strangelings book club” in Facebook and that should work.

110 thoughts on “HELLO, STRANGELINGS!

Read comments below or add one.

  1. Duuuude. I am a weird and wonderful extrovert. We have anxiety and weird thoughts and can be socially awkward AF too. Is this book club not for me?

    (Totally. Hailey is in your family 100% and she loves this book club. 🙂 ~ Jenny)

  2. I had hoped to learn how to read before you went live with this, but I haven’t gotten past Goodnight, Moon and Everybody Poops yet. It’s time to cram. (typed by my literate and erudite support ferret)

  3. Planned on lurking in the shadows, but guess I’ll speak out. I expected to feel an empathic connection to at least one character in the book. Didn’t happen. Partly, I suspect, because the genre was a bit out of my normal range. The plot was imaginative and unique … but I just didn’t seem to care what happened to any of the characters.
    That said, I was in no way disappointed in the selection. There … book report completed.

    (I said sort of the same thing to my mother. I found most of the main characters so terribly flawed that they were unlikeable but I still enjoyed the story. I think that might be part of why I liked the end. Because I didn’t feel emotionally invested in the main characters when it ended I was able to read it without that terrible anxiety that comes with seeing a character you love about to be hurt. I don’t know if that makes sense? ~ Jenny)

  4. It is weird leaving a comment on my own blog but that’s how this works, so…

    SPOILERS BELOW ….

    Y’all. WTF. This book just blew my mind for so many reasons. I love weird books but there was a part of me that wondered if this was too weird to start off with for the first month and would scare you all off. I was trying to describe it to someone and it’s not really horror…it’s more like…dark folklore? It reminded me of the old fairy tales (before they were cleaned up and made palatable) of the past.

    So here are a few things I wanted to discuss.

    1. The fantastic use of unreliable narrators. EVERYONE LIES IN THIS BOOK. To themselves or to others. But the truth still comes out.

    2. I saw someone on a review site say that this book was a romance and I have so many questions about their idea of romance. This book was a creepy morality tale for me…although I’m still trying to decide exactly the moral.

    3. The story or lack thereof. One of the things that I loved about this book is that it didn’t explain everything. I think if I had written it I would have been likely to try to explain everything about who the magical ground creatures were and what happened and what was going on with everyone else but the author presented it in such a way that I ended up having to really puzzle over what she gave and didn’t give. I don’t think that always works in writing because it can be so frustrating but I really liked the way it was done here. It was more haunting that way and let me come to my own conclusions about what was real or not.

    4. I suspect this book is a stand-alone sort of novel (and works well that way) but now I wish there was a book that explained the ground father and his life and what he’d expected from his daughter…why she didn’t turn out quite right. Was it just because she’s not human so that made her warped…but then some of the humans in this book are also warped and damaged in terrible ways as well.

    5. I forgot what I was going to say for five. I’ll come back after my bloody mary wears off.

  5. If you like books about forensics this one is coming out in February: “18 Tiny Deaths: The Untold Story of Frances Glessner Lee and the Invention of Modern Forensics” by Bruce Goldfarb.
    Seems like murder dollhouses would be right up Jenny’s alley as a future book club selection!

    (Adding to my list of books to read! I have an old copy of “The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death” that explores the miniature crime scenes she did. One of my favorite books ever. ~ Jenny)

  6. Jenny – YAAAASSSSS to what you said in your comment. I actually really liked the book but can’t put my finger on exactly why. Was not connected to any do the characters too much but I see what you mean about the ending then.

    I read it in two sittings so that has to say something.

    Side note – wine is made from grapes. Grapes are practically a vegetable since they are grown from the ground and such. So my point is – wine is a good accompaniment as well.

    Cheers!

  7. I didn’t sign up for the book club but would like to follow along on the facebook page. It won’t let me in. Do I need a special invite? Thanks.

    (That’s weird. I thought I had it open to anyone who wants to be there. Log in to Facebook first and then search for the page. It might just be a computer problem. ~Jenny)

  8. Regarding my comment (#3) … thank you, Jenny. That does make sense. I was absolutely fascinated by the book and the imagination of the author. You pointed out their flaws, and lies, and I guess I didn’t catch how that would personally cause me to keep them at arm’s length. And since I’ve been struggling a bit with my own challenges in life the past few months, I don’t need any of THEIR CRAP, too!

  9. For the broke strangelings, please note that there are TWO books called ‘American Sherlock’ so be sure you’re reserving the right one from the library

  10. Yay! Thank you for telling us about the books coming up! I can’t currently join the book club with my budget, but I can still check them out from the library and follow along! Thank you for creating this fun and safe place, Jenny! 🙂

  11. I am a Canadian Strangeling. Is my only option the virtual lurker?

    (Nope. You can totally join. Shipping is a bit more expensive though so no worries if you decide to get the book from another indie bookshop in your area. ~ Jenny)

  12. Agree on the strange separation I felt for the characters – I think the idea of Ada not being human and having that sort of remove overlaid all of the book and made it feel dreamlike and strange – although that might also be because I read it before bed all in one go. =)

    I thought the thing with Samson and his sister was weird and yes, unreliable, but read with a modern eye it’s hard not to want to believe everyone (as everyone is a victim, in one way or another) but also it’s hard to tell where the truth lies. I think that adds to the fey character of the book and how it feels ephemeral once you’ve walked away from it for a bit. Like, I don’t remember the plot that well (that could just be me) but I think it’s because of the foggy, misty quality of the writing.

