Rootwork - by Tracy Cross
I want to start off by focusing the start of this review on Tracy herself. Quite aside from the fact that this book is on Mother Horror’s Dark Hart label, Tracy has received both the HWA scholarship from hell for 2022, a Ladies of Horror fiction grant, and a 2019 new voices fellowship from the emerging writer’s festival. This isn’t a flash in the pan, this is the culmination of a studied application of writing that a writer brings to their game.
And it pays.
Rootwork is written from the varying povs of three black sisters living in Louisiana in 1889. Tracy nails the language, details, and atmosphere. It’s fully immersive. You might as well be there. This is a book that transports you from the first page into the easy-flowing and lovingly competitive lives of the three sisters, Pee Wee, Betty, and Ann. Each of the sisters has a radically different personality, and added to that mix are a dominating mother, a loving if somewhat irresponsible father, and the mysterious Aunt and her HooDoo.
It’s fantastic. I was totally committed within pages and loved every second in the novel. I will say out front, that the horror here stays backstage – there are accounts and inferred rape accusations about the Sheriff, who does nothing when confronted with a murder (guilty through negligence) that impacts the family. Though we do not see firsthand any incidents of rape (and later an inferral that not is all that is seems with the sisters), we do witness the murder negligence, and later there is a moment in the book that is fundamentally horrific but is presented as natural justice, and for me was handled tastefully. The gore, the shock – the sudden dread when the pit of your stomach drops out of your body in cold realization – or seeing brutality or physical attacks - the things that normally make horror "horrific" for me – aren’t here. But I couldn’t have cared less.
The story here is king, and it’s a work of love. I was totally committed to the girls and their world, and their wonderful Aunt. This was woefully short, Tracy. I love the fact you had this on Dark Hart as your debut novel. What are you going to come up with next? Where are you going to show us?
The sky’s the limit.
An easy 5 ⭐ ‘s and I didn’t want to leave the sisters in the end.
I was kindly gifted a review copy of Rootwork. My thanks to both Sadie Hartmann and Tracy Cross for the copy
You can buy Rootwork by clicking on the appropriate Amazon link, below:
You can visit Tracy's website, HERE
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