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Elsewhere

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Richly emotive and darkly captivating, with elements of Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” and the imaginative depth of Margaret Atwood, Elsewhere by Alexis Schaitkin conjures a community in which girls become wives, wives become mothers and some of them, quite simply, disappear. Vera grows up in a small town, removed and isolated, pressed up against the mountains, cloud-cover Richly emotive and darkly captivating, with elements of Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” and the imaginative depth of Margaret Atwood, Elsewhere by Alexis Schaitkin conjures a community in which girls become wives, wives become mothers and some of them, quite simply, disappear. Vera grows up in a small town, removed and isolated, pressed up against the mountains, cloud-covered and damp year-round. This town, fiercely protective, brutal and unforgiving in its adherence to tradition, faces a singular affliction: some mothers vanish, disappearing into the clouds. It is the exquisite pain and intrinsic beauty of their lives; it sets them apart from people elsewhere and gives them meaning. Vera, a young girl when her own mother went, is on the cusp of adulthood herself. As her peers begin to marry and become mothers, they speculate about who might be the first to go, each wondering about her own fate. Reveling in their gossip, they witness each other in motherhood, waiting for signs: this one devotes herself to her child too much, this one not enough—that must surely draw the affliction’s gaze. When motherhood comes for Vera, she is faced with the question: will she be able to stay and mother her beloved child, or will she disappear? Provocative and hypnotic, Alexis Schaitkin’s Elsewhere is at once a spellbinding revelation and a rumination on the mysterious task of motherhood and all the ways in which a woman can lose herself to it; the self-monitoring and judgment, the doubts and unknowns, and the legacy she leaves behind.


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Richly emotive and darkly captivating, with elements of Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” and the imaginative depth of Margaret Atwood, Elsewhere by Alexis Schaitkin conjures a community in which girls become wives, wives become mothers and some of them, quite simply, disappear. Vera grows up in a small town, removed and isolated, pressed up against the mountains, cloud-cover Richly emotive and darkly captivating, with elements of Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” and the imaginative depth of Margaret Atwood, Elsewhere by Alexis Schaitkin conjures a community in which girls become wives, wives become mothers and some of them, quite simply, disappear. Vera grows up in a small town, removed and isolated, pressed up against the mountains, cloud-covered and damp year-round. This town, fiercely protective, brutal and unforgiving in its adherence to tradition, faces a singular affliction: some mothers vanish, disappearing into the clouds. It is the exquisite pain and intrinsic beauty of their lives; it sets them apart from people elsewhere and gives them meaning. Vera, a young girl when her own mother went, is on the cusp of adulthood herself. As her peers begin to marry and become mothers, they speculate about who might be the first to go, each wondering about her own fate. Reveling in their gossip, they witness each other in motherhood, waiting for signs: this one devotes herself to her child too much, this one not enough—that must surely draw the affliction’s gaze. When motherhood comes for Vera, she is faced with the question: will she be able to stay and mother her beloved child, or will she disappear? Provocative and hypnotic, Alexis Schaitkin’s Elsewhere is at once a spellbinding revelation and a rumination on the mysterious task of motherhood and all the ways in which a woman can lose herself to it; the self-monitoring and judgment, the doubts and unknowns, and the legacy she leaves behind.

30 review for Elsewhere

  1. 5 out of 5

    MarilynW

    Elsewhere by Alexis Schaitkin There is an isolated town where the people live their entire lives, isolated from Elsewhere, their only outside contact being the man who delivers their supplies and takes their goods to sell Elsewhere. This place is high up, damp, has a strange fog, it's very cultish (is it a cult?), and at more or less regular intervals, a mother will disappear forever. This is the way is was, the way it is, the way it will always be. This disappearing is called an affliction or i Elsewhere by Alexis Schaitkin There is an isolated town where the people live their entire lives, isolated from Elsewhere, their only outside contact being the man who delivers their supplies and takes their goods to sell Elsewhere. This place is high up, damp, has a strange fog, it's very cultish (is it a cult?), and at more or less regular intervals, a mother will disappear forever. This is the way is was, the way it is, the way it will always be. This disappearing is called an affliction or is it due to an affliction? To explain this thing that they don't understand, the women left behind must find fault with the woman taken so that they can have some kind of false hope that it won't be them next time. But they are always afraid it will be them. Vera is the centerpiece of this story and we see everything through her eyes. I don't understand the story and never fell into the rhythm of it, The men seem to have passively faded back in this world or maybe it's that they are safe, don't have to worry about the affliction happening to them, can know that they get to go on, no matter what happens to the women. The girls and women seem to have a built in cruelty to them, a constant suspicion about who will be next, what they did to be next, will it be them next. They seem to be their own worst enemy to me. But then, if things will never change, what can they do but over think this thing? I encourage you to read other reviews for viewpoints from those who understood and enjoyed this story more than I did. I was able to read this story with DeAnn, Jayme, and Susan and I appreciate their thoughts on the story, because discussing it was what made reading the book more enjoyable for me. I love getting answers in books I read but this one provides very few answers. Pub: June 28th Thank you to Celadon Books for the print copy of this ARC.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Lisa of Troy