    (“Misty quality of the work.” Well said. I actually had to read it again the next day because it sort of slipped away like fairy tales do and I needed to figure out some of the lingering questions. ~ Jenny)

  13. I asked I the previous book club post and I don’t think it got an answer- I do not have the funds to join but got the January book from the library yesterday- can I be in the FB group?

    (Of course! It’s open to everyone! ~ Jenny)

  14. I have a lot of thoughts and even more questions. But I’ll start with this observation—I had trouble at first getting into it because the this-could-never-happen and the I-don’t-understand-what’s-going-on type thoughts kept intruding. I had to ask myself exactly when I stopped being able to read fairy tales and just kinda take the weirdness at face value. I really enjoyed it after I convinced my brain to quit being a jerk and relax already. Still have questions though.

  15. If you’re into early forensics The Poisoner’s Handbook by Deborah Blum is awesome and there’s a PBS episode (American Experience maybe) that goes with it.

    (I love that book. ~ Jenny)

  16. Oh my heavens! That second month book sounds right up my alley. Well, not literally, because I don’t think there are technically any alleys near me. And I also don’t think the alleys in the second book are anywhere near Indianapolis, so, yeah.. What was I saying?

    Oh! This month’s book is amazing. I devoured it. I had to stop myself from reading so I would have more time to read it.

    (Yay! ~ Jenny)

  17. OMG! I just realized I was so excited to get my book that I didn’t even check the package for the sticker and pin!!!! Can I buy them??

    Sent from my iPhone

    (Oh no! Have you already throw away the package? If so you can buy replacements. Just email elizabeth at orders@nowherebookshop.com and she can help you. ~ Jenny)

  18. I tried to go on the Facebook page and it wouldn’t let me, but it’s okay.

    So, the book was so weird? I think one of the parts that was a little disorienting was like, I thought the fatherhood was completely clear, but then it was written as if it was a surprise to the reader, and I was like, wait, I thought that part was always spelled out. So that was kind of odd to me.

    I also didn’t realize exactly how young the daughter was supposed to look and then when I realized it was like, squick 100%.

    I don’t know what sister eel is supposed to represent, can anyone give me some ideas here.

    I feel like if I was in the bookclub in person, a lot of my time would just be saying, what?? WHAT??? as I tried to wrap my brain around the whole thing.

  19. I tried to go on the Facebook page and it wouldn’t let me, but it’s okay.

    So, the book was so weird? I think one of the parts that was a little disorienting was like, I thought the fatherhood was completely clear, but then it was written as if it was a surprise to the reader, and I was like, wait, I thought that part was always spelled out. So that was kind of odd to me.

    I also didn’t realize exactly how young the daughter was supposed to look and then when I realized it was like, squick 100%.

    I don’t know what sister eel is supposed to represent, can anyone give me some ideas here.

    I feel like if I was in the bookclub in person, a lot of my time would just be saying, what?? WHAT??? as I tried to wrap my brain around the whole thing.

  20. I, too, took it out of the envelope and dug in. Took time out to contemplate her growing her hole 🙄 and make dinner and draw a bath. Added bubbles, got in and knew immediately what was going on with Olivia and Samson. Got into bed wondering how Father messed up the previous “Adas” so badly and finished thinking “Wtf did I just read?” Lol I love that it’s so unique and so creepy. But I had so many questions. So.Many.Questions. Then an hour later I read a real estate listing that said “…with parking for 20 cares”. And I knew I had to go to sleep. 🤣

  21. Hi! I bit the bullet and joined the bookclub today (since I live in Canada, I was waffling because of the shipping cost–but what the heck?). Am I correct in assuming it’s to late for me to get the January book, but that I will be sent the February book? (I’m ok with this–I just need to know!)

    (Yes! Welcome!~ Jenny)

  22. So… I have not joined book club even though I am a weird, introverted reader. Why? I am extremely weird and have trouble reading an actual book and also lack some storage space for them. My question… will you eventually offer an e-version of books for book club? Or even links for private purchase of e-books? I can devour an ebook (and sneak pages at work when my husband is talking sports….) but an actual book tends to sit on my nightstand or on a shelf to look beautiful where I get afraid and anxious of bending pages and things.

    (I don’t think we have an option for that yet but it might happen. Not with the kindle but maybe an e-version. Still working on that. ~ Jenny)

  23. Who heals the healers? I found it heart-breaking that they were as broken as the Cures… Father’s odd blood-lust (they don’t eat, but he hunts and kills deer?) is as messed up as Ada’s need to entrap and “fix” Samson. I also love that she didn’t over-explain: we humans cannot agree on where we go when we die, so…it makes sense that these creatures have no greater handle on their origins – or just what The Ground’s intentions are…

  24. My library is not being helpful! They don’t have the next book in yet, and I’m still waiting for the current one. However, as a forensic scientist, I will weigh in on the next one whether I’ve read it or not!

    (My husband won’t let me buy books because he’s cheap and I…would buy all the books. Plus our library is great. Sigh.)

  25. Yes – everyone lies. But I was wondering – do we really get the truth in the end or is that just another lie?

  26. Oh, I’m excited. I’m going to get the first book on my Kindle because ooops, missed it, but I’m excited for the second one.

  27. No, it’s okay. We aren’t wearing any pants either!

    I am not sure is that is comforting or makes it more weird. I guess we are complicated too.

    E

  28. I devoured this book in two days. It was like a dream that was just on the edge of being a nightmare and you wake up before the thing happens with an adrenaline spike.

