by Alyson Hagy
Narrator: Shannon McManus
Length: 5 hours and 33 minutes
Genres: Dystopian, Science Fiction
Purchase*: Amazon | Audible *affiliate
Narration: 4.5 cups
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.
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
[bctt tweet=”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.” username=”kimbacaffeinate”]
Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
I will have to put this on my TBR list. Sounds great!
I look forward to your thoughts.
I am feeling a bit torn on this one. I love the sound of a book with the power of words to it, and it also having such beautiful writing and so much more depth the more you think about it after reading it. But I also really don’t enjoy reading magical realism :/ Hmm…
Love the review
I love that cover and can see why you were drawn in. Love the review.
Thanks Sherry! Have a lovely weekend.
I like the sound of it, and yes I have had those when I sat down I realised there was so much more to it
Yay..it isn’t just me.
Gotta love when a book becomes so much more when you sit and reflect on it. This sounds really interesting.
Right and the more I reflect the more I love it. I will probably relisten.
I saw the cover and thought horror. Science fiction / dystopian is much more interesting to me, even tho sometimes they feel a bit like horror. Anne – Books of My Heart
Yes, I loved this one Anne.
I’m intrigued that you never even know her name. Thanks a bunch for sharing this one. The synopsis hooked me immediately. The cover is compelling and it sounds great!
I hope you try it!
Tyler H. Jolley
What a great review, Kimba. It really sounds like a truly awesome plot.
Oh yes, this different haunting tale with its folklore tones sounds just the thing and I already enjoy McManus’ narration work.
Yes, I will listen to her again.
From this post, I get the impression that this is a really “deep” read. Thanks for sharing.
It makes you think and transports you.
I love the sound of this one – many thanks for an excellent review, Kimberly.
I hope you get a chance to try it.
That sure sounds different from what I usually read. I like the sound of it for sure.
It stayed with me. I like that.
Laurie | Bark
That cover does draw me in for a closer look. Is that a dog in her arms? I’ll be looking for this one on audio dog or no dog.
There are dogs in this story. Not necessarily cute and cuddly one..but they live on the homestead with her.
The cover put me off but your review makes me want to try this short, scary and interesting sounding read. Thanks Kim
The cover is simplistic, but fits once you read the story.
Very cool cover, indeed! That’s so interesting that the MC is never given a name. I kind of like that though!
Right. It retrospect it wasn’t important.
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).
She drops you into this world and through the characters and prose brings a moment to life.
When I first saw this cover, I thought romantic comedy and then I did a double take and thought “that’s an axe” and knew it was something else. I’m going to have to give this a try. You really have me intrigued.
Your last paragraph about our ability to create change resonated within me.. This sounds like something I need to read. Thanks for sharing.
Glad I piqued your interest!