Book Review: Follow Me To Ground by Sue Rainsford

Follow Me to Ground by Sue Rainsford

Rating:  ★★★★

This book is so weird.  I mean that in the best way possible.  I don’t even know how to go about describing it, because it’s just that weird.  Witchy healer does witchy things?  Witchy healer starts an affair with a guy who might not be so upstanding himself and chaos ensues?  Is she good?  Is she not so good?  No one knows.  Certainly not this reader.

It’s like this: Ada starts out seeming like a perfectly sweet, innocent young girl, with some peculiar abilities.  She cures illnesses, which she learned to do from her father.  A man named Samson from the village begins an affair with her.  Her father is not enthused.  Neither, it seems, is his sister.  Throughout this affair, we begin catching glimpses into something darker lurking beneath the surface.  Maybe Ada is not so innocent as she seems.  Maybe Samson’s not either.  Maybe it’s both of them.  Maybe it’s everyone else.  I’m still not sure.

But I think that’s what makes it interesting.  I’ve put off writing this review for probably two weeks now because I still don’t know how I feel about it except to say that I mostly enjoyed it.  The writing is strong and the pages breeze by.  The plot is meandering- not always my favorite- but I think it works here because it’s only 200 or so pages long to begin with.

The magic is confounding, and not too in your face.  It seems like a subtle but necessary element.  If you’re squeamish (like myself), I’m just giving you a heads up, this book is no picnic.  The way the healing is done… it gets graphic.

I read Imaginary Friend not too long ago, and complained that literary horror wasn’t something I wanted to revisit.  Well, I feel like I did accidentally revisit it here, and apparently it does work in small doses.

The ending is ambiguous- we’re left to draw our own conclusions about everything that takes place in those last few pages.  It annoyed me upon finishing, but it’s also the reason I’ve found this so haunting.

Follow Me To Ground releases on January 21, 2020 and can be found on GoodReads or preordered on Amazon.  Thank you to the publisher and Edelweiss for the digital ARC.

Top Ten Tuesday: Unpopular Bookish Opinions


Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

This week’s topic is unpopular bookish opinions, and while I’m sure my list of these is infinite, most of them apply to individual books and aren’t very generalized.  I’m also scared to write this post and offend my blogging buddies.  (Asking forgiveness and apologizing in advance.)

Historical fiction is a lot like fantasy.  On the surface, they seem like polar opposites, but I feel like historical fiction pre 1700’s has a lot in common with fantasy, and that becomes truer the farther back in time you go.  Sure, they’d be low fantasy and there will never be any outright magic, but how many fantasies are inspired by actual mythology?  Actual history?  I love historical fiction that feels like it could be fantasy and fantasy that feels like it could have happened IRL.

Witches and Wizards don’t interest me.  I realize this is tantamount to blasphemy on a blog dedicated to fantasy, but I’ve never read Harry Potter (I’m sorry okay!) have no idea which house I belong to (I probably can’t even name them all), and really have zero desire to read it beyond an academic interest in seeing what the fuss is about.  I’m not saying they are bad books- I’ve never read them.  I just prefer swords to spells.

On schools in general…. I’m not a fan of this trope either.  Protagonist attends magic/assassin/dragon rider school.  Protagonist screws up a lot and gets picked on by the rich/popular/overachieving kids, throw themselves into practice and studying and totally crush it at the final battle when they become valedictorian (or save the world).  Listen- as much fun as school is, I’d sort of rather just skip to the part where they’ve graduated and use their skills to do awesome stuff.  (Admittedly, I mostly enjoyed The Poppy War, but more so the second half than the first.)

Modern Writers Do It Better.  There I said it.  They just do.  Of course, they couldn’t have done it without all those classic writers that came before, and I’m sure I’d feel differently if I had been born 200 years ago.  Those writers were products of their times and societal context, and I’m in no way turning my nose up at them, but writers today are free to push boundaries as far as they like, and they are better for it.  Aside from that- most classics were penned by white males, and while diversity is still a huge issue in publishing, it’s a lot better than it was even fifty years ago and books will continue to improve because of it.

I don’t mind seeing the movie first.  I’ve never been that person that has to read the book first, and I’ve never really understood why this is a thing.  Whether you read it first or watch it first either way you’re going into something knowing the ending.  On top of that, the books usually are better.  So if you see the movie and like it, just think of all you have to look forward to in the book.  If you see the movie and don’t like it, you might still like the book (assuming you still want to read it).  The thing is- I love seeing a big box office film in the theaters. If I wait until I’ve read the book I might not ever get to see it on the big screen.  If I never see the movie at all I might never read the book.


I prefer ebooks over physical copies.  I know books smell great and have fantastic covers and don’t taunt me with a percentage completed on the bottom of the page- but they take up too much space!  I can’t read physical books in the dark, and I can’t carry around 400 of them in my purse.

