They Fly Silent by Barb Lanell, 2021
Cass’s sister Meg
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The Plot (from Goodreads):
She should have been prepared, after all, her peculiar great-grandmother warned her of the family curse, but that’s when she believed in the mystical stories of the seventh tribe and petal people. Not anymore. Cassandra Cleopatra Collard is all grown-up. Grown and in trouble.
At twenty-five Cass finds herself in the tabloids of the local gossip column, accused of starting a strange, freakish fire, along with bizarre, cultist behavior unbefitting to her bible belt small town. Cass has no memory of the incident, just a gash on her palm in the shape of a seven. Because of her declining mental state and lack of memory, the judge orders Cass to undergo psychiatric evaluation. She has twelve months to uncover the truth. Dr. Telford, a psychiatrist, helps her examine her upbringing which throws Cass into psychological turmoil. Memories surface which sets off a series of events both harrowing, heartwarming and disturbing. Cass must pull back the curtains of her childhood and face the secrets she left there, or succumb to a curse that may, or may not exist, and along the way, prove her innocence.
If you are a fan of character-driven novels with lots of introspection, then this is the book for you!
I enjoyed Cass’s growth throughout the book, as she struggled to retrieve memories that would help her explain her actions. She learns to open up to her therapist instead of covering her pain with sarcasm, and it’s clear how much therapy helps her throughout the book. I found the clashing themes of christianity and tribal worship to be extremely interesting, especially as Cass struggled to reconcile her beliefs between the two.
I took a chance on this southern gothic novel as this genre is outside of my normal wheelhouse, and unfortunately it wasn’t for me. I’m more of a plot-driven kind of girl, but this one was VERY character-driven. I think some of the finer points of the character analysis may have gone over my head.
TW: mental illness, rape, dysfunctional relationships, emotional abuse, family dynamics