    (YES. ~ Jenny)

  29. This next book is right up my alley! Can we join for just a single month?

    (No, but you can always just buy it from an indie store and read along. ~ Jenny)

  30. I just signed up. Will I receive the American Sherlock book in February? Or is it too late to receive that book?

    (My guess is that we haven’t hit the 2,000 mark yet so unless I’m mistaken you’re totally set. 🙂 ~ Jenny)

  31. SO many things to think/feel with this book. I know that it was good because I got so angry with it. You want to believe that you know what Ada is thinking, or what she will do, or what is motivating her…but you don’t know any of those things because she’s not human. The author gave her enough “normal” human aspects that you can almost forget her non-human-ness, and then she goes and does something to remind you. Some things here I recognized and understood from the very first mention, and other things…I’m still not sure I understand.

    (YES. I almost thought that she was a psychopath but then I realized that being inhuman she really couldn’t be. But then what does it mean to be human…because Samson was just as inhuman in his own way. ~ Jenny)

  32. I just started reading “Follow Me To the Ground” yesterday and HOLY CRAP is this quite possibly the weirdest fucking book I ever read. But I kind of love it.

  33. I went oooh! When you first mentioned the club, then life happened, then aww merde I missed it —but am signed up for Feb, hail Bloggess!! I am so stoked. Also, not that there is any reason to come here but if you ever do look up Chamblins Bookmine in Jacksonville, FL, it is AWESOME but I am still saddened that I no longer live in Del Rio so no day trips to Nowhere in my future.

  34. What an awesome first choice! I love this book. It’s slippery. Weird. Scary. All the characters are flawed. I would never have read this based on the blurb. Jenny, thank you for bringing such a wonderful unique story to my life.

  35. I read it in one sitting! I agree with what everyone said here…it’s weirdness is hard to get past at first but it’s like nothing I’ve ever read before, and that’s what makes it stick with me!

    Also, as someone who doesn’t really do Facebook but likes participating..would you be open to maybe making a group on Goodreads? I don’t think I can respond directly to people’s comments on your blog, but I want to do that I can say YAAAAS I FELT THAT WAY TOOOO! And I know that’s something you can do on goodreads. But maybe I should just use the Facebook group 🙂

  36. So I went to check the mail… there’s a book in my mailbox… so naturally I changed the sheets on my bed , took a shower and curled up immediately to devour the book.

    Spoiler alert 🚨

    Magical plant witches. I’m angry at himself because he hasn’t read it, started reading it really and I have thoughts and feelings about it.

    Magical long lived plant witches at first I thought immortality and gods you know the usual, but why does father hunt 🦌? Why does father have no name?

    Ada had to create an opening to have sex, I doubt gods would need help in that way.

    I can’t wrap my head around it. Help!!!

  37. I started the book Saturday night and quickly decided it might not be the best book to read while alone and right before bed. So Sunday afternoon I devoured the rest. Loved the writing style and the ethereal nature of the story. It was probably one of the odder books I’ve ever read, but a big part of why I signed up was to let someone else pick the books for a while and read beyond my usual choices. I think one of the most surprising parts to me was how the Cures accepted Ada and her father and their gifts and came willingly for help. No angry villagers! I thought I understood Ada fairly well until she killed (killed?) her father. And the end, with Samson emerging, was beyond creepy.

    I am very much looking forward to February’s book, as forensics fascinates me!

  38. I could not put this book down and then the ending i was like WTF? But having slept in it, I loved this book! I loved all the descriptions of a strange sort of nightmare. It was weird and creepy and I was not heavily invested in any of the characters, but I found myself entranced with the story, and was completely unable to put it down! Thank you Jenny! I don’t know that I would have chosen this one on my own, but I’m so glad you did! I can’t wait to share with a friend I know will truly appreciate all the weirdness!

  39. This morning I finished reading, “The Alphabet House” by Jussi Adler-Olsen. This afternoon I started, “Follow Me To Ground”, and finished reading and digesting with only a break for dinner. I loved both as the characters in both kept secrets and lies for long periods of time.This matched a pattern in my life so I continue learning more about myself and my afflictions.
    Thanks for this choice. I can hardly wait for next month.
    Michael Boyd in Florissant, MO.

  40. I am so excited!! I got my book today! (Ok, I checked the mail today…the book probably arrived a few days ago.) I can’t wait to start reading and I’m super stoked about next month’s book!

  41. I was so engrossed that I read the entire book in one sitting (and up much too long past my and my cats’ bedtime)! I took a different take on all the different narratives – instead of “everyone lies,” I read it more as everyone has a different reality/perspective/truth. Samson and Olivia were a bit obvious, but the ending was truly delightful since it kept the mystery and, like Jenny and others, I wasn’t attached to any of the characters. I did few as though the ending was wrapped up a bit too quickly, but neatly nonetheless. I love the way Jenny described the genre “dark folklore,” since it really is hard to nail down! I’ve already recommended this book to several others and am lending it out!
    Can’t wait for next month!! This is the best book club ever – love this tribe!

  42. I need to get to the post office and check my box! I suspect my daughters will be fighting over who gets this one next.

