Marion and Charlotte Althouse have just lost their father. The wake of this tragedy, their mother moves them to Sawkill, a small town located on a rock in the sea. Their arrival is marked by strange noises and events circling around Marion, and the connections made immediately between both sisters and Val Moritmer–daughter of their new employer. Meanwhile, Marion’s new friend Zoey is certain that Val and her mother have something to do with the disappearances of young girls stretching back decades. With everything escalating much faster than Zoey, Marion, or Val expected, Sawkill itself cries out for help.
What is Sawkill Girls about?
Sawkill Girls is about the Rock and its girls. The Rock is Sawkill itself, a small town with its drama, rich folk, and horses insular from the rest of the world. When the Althouse women arrive, things are settling down from the disappearance of a young girl named Thora. But quickly, with more and more disappearances, Marion Althouse and her new friend Zoey are faced with the realities of what has been happening in the depths of Sawkill’s forest.
This book is pretty firmly in the horror category. There are descriptions of gore, monsters, darkness, and great evil. Content Warning for the book: blood, gore, murder, assault, sexual assault, and overall violence. The monster at the heart of this story is a gruesome one that preys on young women, and aspires to having the entire world on his dinner table.
Tropes: Cults and Beasts
Not only is the horrific monster, antagonist of the story, highly present, so too is a strange cult. The cult is somewhat based on the existence of the monster and boy are they creepy!
Plot: A lot of death
Yeah. For as much happens in this story, when you consider the relatively short timeline of events Sawkill sees so much death in a short period of time. The monster has an appetite, needless to say.
Obligatory shoutout for LGBTQ+ representation! Of the three main POV characters, none of them are straight. And what’s more, this isn’t a story that focuses heavily on their identities; this is a horror story first and foremost that just happens to revolve around three queer young women. Zoey is asexual, and Marion and Val are at least attracted to women each. Explicit identities aren’t discovered, but the presence of queer relationships is solid!
I also did enjoy the way the story was told. Revealing the identity of the antagonist/monster early on, and letting us know how he operated, went a long way for focusing so much more of the novel on the girls themselves. As they were more interesting than the blood and guts, I fully appreciated this. The writing was engaging, the descriptions very good, and the plot felt creative while also totally understanding the game of horror.
The beginning is a bit slow, with the Althouses so…disconnected from what’s going on. Marion especially is weird right from the beginning, which was a little frustrating until the novel really started picking up.
Honestly, the only critique I would have is actually the result of good writing. I just wanted Val to have an easier time of life, but the way her story was written wasn’t the problem. I just liked her and wanted better things for her.
Wow. This was a really fantastic read. The way the LGBTQ+ representation is woven in flawlessly, the way the plot unfolds. The monster is genuinely horrific, the protagonists absolutely easy to root for, and the writing engaging. I loved the descriptions, and the unique elements such as the brief sections from the Rock’s perspective and the use of the moths. The powers were interesting, and the cult incredibly creepy in a way that absolutely fit with the whole story. Legrand is clearly a masterful writer with a firm grasp of this genre and the story that needed to be told.