On the Savage Side by Tiffany McDaniel
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Born into a hell of addiction and prostitution, can twins Arcade and Daffodil Doggs escape their fates and live a normal life?
I loved Tiffany McDaniel's previous two works, The Summer That Melted Everything and Betty, so I dropped everything when this showed up in my mailbox.
On the Savage Side contains everything I expected: characters with odd names, flowery prose, and soul crushing despair. Arc and Daffy meander through a hell created long before they were born, soon becoming mirror images of their drug addicted prostitute mother and Aunt Clover.
Born out of the unsolved murders of the Chillicothe Six, On the Savage Side is a statement both about the power of women and their place in a world made by men. Arc and Daffy are caught in a whirlwind spawned long before they were born, disposable women in a factor town. There's an undercurrent of hopelessness and powerlessness to the story. Poor Arc and Daffy never had a chance.
Even though I started reading this the night before Thanksgiving, I was finished before breakfast on Black Friday morning. The plight of the Chillicothe street girls was a gripping read. As they were pulled out of the river one by one, I wondered if any of them would be alive at the end.
Speaking of the ending, it's not cut and dry and I could see that disappointing people. However, this isn't one of those airport thrillers so anything goes. There's no unnecessary romantic subplot and no one gets carted off to jail. There's only grim finality. I'm reminded of Jim Thompson and Flannery O'Connor once again, both in the prose and the final fate of some of the characters.
Four out of five stars.
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