  43. I feel like this book left me with so many more questions than answers – and not just with one issue or one relationship but many. I wanted to like the characters but, especially Ada, but in the end couldn’t. The relationships between Father and Ada, Ada and Samson, Samson and Olivia and often Ada and the Cures were ugly. An almost constant feeling throughout the book, of disappointment, condemnation, and revulsion from different characters with and toward other characters for various reasons and as part of different interactions. The ending is also a mess for me. So, after Ada kills her Father with her third arm (assuming it’s metaphorical), a…version… of Samson came out of the Ground and Ada is…pregnant? The book does mention the young man looking at a small bump on her stomach. And when the young man expresses that Olivia said Ada would know what happened to his father and that his father was named Samson, was Olivia trying to express to Ada that no matter what either of them said, both brother and sister were willing participants in the act that led to her pregnancy. Through her son, you understand that Olivia does not feel abused though she did imply that one of the first times she saw Ada. Samson, in turn seemed to be the innocent in the situation and that his older sister had always treated him in this way. The idea of Samson meeting his son or not, considering his behavior that changed since he came out of the ground as well as how he is related is the real mystery, the real ending to the book.

  44. This book made me feel so many things. Uncomfortable a lot…. at the notion that Samson liked Ada because she looked like a child… so was he a pedophile? -Samson and his sister, whom we are lead to believe are related, was his sister abusing him, or vis-versa, the incestuous child they had that appears at the end of the book (the boy says his father was samson, and that his mother was never married to Harry, yet in the book others talk of Harry and Olivia). Yet the boy who appears at the end says that his mother never had a sister. Who was telling the truth?!

    Everyone LIES!!

    I feel like this book was riddled with metaphors and symbolism that will take more than one read to really understand.

    I am glad though that I came along for the ride with the book club, its a book that I would have never normally picked up. However, it was creepy, confusing, beautiful and interesting all at the same time.

    I can’t wait to read the response from the author to your questions. I have googled the sh*t out of this novel to see other peoples thoughts.

  45. I’ve got Feb’s book on pre-order, but I can’t get into the facebook page. It says “You do not have the necessary permission for the specified Page to perform the requested action.”

  46. Update: I can get into the facebook group by searching for it, but not via the links in the blog post.

    (That’s so weird. I’ve seen two other people say that but I don’t know why it isn’t working. Can you do me a favor and give me a link that does work for you so I can compare it? ~ Jenny)

  47. So I am a yeah ok I went to local bookstore ( love them) and they said I was the third person asking about this book. It also came up right away on amazon ( that’s were I keep my book wish list). I think there are way more of us then you realize.

    Thank you for being you. It makes me feel like I’m not alone in all this craziness. So glad I found your first book all those years ago.

  48. I am SO conflicted about the first book. I read it all in one sitting, and was completely intrigued by the first few segments, as I was trying to figure out the world and how Ada and Father operates within it. However, as it progressed I found myself getting more and more irritated. I’m not a stranger to books with unreliable narrators, or a world that is mostly mystery, but this book took those and ran off a cliff. I wished that there had been one character that the reader could really connect with, or a chapter that delved further into the lore. I agree with prior comments about how it would have been nice to hear more about Father’s backstory, and the story of why he created Ada, and how they operate in a more concrete way. I think the authors writing style is intriguing but not as well used as it could be in this novel. I just found myself wanting to know more basic information. My biggest gripe is probably about the situation with Samson and Olivia. I didn’t like that the story tried to play off each person as the “bad guy” and that ultimately it seemed the Olivia was the most in the wrong because that’s what Ada as the narrator believed- they shouldn’t have been regarded in the same light or there should have been some method by which the truth is ultimately revealed. The subject of a relationship involving invest is a huge land deeply complex topic, and it just wasn’t handled quite right for me here. Especially at the end, where it seemed like Olivia had created a narrative for her son that had Samson as the father and her late husband as non-existent. Was she still being the evil character, proud she had a child with her brother, or was she protecting herself and her child by acting as though Samson was not ever her brother? I just need closure, and I don’t think I would feel as frustrated by this novel.

  49. So far I’ve read this book three times and I still have questions. But I don’t think they’re supposed to be answered. I keep thinking about the nature of desire, of the lies we tell ourselves and others. So…GIANT SPOILERS HERE…here is my thought on the ending (and I think the cool thing about this book is that it haunts you and can be looked at in many ways so no worries if you totally disagree). Remember when Arson Bell says that the father looked at him like he knew he’d done something terribly wrong? He said that he was a young man and didn’t know any better and didn’t have anything else to do and that the father made Ada go out to play so he wouldn’t be around? I almost wonder if he’d done something with a very young Olivia. And then Olivia acts out her trauma with Samson and then it leaves in him the same sort of “sickness”. Of victims becoming perpetrators. The idea of passing on sickness is in the book…like when they take away a tumor but it reappears on the wall of the house…the sickness doesn’t go away…it just moves if you don’t really cure it. The father knew that Samson was “sick” but Ada didn’t care (or didn’t have the capacity to care because she wasn’t human)….but Olivia didn’t care either, which really goes back to the question of, “What is humanity? Is it the flaws? Is there a point where we lose our humanity? I am losing a little of my humanity for wanting to strangle these characters even though I should feel pity for them?”

    My assumption is that Olivia told her son that Samson was his father (and left out the part about also being her brother or step-brother) and told him not to believe the “lies” of the townspeople when looking for Samson and Ada. I think she wanted her son to take revenge on Samson and Ada but in the end Samson had already destroyed everything that was good about Ada and was finally awakened to become the monster he was already beginning to be and the assumption (for me) is that he probably destroyed Ada and his son. In the end they all destroyed each other.

    For me one of the most telling parts was when Samson kept asking Ada to fix his sickness and the father saying that she couldn’t just ignore his sickness because she was making it worse by indulging him rather than trying to fix him. That idea that pain can be contagious and can turn into something far more dangerous if not cut out or examined or recognized seemed like a theme to me. But I could be totally wrong.

