Short Take: “The Unremembered Girl,” Eliza Maxwell

Pros: Raw, beautiful, vivid
Cons: Depressing & painful
Rating: 5 out of 5

Eliza Maxwell’s The Unremembered Girl sees a poor rural family take in a mysterious ‘stray’ who knows herself simply as ‘Girl’. She’s given the name Eve, and she and Henry develop an obsessive bond. She’s indelibly broken, however, and no matter what Henry does to help her, things just go further and further downhill. To further confound things, strange noises can be heard coming from a shack in the swamp that should be deserted. Henry isn’t sure what’s going on, but it can’t be good–and he can’t shake the feeling that it has something to do with Eve.

A warning: this book is incredibly painful and depressing, with a feeling of doom that pervades much of the narrative. Make sure you’re up to reading it. That said, it’s also fiercely beautiful. The visuals are vivid and intense, and the characters come to life on the page. There’s plenty of danger woven in, especially as things get intense toward the end. You’ll find interesting plot twists and surprising consequences. It’s dark enough that I’m not sure I’m happy I read it exactly, but it is an incredibly well-written book.

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