    Alexis Schaitkin’s Elsewhere is the latest female dystopian novel. Vera lives in an isolated small town where the girls grow up to become women who get married, become mothers, and then disappear. Vera recounts how her own mother disappeared. As Vera starts to get older and contemplates marriage and motherhood, who will be the next to go? And is Vera ready to part with her life? Elsewhere definitely gave me much to think about such as what do we really leave behind when we go. It does seem that p Alexis Schaitkin’s Elsewhere is the latest female dystopian novel. Vera lives in an isolated small town where the girls grow up to become women who get married, become mothers, and then disappear. Vera recounts how her own mother disappeared. As Vera starts to get older and contemplates marriage and motherhood, who will be the next to go? And is Vera ready to part with her life? Elsewhere definitely gave me much to think about such as what do we really leave behind when we go. It does seem that parents are really pressured to give the essence of themselves when they have children. There aren’t many parents that I know who regularly pursue their own interests. There is one character that I am undecided about: Mr. Philips. I can’t decide if he is a puppet master or not, maybe a con artist. And I love that. However, I don’t feel that Elsewhere is ready to be published just yet. There should be refinements. The book is written as five chapters (4 extremely long chapters and one extreme short chapter). The chapters are so long (almost 2 hours to read one chapter)! Also, the paragraphs were so long! I mean paragraphs that would span more than 1 page. And multiple paragraphs like this. Vera’s world is very particular, and the author essentially comes right out and gives us an information dump at the beginning of the book. The last half of the book is also pretty weak, very forgettable, and light on action. The ending is really forgettable. I’m angry because I really like this book in that I enjoyed the plotline. I loved the way that it brought up ideas, subtle, giving me time to noodle on some deeper thoughts. However, the storytelling particularly with the last half of the book really needs to be cleaned up. Additionally, how could the editor let these ginormous chapters and paragraphs go by? The female dystopian genre is extremely competitive, and I didn’t feel that this version is ready for primetime yet. Elsewhere is a bit of a miss, but Alexis Schaitkin has some really unique, interesting ideas, and I would be honored to read more of her work. Ms. Schaitkin, if you would like me to be one of your beta readers for your upcoming works, I would be more than happy to support you. Please know that you are talented, I see it. *Thanks, NetGalley, for a free copy of this book in exchange for my fair and honest opinion. 2022 Reading Schedule Jan Animal Farm Feb Lord of the Flies Mar The Da Vinci Code Apr Of Mice and Men May Memoirs of a Geisha Jun Little Women Jul The Lovely Bones Aug Charlotte's Web Sep Life of Pi Oct Dracula Nov Gone with the Wind Dec The Secret Garden Connect With Me! Blog Twitter BookTube Facebook

  3. 5 out of 5

    Fran

    "We believe our affliction began with [a blurred, smudged photograph, a girl doubled]. She became a wife who became a mother who became the first of us to go...When our affliction came for a mother...one minute she was here, as solid and real as any of us, the next her body faded, faded until she vanished into the clouds." Vera, our narrator, described her isolated village, located in "the narrow aperture between mountains [where] everyday at dusk the clouds appeared, gathering out of nothing and "We believe our affliction began with [a blurred, smudged photograph, a girl doubled]. She became a wife who became a mother who became the first of us to go...When our affliction came for a mother...one minute she was here, as solid and real as any of us, the next her body faded, faded until she vanished into the clouds." Vera, our narrator, described her isolated village, located in "the narrow aperture between mountains [where] everyday at dusk the clouds appeared, gathering out of nothing and thickening..." A village set apart. Anywhere else was elsewhere. Schoolgirl Vera, was in a hand-holding "threesome" with Di and Marie. It was expected that when they became "uppers" in school, marriage and motherhood would soon follow. Being a mother was a slippery slope, a new identity subject to the scrutiny and the judgement of others, gossip included. "When a mother went...we sensed it...the clouds that took her touched us all...we felt her vanishing...". A full town ceremony ensued, the mother's existence erased. Why was this mother chosen? What was "out of balance in the nature of her love for her children that set her apart?" Did the mother love too intensely? Was she indifferent toward her children? "...it was impossible to predict what motherhood would bring out of a woman, what it would show her about herself..." How was Vera's mothering of her five year old daughter Iris being perceived? Her concern was heightened because her own mother had been disappeared. A stranger named Ruth came to town. "[Ruth] couldn't see what we saw...we didn't demand answers from our affliction...we submitted to it. We bore it, carried it..." Vera experienced a transformation. In a attempt to save herself, Vera chose to disappear from her husband and daughter and escape the certainty of the affliction. She left the cozy, fiercely protective town and headed into the unknown. "Elsewhere" by Alexis Schaitkin is a work of speculative fiction about motherhood, identity and how mothers judged themselves and were judged by others. Perhaps one needed to walk a mile in another's shoes to discover the many faces and emotions of motherhood and a mother's love. An excellent read I highly recommend. Thank you Celadon Books for the print ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jasmine

