Rating: 4 stars
One doesn’t expect a book called “On The Savage Side” to be a happy tale, especially once you find out that it draws upon an unsolved true crime case. I began this book expecting it to be a dark read, and I was not disappointed. I was, however, surprised by the depth of the characters and the poetic descriptions used to create them. This is a bleak tale of women facing poverty, addiction, abuse, and crime and there is not much to cling to if you are looking for positivity. However, the imagination of the main characters and their ability to use it to escape their reality made for a fascinating albeit depressing story. The vivid imagery facilitated by the language the author utilized made me feel like I was truly in that world, and I could feel the disappointments and pain of all of the characters, but especially the main characters, twin sisters Arcade and Daffodil.
While it’s clear from early on in the story that the main characters will not escape their unfortunate and predictable fate, I nonetheless found myself rooting for them to find happiness.
As the story progresses, we see examples of the various ways humans escape reality, especially when dealing with extensive trauma. The importance of women supporting women, even when they have nothing, is highlighted as well.
There was a twist at the end that I didn’t see coming and added a whole other dimension to the story as I reflected on the events leading up to it. I am not usually a fan of the unhappy ending, but you do know what you are getting into with this novel and the downtrodden but hopeful characters, mystery and true crime elements, and descriptive language that puts you right in the scene made this a very compelling read for me and I found myself thinking about it for a long time after finishing it.
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