    I get different things each time I read it and the only thing I know for sure is that it is so haunting and dizzying….like a strange dream.

  50. So I’m a weird strangling CANADIAN, and as much as I would absolutely ADORE being part if your beautiful book family and support your awesome book shop, I just can’t spend $20 per book on postage (I’m Scottish. It’s legitimately against my bloodline to do so). But I would live to support my local indie bookstore by buying each title and participating too? Would that be cool? 😊 Love from the Great White North 🇨🇦

    (Of course! ~ Jenny)

  51. It’s a lot to pay $20 to get a book shipped to Canada each time and that makes me very sad because I wanted to be a part of the group. 🙁 But, like the Scottish lady above me in these comments, I might just buy the books myself and be a book club of one.

    (You can totally be an honorary member and just buy from an indie store in your area or get it from your library. Everyone is welcome! ~ Jenny)

  52. Finished it today and found it oddly fascinating, despite it not being the type of book I’d normally read. I was curious to see where the story led despite not really caring about ANY of the main/support characters at all (except MAYBE Lorraine, but even then, that’s a stretch). The whole read had a very Twilight Zone/Outer Limits feel that appealed to me, but I’m still trying to decide if everyone had their version of a “fairy tale ending” or Freddy Krueger’s

    (To me it was very dark fairy tale…the kind where no one survives. ~ Jenny)

  53. This was the creepiest book I’ve ever read. The part I couldn’t get over was the burial…claustrophobia!!! I almost gave up on this book a few times but something compelled me forward to see if I could figure out what the fuck was going on!

  54. I’m also going to be buying the books on my own here in Canada, just cause the $20 shipping could turn into a whole other book if I play my cards right. That said, I have already ordered American Sherlock on pre-order. I’m so excited! This is exactly the kind of book club I have been waiting for … I don’t have to put on real pants, I’m with my tea collection, and all the other strangelings are gathered here already. Thank you so much for doing this for us!

  55. Aw girl, I’m a cat so are cats allowed to join because I so want to join. I can read, too so it’s all good. Do you have your 2000 members yet so will I still get a signed copy if I join now? But wait! Oh, sorry, just used to people saying there is more!

    (All cats are welcome. If you joined by yesterday morning I think you should be fine because we were still under 2000 member then. We might still be under. ~ Jenny)

  56. I purchased the audio because, while I LOVE books and reading and new stories, I absolutely SUCK at sitting down to read.

    I started listening last night. I had to finish ‘Maybe You Should Talk to Someone’ – which is totally worth a listen.

    It was certainly an interesting switch. It takes a lot more effort to listen to a story like this because the language and meter and EVERYTHING are so different from a semi-autobiography. But it’s SO compelling. I haven’t listened to anything but talk radio on the way to work in ages but I found myself drawn to this audio book, first thing in the morning, on the drive to work at 7am.

    It’s so weird but so magical. And the language is beautiful. The imagery produced, the sound of the words as they’re spoken. Real beauty.

    I haven’t gotten to the ‘horror’ aspect yet. Or maybe I’m somewhat immune to certain types of horror in print. I mean, I guess if this were a movie, I’d probably be pretty horrified by some of the imagery by now. I could be so dark but all I can imagine is light. Because of the day time and the heat – all the heat.

    I’m so excited to see where this is going!

  57. It’s odd to me no one is taking about sister eel. So we have a pond, and all the eels eat each other. Then it’s down to the brother and sister, then the sister eats the brother. Then anyone who wanders in the pond gets killed. So okay, the pond is sickness, or perversion? And people destroy each other with it? Even the ones we are supposed to trust to take care of us?

    I think it only killed children though. And we had a baby that appeared…

    So, alright, eels are perversion, the perversion kills children (Sampson’s childhood) but sometimes creates a baby (Sampson Jr)? Hm.

  58. Comment about February book & miniature crime scenes: There is a Father Brown episode about this subject. “The Smallest of Things” Past and present collide when Father Brown investigates the macabre world of dollhouse crime scenes. Season 5 Episode 7 Father Brown attends an exhibition of Agnes Lesser’s dioramas of murder scenes, which have helped the police solve crimes.

  59. I reached out to the author with some questions and she was kind enough to answer them so I’m sharing them here. If you’re a member you’ll be getting an email with these and also you’ll get access to THE WEIRDEST FIVE QUESTIONS (a questionnaire I’ll ask every author).

    So let’s get started:

    Jenny: I loved this book. Thank you for writing it. The characters were so strange and fascinating and the story really haunted me after it was over. What inspired you to write this story?

    Sue: So much of what we’re told is a normal part of womanhood is actually incredibly violent and strange, and I wanted to spend time thinking about that danger and strangeness and how it’s slipped under the radar when we’re growing up. Back in 2013, the way that felt richest to imagine how a girl who isn’t brought up with any of the traditional notions of girlhood and how she might experience her own body. The story moved from there.

    Jenny: Where do your characters come from?

    Sue: That’s an interesting question. I always feel, to write characters properly, I have to treat them like real people from as early in the writing process as possible. Ada is a distillation of a lot of theory and imagery coming out of books like Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex, and in some ways it felt like her voice came into my head fully formed. And then Samson is a very wounded person, and Olivia is carrying around a huge anger…I remember talking to them out loud when I was cooking or cleaning, and imagining what they would say or how they would feel—what comments or questions they’d find irritating or interesting, how they took their tea, what they were frightened of as children. I think they came out of those daydreamy conversations more than anything else.

