Novels in November: Madapple

Synopsis according to Goodreads:
"Aslaug is an unusual young woman. Her mother has brought her up in near isolation, teaching her about plants and nature and language—but not about life. Especially not how she came to have her own life, and who her father might be.

When Aslaug’s mother dies unexpectedly, everything changes. For Aslaug is a suspect in her mother’s death. And the more her story unravels, the more questions unfold. About the nature of Aslaug’s birth. About what she should do next.

About whether divine miracles have truly happened. And whether, when all other explanations are impossible, they might still happen this very day.

Addictive, thought-provoking, and shocking, Madapple is a page-turning exploration of human nature and divine intervention—and of the darkest corners of the human soul.

Madapple is a fiction, but beyond that it's hard to put it into a genre. Part murder mystery, part psychological thriller, part treatise on religion, part botany lecture, the story centers around Aslaug, whose sanity is called into question. And yet, given her narrative voice and analytical nature, I never questioned Aslaug's sanity myself. 

I was expecting something different, and so Madapple was a disappointment to me. It's not poorly written- it's lengthy in descriptions and religious information, and a bit dry in that regard, but it doesn't rely on tropes or deus ex machina to pull the story along.

However, it's slow, and each of the 'twists' I had figured out early on (I don't think I'm exceptionally smart- I think Meldrum gave us too many hints for it to be a true 'twist'). Aslaug is a unique voice, smart but naive in the ways of humans, but not a relatable or captivating one.

Overall, this was an enjoyable, though not terribly stimulating, book. I'd recommend it for fans of florid fiction, those who enjoy the study of ancient religions, and fans of psychological mysteries and religious mysteries.

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