Set in an Alpine town “high above the rest of the world,” Vera describes her life in this somewhat utopian society where she is a motherless girl. Where Vera lives, some of the young mothers simply disappear. They refer to these disappearances as “the affliction,” which is presented as a very natural occurrence and more celebrated than feared. Once a mother is gone, all photos of her are burned. Her possessions are taken away. Otherwise, the lives of the residents seem fairly normal. When the town has a visitor, which is rare, the residents have a fierce protectiveness of their way of life and believe no one from elsewhere could ever understand it. Yet when Vera grows up, marries and has her own child, she experiences such a deep love for her daughter that she develops a new fear that she could be the next mother to vanish.
Yes, this is not your average novel. Elsewhere is a dystopian tale. And in this work of speculative fiction by Alexis Schaitkin, you either accept what is happening or you won’t make it through its two-hundred or so pages. Once I decided to read it, as this is definitely not my usual type of book, I was moved by its theme of a mother’s love. As a mother, it is hard not to be. Here’s my favorite line, "You do not get to keep what is sweetest to you; you only get to remember it from the vantage point of having lost it." It’s much more than a dark fairy tale.
If authors like Margaret Atwood appeal to you, you’ll surely find this book right up your alley. I’m glad I gave this book a chance. It’s beautifully written and you will ponder its allegory. Or, perhaps you'll be left shaking your head. It's worth a look.
Many thanks to Celadon Books for the opportunity to read Elsewhere in advance of its publication.
Rated 3.75 out of 5 stars.
Speculative Fiction / Dystopia / Literary Fiction.
Publication Date: June 28, 2022.
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