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Follow Me to Ground

3.58  ·  Rating details ·  6,962 ratings  ·  1,524 reviews
A haunted, surreal debut novel about an otherworldly young woman, her father, and her lover that culminates in a shocking moment of betrayal - one that upends our understanding of power, predation, and agency.

Ada and her father, touched by the power to heal illness, live on the edge of a village where they help sick locals—or “Cures”—by cracking open their damaged bodies
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Hardcover, 208 pages
Published January 21st 2020 by Scribner (first published May 31st 2018)
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Madeline I slightly disagree with Elyse’s take. I think Olivia was the instigator of the incestuous relationship - he mentions the shift when she was thirteen …moreI slightly disagree with Elyse’s take. I think Olivia was the instigator of the incestuous relationship - he mentions the shift when she was thirteen and he ten, and its in the undertone of how he thought he was free of her when she got married - that she forced the “relationship”. Olivia telling Ada she’s worried what he’d do to a girl is a way to try to disgust Ada, because she knows Samson likes her. She wants to ruin anything for him that isn’t herself. So, yes Olivia was alluding that he was a pedophile, but I think that was a manipulation on her part. (less)
Natalie Yes - the "sexual" content is fantastical and part of the world that Rainsford creates; it's akin to how Toni Morrison writes sex, which I think is en…moreYes - the "sexual" content is fantastical and part of the world that Rainsford creates; it's akin to how Toni Morrison writes sex, which I think is entirely appropriate for a mature high schooler. It's a little bit gory but the gore is described with otherworldly language.(less)

Community Reviews

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Average rating 3.58  · 
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 ·  6,962 ratings  ·  1,524 reviews


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Nilufer Ozmekik
Dec 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is crazy! This is disturbing! This is really scary!
I want to put in the freezer! I want to hide myself in the closet and count to 5 million to get rid of the damage the book gave me. I’m going to chuck because I’m chicken and deserved to be fried and served at fancy Soul Food places (I’m coward but still five starred fancy coward!)

I’m giving four stars and praying loudly (already I organized my own congregation circling me because of my usage of so many holly words) the spirits of Ada and
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karen
Oct 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
the giveaway for this book ends SO SOON! get there!!

https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/sh...

as a reader, sometimes you come across books that feel bespoke, and this is one of mine. like Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance, it’s fabulism done perfectly; establishing a unique, intricately detailed world and layering it over our own. this one drew me in effortlessly with its unusual premise, breezy lyricism and immersive storytelling; transporting me deeply into its clefted bosom under some kind o
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Amy Imogene Reads
What a twisted nightmare. A fairytale you'd never want to meet.

Writing: ★★★★★
Concept: ★★★★
Pacing: ★★★★★
Warnings?: Very graphic in the medical sense

I almost hesitated to rate this the full 5 stars because it's such a twisted speculative novel and sometimes I wonder what that says about me, but at the same time I think it's one of the most singular things I've ever read, so sue me. I loved it.

Follow Me to Ground is witchy, spooky, medically graphic, and disturbing. It follows the life of two non-
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Charlotte May
“We give them any cause to get frightened and they’ll forget how much they need us.”

Ok, this was just a tad too weird for me.

Ada and her father are healers. But not the usual kind you’d expect. They aren’t human, and their methods are frightening at times.

The humans they heal - referred to as ‘cures’ are buried in the ground in their back garden, sometimes for days. And when they resurface they are recovered.

When Ada meets a local boy and strikes up a relationship, her father is worried. T
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Gabby
This book was so strange and I can’t stop thinking about it

Reading vlog with more thoughts: https://youtu.be/rv-TLDKUE80
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Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer
Re-read following its long listing for the 2019 Republic of Consciousness Prize and now longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize.

Now that she was open the room had filled up with the tearing sound, the clotting was given off a smell of blueberries left to long on the stove. I started humming, feeling my way towards the pitch of her hurt. The baby was sleeping; I could see its little shoulders through the curtain of her womb when I lifted the bladder aside.

Once the humming and the tearing bl
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Cortney LaScola Hornyak -  The Bookworm Myrtle Beach
Follow Me to Ground has to be one of the strangest books I have ever read... but I loved it. The author's writing was beautiful, and the story was so different. Once I started it, I read it every second I had a chance until it was done.

I would have liked more explanation about everything (literally everything) but I think that is part of the magic and the draw of this book.

And that cover!
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Jenna ❤ ❀  ❤
Mar 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
This is a weird yet beautifully written book.

