Scribe by Alyson Hagy

October 25th, 2018 Kimberly Review 38 Comments

25th Oct
Scribe by Alyson Hagy
Scribe
by Alyson Hagy
Narrator: Shannon McManus
Length: 5 hours and 33 minutes
Genres: Dystopian, Science Fiction
Source: Publisher
Purchase: Amazon | Audible
Goodreads
Narration: 4.5 cups
Rating: One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarHalf a Star

A haunting, evocative tale about the power of storytelling

A brutal civil war has ravaged the country, and contagious fevers have decimated the population. Abandoned farmhouses litter the isolated mountain valleys and shady hollows. The economy has been reduced to barter and trade.

In this craggy, unwelcoming world, the central character of Scribe ekes out a lonely living on the family farmstead where she was raised and where her sister met an untimely end. She lets a migrant group known as the Uninvited set up temporary camps on her land, and maintains an uneasy peace with her cagey neighbors and the local enforcer. She has learned how to make paper and ink, and she has become known for her letter-writing skills, which she exchanges for tobacco, firewood, and other scarce resources. An unusual request for a letter from a man with hidden motivations unleashes the ghosts of her troubled past and sets off a series of increasingly calamitous events that culminate in a harrowing journey to a crossroads.

Drawing on traditional folktales and the history and culture of Appalachia, Alyson Hagy has crafted a gripping, swiftly plotted novel that touches on pressing issues of our time―migration, pandemic disease, the rise of authoritarianism―and makes a compelling case for the power of stories to both show us the world and transform it.

Audiobook dystopian scifi UNIQUE

Beautifully written prose with haunting images and depth, Alyson Hagy pulled me into the dystopian world of Scribe, as narrator Shannon McManus’ southern twang enveloped me.

I will admit it was the cover and synopsis that first intrigued me. Scribe is haunting and intriguing from the language to the powerful climactic ending. Originally I saw my rating as 3.5-4 cups of coffee. As I sat to write my review and gathered my thoughts, I realized this was more… so much more.

Reasons to grab Scribe

  • You love folklore, particularly southern. You easily slip into stories surrounding the culture of those in the Appalachian Hills.
  • Hagy’s story is lyrical, with magical realism and hints of things otherworldly. We find ourselves in a dystopian world as we are introduced to a woman, who has carved out a spot in this gritty world.  She is both respected and feared by locals who aren’t happy that she allows a migrant group known as the Unwanted to squat on her land.
  • We never learn our protagonist name, but we learn about her life, and her homestead. She lives alone on her family’s farm. Here she farms the land giving a share to the local enforcer/law/bully Billy Kingery. We learn the government still exists, but in the Appalachian hollows, Billy is king.
  • She has developed skills that makes her revered. She makes paper and writes letters. People far and wide believe these letters cleanse their sins.  Despite her protests, strangers come willing to trade precious supplies like tobacco and services.  I found this barter economy interests and cannot help but ponder such a world, and my place in it.
  • A stranger named Jack Hendricks appears wanting to barter tobacco and wood for a letter. The woman is skeptical of this man, and concerned that he wants her to deliver the letter to a crossroads. The two strike a bargain and Hagy’s tale quickly pulled me in sharing glimpses of their pasts and building to an ending that still has me reflecting on it.
  • A series of events brings this woman to a crossroads.
  • The story is thought-provoking and touches on relevant issues and provides a realistic dystopian world.  However, it is the woman and the man’s story that pulled me in. The woman’s history, sister and survival were intriguing and unimaginable. The man set out to do one thing and finds so much more. Through them the author raises questions, suggests what ifs and allows the reader to ponder each outcome.
  • It’s about our ability to create change and the small ripple it creates.
  • Narrated by Shannon McManus, the story worked well on audio. I thought McManus did a wonderful job with voices and capturing the tone and otherworldly elements of the story. She is a narrator I will listen to again.

You can read an excerpt @ Literary Hub

Interview and Excerpts of Scribe

Beautifully written prose with haunting images and depth, Alyson Hagy pulled me into the dystopian world of Scribe, as narrator Shannon McManus’ southern twang enveloped me. Click To Tweet

About Alyson Hagy

Alyson Hagy

Alyson Hagy grew up with on a farm in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. She is a graduate of Williams College (’82) where she twice won the Benjamin Wainwright Prize for her fiction and completed an Honors thesis under the direction of Richard Ford. She earned an MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Michigan (’85) working with George Garrett, Alan Cheuse, and Janet Kauffman. While at Michigan, she was awarded a Hopwood Prize in Short Fiction and a Roy Cowden Fellowship. Early stories were published in Sewanee Review, Crescent Review, and Virginia Quarterly Review. In 1986, Stuart Wright published her first collection of fiction, Madonna On Her Back.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

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About Kimberly
Kimberly is a coffee loving book addict who reads and listens to fictional stories in all genres. She's a self-professed Whovian, as well as a Supernatural, and Sherlock Holmes junkie, She enjoys sharing books, tips, recipes and hosting the Sunday Post. The coffee is always on and she is ready to chat...Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

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38 Responses to “Scribe by Alyson Hagy”

  1. Tanya @ Girl Plus Books

    Wow, what an interesting premise. Dystopian + magical realism is a blend I haven’t encountered before. It’s impressive that Hagy managed to tell such a rich story in such a short amount of time (5.5 hours/176 pages).