On the Savage Side
W & N
Six women – mothers, daughters, sisters – gone missing. When the first is found floating dead in the river, it reveals the disturbing truth of a small Ohio town. Inspired by the unsolved murders of the Chillicothe Six, this harrowing and haunting novel tells the story of two sisters, both of whom could be the next victims. From the internationally-bestselling author of Betty.
Arcade and Daffodil are twin sisters born one minute apart. With their fiery red hair and thirst for an escape, they forge an unbreakable bond nurtured by both their grandmother’s stories and their imaginations. Together, they create a world where a patch of grass reveals an archaeologist’s dig, the smoke emerging from the local paper mill becomes the dust rising from wild horses galloping in the ground, and an abandoned 1950s convertible transforms into a time machine that can take them anywhere.
But the two sisters can’t escape the generational chaos that grips their family. Growing up in the shadow of the town, the sisters cling tight to one another. As an adult, Arcade wrestles with these memories of her life, just as a local woman is discovered drowned in the river. Soon, more bodies are found. While her friends disappear around her, Arcade is forced to reckon with the past while the killer circles ever closer. Arcade’s promise to keep herself and her sister safe becomes increasingly desperate while the powerful riptide of the savage side becomes more difficult to resist.
Drawing from the true story of women killed in her native Ohio, acclaimed novelist and poet Tiffany McDaniel has written a powerful literary testament and fearless elegy for missing women everywhere.
I was drawn to read this book purely because it was written by Tiffany McDaniel. Read Tiffany’s works and be consumed by the power of her lyrical words, her ability to create characters that you will care for, to explore landscapes that are real and full of history and listen to the voices of the women who have existed in those spaces. This book did not disappoint.
Set aside a weekend and immerse yourself in the lives of Daffy and Arc. Bleak, grim but always (almost always…well maybe not, this narrative is very dark ) you can turn the situation over and look at the “beautiful side” – what an amazing attitude.
Mamaw Milkweed shares (p50/51)” Listen up girls I am going to tell you something very important. Something my mother told me. In life there is a savage side and a beautiful side….all the things that make you happiest. All the things that are far from the fires of men”. ..As the three of us felt our granny squares, their multicoloured rows bright against the black background… “Beautiful things happen on this side. But on this side” She flipped the afghan over…..”look here girls'” she ran her fingers through the yarn ends dangling from the back of the squares. “This is the savage side. See how the strands hang loose?…It is empty of flowers, your horses, your beautiful goddesses…what are the most terrible things you can think of…that is the savage side.”
She stepped over to the cabinet that held her crafting supplies and picked up a large needle with an eyehole big enough for things thicker than thread. Starting with one of the squares along the edge of the afghan, she began to weave the loose strands of yarn back into the squares.
“When the savage side gets too much,” she said, “you can take a needle and weave the strands in.”
“A needle?” My sister looked at it.
“You can make the savage side beautiful with a needle.”‘ (emphasis added by me)
Beautiful, horrific, lyrical, bleak, uplifting, dark, illuminating…profound.
Thank you Tiffany McDaniel for caring.
I really like that imagery – an afghan to show the good and savage sides of life, Carol. I really pictured it as I read the passage you shared. It sounds like the sort of story, too, that you don’t want to rush through, or you might miss some of that imagery. It certainly sounds powerful, that’s for sure.
Powerful, illuminating, sad, so beautifully written… I could have written an essay on friendship, feminism, addiction, intergenerational trauma, and looking at life “from the beautiful side”. I hope you get a chance to read this one Margot
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