With everything going on right now, I had a hard time concentrating which diminished my enjoyment of it somewhat. I think it might have been 5 stars if I'd read it at another time.
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Fiona
Feb 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
Meet Ada and her father. Unlike you and me, they're not Cures - people who come to them to be fixed, people who come to them for a nice rest in the Ground. No, they're not even really very like us, but given the work they do, most folks are willing to overlook it.

This was a very odd, visceral sort of a book, and though it's short, I think it's the perfect length. It's unsettling and a little ambiguous throughout, but details and certainty would have ruined this particular story - if storytellin
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Lark Benobi
As with Fever Dream by Samanta Schweblin, and The Vegetarian by Han Kang, and The Book of X by Sarah Rose Etter--to mention three other hauntingly beautiful books that this novel reminds me of in the best ways--a reader can't claim to understand everything that happens here, but the impact is undeniably powerful, and undeniably female.

Authors of the books I mentioned in my review are all deliberately using the irrational, and the unexplained, to describe experiences and feelings where logic does
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Chelsea Humphrey
Dec 30, 2019 marked it as dnf-lost-interest
Thank you Goodreads HQ for gifting me this gorgeous book! <3
Hannah
Feb 01, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I adored this – the writing, the storyline, the absolute bonkers weirdness, and most of all the wonderful main character. This book is super weird and the prose is flowery enough to sometimes hide what is going on, to really, really work for me. It is also a deeply disturbing book, both in the central imagery of a ground that needs to be fed and of healers opening up their patients and then putting them into the earth to heal and in the casual horror of the main character’s relationship – a horr ...more
Renee Godding
4/5 stars

I had no idea what I was getting into when starting Follow me to Ground, and I won't lie: throughout the first 50 pages I was utterly lost. This incredibly unique magical realism debut shifts the balance between familiar and alien far towards the latter, with its story surrounding a not-quite-human father and daughter, using something between witchcraft, magic and medicine to heal the sick in their neighbouring village. It had me confused and a little unsettled at first, but it pulled
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Lucy
Oct 01, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5*** rounded up!

This was such a strange book and I’m not even too sure I still understand everything. It was alluring, weird and hypnotic. This also had magical realism that I’m still trying to wrap my head around.

This was a strangely beautiful book in its prose, concepts and gore. Altogether a very odd book but also lyrical. It explores desire and humanity from someone who is not- it is vividly imaginative.

3.5*** as I’m not too sure I 100% understood some of the things that were happening b
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Paul Fulcher
Now longlisted for the 2019 Desmond Elliot Prize

I peeled back the wet slap of her womb. The baby was still in evidence, like the unevenness to grass where some animal has stopped to graze.

Longlisted for the 2019 Republic of Consciousness Prize

The judge’s nomination:
Sue Rainsford achieves something quite uncanny: believability. Her characters are not human (as “normally conceived”) but human-like creatures who live on the edge of a village and tend to the sick and dying by burying them in the gro
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Sarah
Dec 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: edelweiss, fantasy
I am retroactively bumping it backup to 4 stars now that I am over the ending.

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, inno
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Michael Burke
Dec 16, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: horror
Wait...what? Let me read that again. Opening "Follow Me to Ground" I stumble to get my footing... as Ada relays her story it dawns that something is off-kilter. I had to pay attention to fathom what was going on.

"...Because The Ground is moving..."

Ada and her father are healers for what they call the "Cures", the local villagers. The people see them as peculiar but indispensable. The father runs through the woods like a bear. Ada steals the songs out of baby birds, although the Cures may not cho
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TraceyL
Jan 31, 2020 rated it did not like it
Shelves: fantasy
I didn't understand anything that was happening in this book. It seemed like a cool idea. People with magical healing abilities where they can essentially perform surgery without cutting the patient open. Or did they cut them open? I didn't understand that part either.

I didn't like the writing or any of the characters. I feel like the author was trying to get some sort of point across, but I have no idea what that was. I'm sure I'll forget that I read this book at all.
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Emma Garland
Feb 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
Ada and her father are healers. Healers of the strangest sort. Not entirely human themselves they are born from the ground. Made from natural substances. Created from nature. They live alone at the edge of the village, the only two beings of their kind. They refer to humans as ‘cures’, healing being the only time they ever have contact with them. Locals make their appointments when they are sick or hurt that are then paid for afterwards. They leave feeling better than they ever have. Ada learnt ...more
Eric Anderson
Jan 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
Ada and her father live a self-contained existence and run a highly unusual healing practice. While they may appear human they are not as Ada was born from the Ground and at night her father shifts into a wild carnivorous animal who hunts on all fours. Since she is not biologically a female when Ada takes a local man as a lover she literally must grow genitals in order to consummate their relationship. “Follow Me To Ground” could be described as a book of magical realism or a debut novel which c ...more
Tatyana
Feb 26, 2020 rated it liked it
I’ve seen so many reviews saying this was scary and *yawn* I beg to differ. Yes it was a good entertaining story but not something to be scared of in my opinion.
Jennifer (Insert Lit Pun)
This is such a wildly creative book. It shares the imaginative elements of Karen Russell (but imo is much less overwritten on the line level), the body horror elements of Sarah Schmidt's See What I Have Done, and the slippery isolation of Reasons She Goes to the Woods by Deborah Kay Davies. Strange and lush and a super fast read. This type of story only rarely succeeds beyond the length of a short story, and Rainsford just about maintains this very brittle and hazy world. ...more
Anna
Feb 29, 2020 rated it it was ok
This books verges on three stars, as it is compelling reading at the start and evokes this natural magical father and daughter in a small community so well. I didn't find it scary or unsettling at all, but enjoyed this macabre magic world of nearly-human healers.

