Saturday, 6 January 2018

{Reviewed by STELLA}


Meg Elison has followed her excellent, award-winning The Book of the Unnamed Midwife with The Book of Etta. One hundred years on, the community Nowhere is functioning in a mostly okay way. The midwives and mothers are surviving, babies are being born and the men are happy to be part of a hive. Etta is a raider. She goes beyond the gates to seek supplies, things from the old world that might be useful, to bring news back to the closed community, and to look for others - some of whom need rescuing. As in the Unnamed Midwife, life is dangerous for girl children. There’s a roaring trade in young women and children. It’s dangerous out on the road so Etta becomes Eddy when she travels. Tall and strong, she is convincing as a man, to herself as well as others. A split personality Etta/Eddy is torn - she adores Nowhere, her family and friends, but she also craves freedom from the obligation to bear children or birth them, and to be able to be herself. As Eddy travels, he comes across several communities, cautiously welcoming. They are often cult-like, with a strong centre of power and defined rules to keep order, all with the intent of repopulating the world with healthy children and creating a better society. Yet there are also many cities/townships controlled by warlords. Eddy meets the Lion, a sociopathic leader who pillages from the surrounding communities, makes deals that he breaks, keeps a harem of women as well as young boys, and has willing soldiers. When the Lion destroys everything that Etta loves, she vows revenge, and sets herself an impossible task. In a world where everyone looks out for themselves and those they care for, will anyone step up with Etta or will she have to go it alone? A gripping read set in a dystopian near-future. The third in 'The Road to Nowhere' series, The Book of Flora, is still to come.

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