    Jenny: It seemed like a running theme in the book was about the lies we tell each other and ourselves, and about how those lies can bring ruin to everyone. Am I reading too much into this?

    Sue: Not at all. I find self-deception really fascinating and it’s definitely a core part of the book. I like thinking about the lies we tell ourselves to get through the day, the deceptions that run so deep for so long we forget they’re fabricated. I think it’s these lies, the ones we build an erroneous sense of self around, that can do the most damage to the people around us because we’ll do anything to keep them afloat.

    Jenny: As soon as I finished this book I immediately gave it to my mother and then my good friend because I had to discuss it with someone. I told them both that it was science fantasy/horror because that’s the way it spoke to me but my mom (who isn’t a fan of horror) said it wasn’t horror at all and was a dramatic character study and my friend said we were both totally wrong and it was obviously magical-realism. Who is right here?

    Sue: I’m always delighted when people have diverse responses to the book, and to me they’re all equally valid. Language has always been the most important thing to me, and genre sort of comes along later, so I think all these things are going on but—depending on what speaks to you and where your reading tastes lie—different aspects stand out more vibrantly than others. I do find the term magic realism useful, because I like to measure any fantastical kind of element with grounded detail, but in general I think the label of a particular genre can bring along a lot of expectations, and I’m not sure those expectations always serve a book.

    Jenny: What do you want people to take away from the book?

    Sue: That intimacy comes at a cost, and that the cost is different for different people.

    Jenny Do you have any writing tips or tricks that you’d like to pass on?

    Sue: Whenever I’m stuck I remind myself to write from a place of desire: what, as a reader, do I want to see on the page when I open a book? And that will always get some sentences moving, and often help me I’ll fix a section I’m struggling with.

  60. I hope your book club does The Night Circus. It was one of the most delicious and mind changing books I’ve ever read.

    (LOVE that book. Pretty much just focusing on new books but it might be cool to have a “If you liked this you’ll love” sort of thing each month….hmm… ~ Jenny)

  61. I had to let go of my inquisitive mind and not try to figure it all out to enjoy this book. To me the ending made it horror-ish, but I love the thought of it being a fairy tale ala Grimm–dark, cautionary, real. That said, when i was finished, the NYT review really pulled things together for me.

    Also, until I read the comments previous to mine, I totally believed that Olivia was telling the truth and that Samson was lying. Now–not so sure.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/21/books/review/sue-rainsford-follow-me-to-ground.html

  62. As a note for those that want to have the digital copy to read, the February book is currently available to pre-order on Amazon for $7.47, regularly $28. It says it’s $13.99 on the main page, but once you click on pre-order, it switches to the $7.47 price on the confirmation page!

  63. Help. I want to become part of the book club but when I tried to sign in it said my email was already taken? I am out of the country until April 1 and falling behind on the first 2
    books and becoming a member?

    (That’s weird. Email elizabeth at orders@nowherebookshop.com and she’ll be able to figure it out. She’s amazing. ~ Jenny)

  64. I agree that this genre would be considered dark folklore. I didn’t get horror at all. My first gut after finishing the book was, well I didn’t care for that at all. But with that being said I read the first half and stopped to make dinner thinking I’d leave the second half to finish tomorrow but then immediately picked it back up. Start to finish in just over 2 hours so I didn’t dislike it that much! I didn’t really care about any of the characters though. Also at first I didn’t think the Cures knew they were being buried because the first one they healed was buried after she was asleep and then not wolken up until they brought her back in the house. But then I realized they obviously know because they mention it and Father and Ada start waking then up while they are still partially buried in dirt. I wouldn’t want to be buried! Can’t wait for more conversation and books.

  65. Also it took me a minute to get used to her style of writing. I just got a point where I had to accept this universe and decide (like when watching The Witcher) that wherever this was going, I was along for the ride.

  66. So happy to see Dorothy Barker seems to be doing just fine. I live in Portland so Powell’s and Annie Bloom are my haunts. When I lived in Austin, Book People.

    My career has been Project Manager for experience design of retail spaces (the last ten for flagship Nike stores), I did the photo glass exterior of Harry Ransom Center UT with Lake Flato. Reach out if I could help. There is a design firm I worked at in Austin, fd2s, that I still have good contacts with. You are facing a daunting task that I have SME (subject matter expertise) in.

    Yours is the longest blog I’ve followed since way before “Pretend This Never Happened”. I bought the book, loved it, then made the connection. Let me know if you would like help with the build out and consumer journey.

    You have made me laugh for many years.

    My mother had serious mental illness. My (hero) Dad decided when I was three years old that it wasn’t healthy for either of us and won sole custody in 1963. He raised me right.

    Just saying…

  67. I was explaining this book to my 8 year old daughter & it sounded totally whackadoodle, which is probably why I enjoyed it so much. I felt badly for Ada, even when she trapped Samson. That girl didn’t have a lot of good life options. I could’ve lived without the allusions to pedophilia. (Always, ew.) I liked the flow, perspective of storytelling & flouncy language in the book. Ironically, I had just finished a book by Sally Rooney that also lacked quotation marks. What do the Irish have against “quotation marks”???!!! I’m 27% Irish & I like them. To sum up, I loved that this book was a bit “out there” (those are superfluous quotation marks just because I can). That’s what I was hoping for so keep ‘em coming!

