Booklist Reviews 2012 September #1
Glinting at times with the simple, ominous beauty of a murder ballad, at other times this novel wallows in trauma and threatens to sink. It is told in four parts, and all but one achieve a quick, fierce poignancy; the second, longest part becomes unwieldy and unbalances the whole. This part is told by Ginny, a young bride in antebellum Kentucky. Married at 14, she moves to her husband's pig farm and descends into a nightmare of violence, slavery, incest, and pedophilia. She is abused; she becomes complicit in the abuse of others; she becomes the abused again. The novel's initial affecting naïveté and simplicity shifts, during her winding testimony, toward an indulgent, Faulknerian delirium that bloats and obscures excessively. One wishes the other parts—a brief, beautifully told tragedy seemingly unconnected to the body of the novel, and later the perspectives of one of the former slave girls Ginny abused and was abused by, and of that woman's nephew after her death—might have been given some of the space that was granted in excess to Ginny. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.
PW Reviews 2012 September #1
Hunt tells an unforgettable tale of the savagery of antebellum America in his haunting newest (after The Impossibly). Married off at a young age to her mother's second cousin, the teenaged Ginny quickly discovers that her new husband's Kentucky pig farm isn't the bucolic idyll she'd been promised. Linus quickly devolves from promising spouse to abusive master of his wife as well as two of his slaves, Cleome and Zinnia, whom the lonely Ginny befriends. But Linus isn't content to man the slaughter alone: "He said if we were all going to eat pig… then we ought to kill it… The years went by and we ate and ate and so we killed and killed." Eventually, Linus's reign of violence impels Ginny to starting raising her own hand against Cleome and Zinnia. But when Linus suddenly dies, the slave girls turn the tables on their brutal mistress and keep her shackled in a shed next to Linus's decaying body. Though the chronologically disjointed story is relayed through the points of view of several characters, Hunt deftly maintains an unsettling tone and a compelling narrative that will linger with readers long after the last page. (Oct.)[Page ]. Copyright 2012 PWxyz LLC