I enjoyed reading the first half, but in the end it falls short on character content, the plot is rather ham-fisted (how many times can we beaten over the head that incest is going on) and by the end I was just flipping pages to get thro
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Frank Phillips
Feb 12, 2020 rated it liked it
Listened to this one on audio-book in less than a day. Very unique, original, crazy, far out there story. Maybe because I listened on audio and didn't absorb every single word, but I was very confused with this one, especially towards the end. Not really sure what happened the last few chapters, and maybe that was intentional, not sure. Sometimes there can be weird and original with it still being a successful read, but there's a thin line to where it's just too bizarre to the extent it's not en ...more
Kate
Mar 08, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2021
2.5/5stars

This was far too flowery for me, far to metaphorical and pretty and I just didn't care enough lol a bit spooky but not really, a bit weird but not enough, and predictable.
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The Captain
Jan 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Ahoy there me mateys!  I received a copy of this fantasy eArc from the publisher in exchange for me honest musings . . .

This book is strange, wonderful, otherworldly, and hard to categorize.  Literary fiction?  Fantasy?  Magical realism?  Horror?  Depends on the reader.  I don't know who  to recommend this book to but I loved it.  The basic premise is that there is a person, Ada, who isn't completely human.  She lives with her father who isn't human either.  Both of them are from the Ground.  Th
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Ingerlisa
Jul 25, 2020 rated it it was ok
I don’t really know what I just read ?

An odd horror magical realism about 2 healers, a father and his daughter. I wanted to read more and honestly couldn’t put this book down but it wasn’t scary nor was it that creepy the medical descriptions were graphic but not grotesque. The characters I wanted to get to know deeper but instead only knew them at a surface level.

All in all, it was ok I just don’t think it went anywhere or did anything for me.
Bonnie
Dec 19, 2019 marked it as dnf
DNF @ 29%

This is one of those books that’s going to be amazing for a certain kind of reader. I am not that certain kind of reader. This was magical realism with a dash of weirdness but the more you keep reading you realize that the lid must’ve come off and the whole bottle of weirdness ended up in there. The utter strangeness of this reminded me a lot of The Library at Mount Char, so if you were a fan of that, definitely pick this one up. (That one also didn’t work for me. lol) Here’s a quick su
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Hugh
Longlisted for the Republic of Consciousness Prize 2019

My penultimate book from the RofC longlist and the strangest one yet. It is unquestionably highly imaginative and well written, but the whole thing is a little too distanced from reality for my taste, like a magic realist nightmare without the realism.

Fortunately, my Mookse group friends have already written detailed reviews that saw more in it than I did, so I recommend these by Paul, Gumble's Yard and Neil.
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Neil
Jan 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019-rofc, 2019
I opened this novel with no idea what it was about and with no knowledge of the author. Part of the reason I didn’t know the author is that (I have since discovered) this is her first novel although she has written about many other books.

Having now read the book, I have to say that I think coming at it with no prior knowledge might be the best way to experience it. For that reason, I am going to try to avoid details of the plot apart from maybe a bit of scene setting that might creep in.

Opening
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Goodreads Librari...: Could you please combine those books? 3 8 Jun 13, 2022 04:24PM  
Fantastic Strange...: Discussion for Follow Me to Ground 5 119 May 15, 2020 04:20PM  

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Sue Rainsford is a fiction and arts writer based in Dublin. A graduate of Trinity College, she completed her MFA in writing and literature at Bennington College, Vermont. She is a recipient of the VAI/DCC Critical Writing Award, the Arts Council Literature Bursary Award, and a MacDowell Colony Fellowship. When it was first published, Follow Me to Ground won the Kate O’Brien Award and was longliste ...more

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