  68. I have such mixed feelings about this book. Loved the writing, hated the characters, pieces of the story amazed me, other pieces completely squicked me out.. I could go on, but earlier comments have already addressed most of what I felt. Overall, I would have to say I disliked the book. That being said, I work at Barnes & Noble, and have recommended it to quite a few people. I keep thinking about the characters and the breaking of taboos and that wonderfully creepy Ground. I think that the very best books are the ones we can”t stop thinking about – love them or hate them.

    I have a weird and wonderful recommendation for all my fellow Strangelings:

    Hollow Kingdom by Kira Jane Buxton
    The virus and technology based zombie apocalypse as told from the point of view of a pet crow, with occasional brief glimpses through the eyes of other domesticated, feral and wild animals. It is remarkably funny, at times terrifying and just…beautiful.

    Thanks, Jenny. I can’t wait next book!!!

    (Putting this on my reading list right now. ~ Jenny)

  69. Why aren’t you carrying the book club bookś at nowhere? I can’t always afford the club picks or sometimes I can’t afford it when the club is acquiring it, but I would like to give you my business when/if I do get to buy one.

    (We will when the building is finished and we have a real place for inventory but right now it’s all working out of our homes and is just a little too demanding/space consuming. But starting probably March or April you’ll be able to buy it online from us. ~ Jenny)

  70. I just joined the bookclub today (Jan. 31) – hoping it’s not too late to get the Feb. book!

    (You should be good. 🙂 ~Jenny)

  71. Wow this book is deliciously weird. I brought it to my infusion and it made the time fly. 45 minutes gone in a snap. How did you discover this book? Originally it was going to go with me just to the hospital but there is no way I waiting that long between readings.

    (I looked on a bunch of websites that were talking about books coming out in January and then whittled it down from there. I wanted something that wouldn’t necessarily have gotten a lot of press, but that was also really good and very discussion-worthy. There were a few others that I was looking at that I wanted to read though so my reading list is enormous right now. ~ Jenny)

  72. Critical but unrelated comment – If you don’t know this woman, I think you should. And stock her candles. and possibly her “Anxiety to go please” gift boxes.

  73. I was thinking after reading more of these responses how much the end of the book reminded me of the short story “The Monkey’s Paw.” You just know neither one is going to end well…

  74. Honestly couldn’t handle the pedophilia aspect. Loved the book until that. Too triggering, which sucks, because I loved the way it was written.

  75. This is the first book I’ve finished reading in less than a week in many years. I joined the book club to read more books and it worked! Eagerly awaiting Feb’s book. I agree with Anonymous comment, Jan 27 at 5pm, about the inability to connect with the characters. Also the author’s imagery of the weather as sticky hot or moistly wet from the rains…oh wait!…. nsfw I see what you did Sue Rainsford

  76. This was the first book I read that wasn’t YA in a very long time. It was freaky and creepy and haunting and somewhat stressful. I wasn’t really sure if Ada and her father were healing or harming or killing the “cures” and if Ada was a vegetable why she seemed so human at the end and more fleshy… if that makes any sense. Also, it had somewhat Electra vibes between Ada and her father. I’m still not sure if Olivia was Samson’s lover/wife or sister. But it definitely lived up to the hype of Jenny’s description. Also, which woman was Delilah in the story? Ada or Olivia? Ada seems like a strong contender since she got rid of Samson’s power over her somewhat by making a false promise by shoving him into the ground, but at the end Samson emerges with super strength maybe? Thanks for the recommendation.

  77. Y’ALL! So I reached out to Sue (the author) and she’s loving all the discussion here and is so grateful for everything. I asked if she could answer one burning question that came up a lot in this discussion (that I had too) and she did. So here it is:

    Jenny: The one question that we keep debating is this: In the end you right that Ada says Olivia sent Oliver so that she could see that Samson had lied…but we can’t agree on what that means. I thought it was the lie (or unspoken truth) that Samson was the father but Ada already seemed to know that even though Samson never stated it outright. Am I off?

    Sue: yes you’re right: it was more of an unspoken truth which Ada was aware of but refused to look in the face.
    I like to think of Olivia on her sickbed, thinking of ways to do a last bit of harm, how to rub the truth in everyone’s face and ruin any happiness she thought Ada might have achieved, or any happiness she and Samson might be enjoying together.
    I’m very touched the book got so much conversation going! Thank you again for picking it and for all your thoughtful interpretations!

  78. Reading this book felt a little like surfing. I just had to ride with it without overthinking…an excellent exercise for an over thinker like me. Jenny, thank you for choosing such a magical and creepy little book.

    I was so in deep with Ada’s curiosity and perspective that I never doubted her conviction in her own intuition that she knew how to heal her man. (Don’t we all get like that with our partners???). Realizing that she was actually quite unwell to the point of patricide was like a slap. So many questions remain. I felt like I was just about to see behind the curtain when the book ended with his rising and the weight of the son’s presence between them.

    Looking forward to the next one!

  79. If you’re into forensics and the early part of the twentieth century, you must read CURIOUS TOYS by Elizabeth Hand. One of the main characters is Henry Darger, but the central viewpoint is from a young woman named Pin who is passing as a boy, living in squalor in Riverside Park in Chicago with her mother, who is a fortune teller there. Murder, intrigue, forensics, all based on real cases of the time. And Henry Darger! It doesn’t get much better than this. It’s dark, gorgeous, and poetically written. I think everyone should read this.

  80. I’m wondering if the reply address on my book says “eight pounds of uncut cocaine” because it seems to be spending a looooooong time in customs.

