A haunted, surreal debut novel about an otherworldly young woman, her father, and her lover that culminates in a shocking moment of betrayal—one that upends our understanding of power, predation, and agency.
Ada and her father, touched by the power to heal illness, live on the edge of a village where they help sick locals—or “Cures”—by cracking open their damaged bodies or temporarily burying them in the reviving, dangerous Ground nearby. Ada, a being both more and less than human, is mostly uninterested in the Cures, until she meets a man named Samson. When they strike up an affair, to the displeasure of her father and Samson’s widowed, pregnant sister, Ada is torn between her old way of life and new possibilities with her lover—and eventually comes to a decision that will forever change Samson, the town, and the Ground itself.
Follow Me to Ground is fascinating and frightening, urgent and propulsive. In Ada, award-winning author Sue Rainsford has created an utterly bewitching heroine, one who challenges conventional ideas of womanhood and the secrets of the body. Slim but authoritative, Follow Me to Ground lingers long after its final page, pulling the reader into a dream between fairy tale and nightmare, desire and delusion, folktale and warning.
Sue Rainsford is a fiction and arts writer based in Dublin. A graduate of Trinity College, she completed her MFA in writing and literature at Bennington College, Vermont. She is a recipient of the VAI/DCC Critical Writing Award, the Arts Council Literature Bursary Award, and a MacDowell Colony Fellowship. When it was first published, Follow Me to Ground won the Kate O’Brien Award and was longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Award and the Republic of Consciousness Award.
“An astonishing debut heralding the career of an exciting new writer. Strange, lyrical, and arresting, this novel will draw readers into its extraordinary spell.” —Kirkus, starred review
“Brimming with dark folklore and underworld energy, Rainsford’s stellar debut features a memorable heroine chafing against her monstrous isolation…Rainsford excels in describing the grotesque beauty of…alternative medicine in which the humming healers feel their “way to the pitch of [the patient’s] hurt”…This is a subtle, unsettling novel in which desire is an ineradicable sickness that can be preferable to health.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review
“Haunting ... With an evocative novel bending fantasy into a universe of subtle horror and bodies cracking open to be healed, Rainsford pulls the reader into a frightening, tangible world of monstrosity, humanity, and healing." —Booklist
"Like all the best horror, it’s an impressive balancing act between judicious withholding and unnerving reveals: you don’t want to go into it knowing too much ... Always singularly and entirely itself." —The Guardian
"Beautiful and terrifying." —The Sunday Times
"Sue Rainsford’s Follow Me to Ground is a triumph of imagination and myth-bending—a weird, tender, haunted and deeply affecting spectacle, equal parts beauty and horror, and unlike anything you will read this year." —Téa Obreht, author of The Tiger's Wife and Inland
“A tangled, gnarled, wonderfully original, strange, beautiful beast of a book. I will be reading everything Rainsford ever writes.” —Daisy Johnson, author of Everything Under
"Sue Rainsford has written a gorgeous and unsettling novel. Follow Me To Ground is a fresh and primal exploration of bodies and healing, of the fight between one's calling and most ardent desires. A stunningly original debut." —Megan Mayhew Bergman, author of Birds of a Lesser Paradise and Almost Famous Women
"Sue Rainsford’s Follow Me to Ground carries both the great force of myth and the clarity of song. In Ada, her father, and in their shape-shifting, unforgettable journey, we are given a merciless chronicle of this bright, wounded world. This is a novel that burns beautifully, that dives to levels we are blind to, and soars." —Paul Yoon, author of Once the Shore and The Mountain
“Sue Rainsford’s talent is fierce, palpable, and hypnotic … a dazzlingly troubling dream.” —Colin Barrett, author of Young Skins