First and foremost a huge thank you to Goodreads and St. Martin's Press for the giveaway - winning this book was a huge bright spot in my month, and I can't wait to press it into the hands of as many people as possible come October!
This was one of the most beautifully written stories I've read in years. McLemore's prose is unparalleled in its ability to ensnare the senses with rich metaphors, striking imagery, and language so sumptuous it almost feels like you are reading poetry. I found myself re-reading passages just for sheer enjoyment. The writing is that phenomenal.
The story itself has the feel of an old world folktale, drenched in superstition and filled with dream-like logic to match the surreal imagery. It reminded me a bit of Laura Ruby's Bone Gap, with a similar blend of fairytale influences mixed with magical realism. It is sensual, emotional, and (I hesitate to use this phrase because whenever I see it on the back of a book I run away) heart-wrenching. These characters grabbed my heart and refused to let go, even as they twisted it to pieces. I've never seen issues of gender identity handled so deftly, and with such raw honesty. Reading about Sam's journey was both devastating and heartening with each twist and turn. These were characters I fell in love with, and rooted for, all the way until the end.
If you like fairy tales, folk lore, love stories, beautiful writing, or stories about people searching for their own personal truths, you should give this book a try. And if you like all of the above prepare to love this book deeply.