  81. I acquired this book late and don’t have much to add in the way of comments, but I am left wondering about one thing that I haven’t seen mentioned elsewhere (because it’s pretty dumb, probably): What are Ada and her father always cooking?? There are numerous scenes where the two have a conversation while stirring something on the stove. Ada is at the stove when Lorraine arrives for her final visit. But they don’t eat, right? So wtf is in those pots?! o_O

  82. Jenny, I need your help. I can’t afford to join the club with overseas shipping so I’m talking to local bookshops about sourcing the books. I feel I’m missing out on the Weirdest 5 Questions and the emails, as well as not supporting you and your bookshop.

    Is there any chance you can create a bookless membership, preferably under $5 per month, which will give people access to the extras while they source their own copy of the book?

    Jen xx

  83. Hi y’all! I LOVED Follow Me To Ground and my only complaint would be that it wasn’t longer!
    Look out below! ~ MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD ~ and a lengthy personal interpretation of the first book club pick!

    Wow, that was a wild ride! I had a hard time getting into it because I had to keep pausing as my brain scrambled to figure out WTH was going on. It took me a few sittings to get through, which is surprising given the length. But by the time I finished, I was entranced! I went straight back and reread it from the beginning, all in one sitting. I did pause in between to read all of the comments here, and really enjoyed everyone’s thoughts as well as the insights from the author.
    I had a hard time shifting my mindset to accept this alternate reality. I had to keep reminding myself that Ada and Father are not human; in fact, I think they are monsters that have taken human form. They both seem to derive some pleasure from killing animals, which is seemingly at odds with their healing “profession.” Father at least manages his urges by hunting wild animals. As a child, Ada killed slugs, insects, birds, but her needs mature with her body.
    There are some important points at the beginning that I had completely forgotten about by the end, so re-reading really helped me make sense of the story.
    First, the cooking throughout strikes me as a nod to their witchy nature, and I think they are making broths that heal broken body parts. For example, Miss Lennox’s lungs are stored in liquid in the pantry while she is in The Ground.
    Second, Ada makes an early distinction between the Burial Patch and The Ground. The Burial Patch has been tamed by Father to heal and then release the Cures. But The Ground “gorged on bodies…shaped them to its own liking.” Father buries Cures in the Burial Patch, but I believe Ada pushed Samson into The Ground, and I also think Samson’s son is destined for The Ground when he goes into the garden at the end of the novel.
    Regarding the legend of Sister Eel Lake- I am sure there are multiple levels of symbolism here and I am still teasing them apart. But the first pages of the novel describe a drain: from which slugs emerge; sparkling “with its secret wet supply;” into which they dump the sickness they remove from the Cures. Not gone, but it goes elsewhere. I think the drain is connected to Sister Eel Lake and the terrors are a physical manifestation of the ills of the town.
    Which brings me to what I think is a major theme in the story- the oppressive heat and boredom the characters face seems to have driven everyone a little mad. “We didn’t have many ways to pass the time,” is Arson Belle’s excuse for his evil. Samson, too, almost seems to be making excuses when he tells Ada about his and Olivia’s childhood with their aunt, always cooped up and alone with nothing but half a deck of playing cards.
    Here I have to mention how frustratingly naïve Ada is, and again remind myself not only is she inhuman, but she is just a girl, in body and mind. She is oblivious to the obvious signs Samson and Olivia are sending about their relationship. She can’t understand why Olivia would think Samson would hurt a child without realizing he sees her as one, and has in fact hurt her. And when Samson’s son scoffs that she is just a girl, she assumes he just refers to her biological sex, not understanding he mistakes her young features for a descendant of Ada. I believe this naivete is part of the author’s exploration of maturing from girl to woman.
    The second riff on this theme that stood out to me was the mystical way in which Ada could seemingly manifest something if she desired it enough. I remember feeling heady with power as I grew into womanhood; quite honestly realizing the power I had over men was just by virtue of being a woman. I used it to get free drinks at the bar; Ada used it to grow herself a “glove, pucker, pouch.” YOU KNOW THE PART. But she also used this power at the end of the story, as Samson takes over Lorraine’s body because she “dreamt him too strong and called up some strangeness.” She even manifests “heart,” developing some human emotions, with loneliness being her ultimate undoing.

  84. OK, first attempt got eaten.

    Loved it. Samson and Olivia were both messed up.

    It reminded me in some ways of What Should Be Wild, and the Jenny Pox books.

    Unrelated to this book, but related to the book club – I purchased a Kobo e-reader through Bookshop Santa Cruz a few years back, and buy nearly all of my ebooks through their website. My understanding is that it’s not as profitable as physical books, but better than Amazon. 🙂

  85. As of Saturday, Feb 29 at 11:34 EST, your link to https://nowherebookshop.indiecommerce.com/fantastic-strangelings-book-club

    fails with the error message: Sorry, 23.92.127.42 has been banned.

    a) Time to contact indiecommerce and find out what’s happened and how to get your site un-banned and
    b) Show your gratitude and appreciation by granting me honorary membership in the club.

    Just a suggestion.

    (That is so strange! That number is your IP address (I can see it when you leave a comment) so it looks like Indiecommerce banned you? It might be a fluke thing if you share an IP address with a spammer (it’s rare but it happens) and perhaps you got banned because of them. If it’s still happening by tomorrow maybe reach out to Elizabeth to see if she has any thoughts. I suspect it’s an Indie Commerce thing rather than our site personally. She’s at Elizabeth @ nowhere bookshop.com ~ Jenny)

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