Ambiguous endings make me insane.  If I wanted to make up my own ending I’d write my own book.  I want to know what the author intended.  I want definitive answers and conclusions.  I don’t want to be left hanging.

Ambiguous scenery is okay.  Which is to say that if an author is waxing poetic about fields of heather and the blueness of the sky I’m probably skimming most of it.  More blasphemy I know.  The thing is- I’ve probably already formed an image in my head of what the setting looks like based on one or two sentences or general tone and vibe, and reading scenery descriptions is wasting my time.  Some authors are super wordsmiths I know, but an author has to be exceptionally talented to make me appreciate words on a page just for the love of words (I’m not that reader- I like stories not words.)

Hyper-competent protagonists don’t bother me… Is it realistic when the protagonist never makes a mistake?  No.  Is it realistic when they singlehandedly knockout 10 other guys twice their height and size and escape unscathed?  No.  Does it make for a fantastic and flawed character?  Probably not.  But as long as I’m having fun I don’t really care.  (Side note- Uhtred is incredibly flawed, just don’t expect him to lose in battle.)


Audiobooks are just okay.  If I listen to a book instead of eye-reading it, I’m only going to absorb half the story.  Why bother investing the hours in a book I really wanted to read and love if I’m only going to absorb half the story?  I usually save audiobooks for non-fiction and memoirs, where if I only absorb half while I’m doing house chores, I don’t feel that bad about it.  I will say- I think audiobooks are great for short story collections where the narrative thread I have to follow is very short.  I’ve stopped listening to whole novels.  I just can’t do it.

I’m sure this is far from a comprehensive list of my unpopular opinions, but that covers a lot of it.  What unpopular opinions made your list?  Leave me a link below!


Book Review: Witchmark (The Kingston Cycle #1) by C.L. Polk

Witchmark C.L. Polk

Rating:  ★★★

Blurb (from GoodReads): C. L. Polk arrives on the scene with Witchmark, a stunning, addictive fantasy that combines intrigue, magic, betrayal, and romance.

In an original world reminiscent of Edwardian England in the shadow of a World War, cabals of noble families use their unique magical gifts to control the fates of nations, while one young man seeks only to live a life of his own.

There’s a lot of hype surrounding this book, and it’s no wonder, having been nominated for the Nebula, Locus, and Lambda Literary Award.  Having been nominated for all these awards may have been a detriment to the book in the end.  I was expecting a lot.  Something like my reaction to The Wolf in the Whale.

I’ll be honest and say that I read most of this in one day, so it certainly started on a good note.  When I finished the book, I initially rated it 4 stars, but upon reflection felt like I should lower the rating.  It had an enchanting and cozy feel to it.  It feels like historical fantasy, but it’s technically a secondary world that feels a lot like London (though Kingston makes me think of Jamaica which would have been awesome).

The world building all seems very solid on the surface.  There are rules.  It’s not a free-for-all.  There’s structure and status.  However, by the time I reached the end, I was questioning how coherent and consistent those rules really were.

Some minor world-building spoilers ahead:  The super wealthy elite are all mages from powerful families, meanwhile, witches are persecuted.  I’m confused about a few things in this regard: A) Do the non-magical people know that the wealthy elite are mages? B) If they do know, why persecute witches and not mages? and C) If they don’t know- am I expected to believe that the mages are just immune to witch trials due to their class status?.  Either B or C is fine and acceptable, but it was never really explained and I felt like it was integral enough to the plot that it needed to be explained.  I kept reading thinking the author would get around to explaining it, but as I neared the end I understood she was expecting me to take it at face-value, which I didn’t appreciate.

Another issue I have is the conflicted messaging.  There are themes in this book pertaining to slavery, and the more I reflect the more issues I have with it.  I just don’t think the overall message was clear.  We know where Miles stands on the issue, but one of the antagonists in the book isn’t clearly an antagonist (she feels more like an annoyance), and their stance on the issue is very murky.  They say they want to help, but they have extremely misguided ideas on how they should help.  It just made me feel a little icky inside.

The romance was sweet, but definitely not as major a factor as I had expected. I enjoyed it, but wished there was more.  Additionally, the ending was super abrupt and a lot of the end scenes confused me.  One minute I thought we were in one setting, the next I was in a different place.  I had to reread a few times to see where the scene transition was and still couldn’t find it.  It could have used just a few more pages.

But overall, the entertainment value is always the most important factor for me, and it delivered in that regard. I found it hard to put down, and the writing was decent.  Polk did a good job of keeping me in suspense regarding the murder mystery and some of the strange happenings around Kingston.  There are pretty high stakes.  I’m currently undecided about whether I’ll continue with the series or not.

Witchmark can be found on GoodReads and Amazon.