    Elsewhere by Alexis Schaitkin reminds me of old-school Atwood. Vera has spent her entire life in a small mountainous cloud-covered community cut off from the rest of the world, or elsewhere as they call it. She and the other girls eagerly anticipate their futures as wives and mothers. Although motherhood isn’t a straightforward thing in this town. Mothers regularly and mysteriously disappear, leaving no trace behind. Those that remain are never entirely sure what caused a mother to vanish, but t Elsewhere by Alexis Schaitkin reminds me of old-school Atwood. Vera has spent her entire life in a small mountainous cloud-covered community cut off from the rest of the world, or elsewhere as they call it. She and the other girls eagerly anticipate their futures as wives and mothers. Although motherhood isn’t a straightforward thing in this town. Mothers regularly and mysteriously disappear, leaving no trace behind. Those that remain are never entirely sure what caused a mother to vanish, but they speculate on this “affliction.” Perhaps that mother coddled her child too heavily, that one, not enough. Newcomers are not a regular occurrence in this small town, so when a stranger like Ruth shows up, it sends everyone into an excited tizzy. I think it’s best not to know much more than that. This short, speculative, character-driven novel solely follows Vera’s POV. The writing is sparse but impactful. It captured my attention right away. When I was reading it, I was savouring every word, but oddly, when I put it down, I had to force myself to pick it back up. Maybe I didn’t want it to end. It is definitely one I’ll be thinking of for years to come. There are themes on motherhood, identity, and community. I have zero critiques about this novel, except I wish the author explained the affliction in more detail. I haven’t read the author’s debut yet, which I need to correct ASAP. I’d recommend this if you enjoy slowish, character-driven books with Margaret Atwood vibes. Thank you to Celadon Books for providing me with an arc in exchange for an honest review. 4.5 stars. https://booksandwheels.com

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jayme

    3.5 ⭐️ They lived high above the rest of the World, in a cool, damp town between mountains which is covered by thick clouds every evening from dusk until morning. And, sometimes overnight, mothers would disappear into these clouds, never to be seen or heard from again- This is the affliction that set this town apart from ELSEWHERE. Girls grew up, both anticipating the next phase of their lives-marriage and motherhood-and fearing that the motherhood they so look forward to, might seal their fate, as 3.5 ⭐️ They lived high above the rest of the World, in a cool, damp town between mountains which is covered by thick clouds every evening from dusk until morning. And, sometimes overnight, mothers would disappear into these clouds, never to be seen or heard from again- This is the affliction that set this town apart from ELSEWHERE. Girls grew up, both anticipating the next phase of their lives-marriage and motherhood-and fearing that the motherhood they so look forward to, might seal their fate, as one who disappears. Strangers sometimes visit-but they are expected not to stay-and those who reside in this town, do not leave it-ordering the supplies that they need from Mr. Phillips. Conceptually, I loved the idea of this novel! I am always in awe of the minds of authors who write speculative fiction-and sometimes I am completely captivated by these imagined realities and other times, like this time, not quite as much. Told in 5 parts, the book wasn’t quite resonating with me, as a woman who has never wanted to have children of my own. Being a daughter wasn’t quite enough, and I considered setting this aside several times, realizing that although the writing was beautiful and emotive, that the book wasn’t really a fit for me, personally. But, although I didn’t enjoy this as much as MANY other reviewers, I CAN appreciate the author’s talent. The last two parts, (the last 50 pages) bring the story full circle in a satisfying way, which DID have me thinking about the book, when the last page was turned-and that is always a positive thing! Check out the amazing reviews of those in the group that read this with me-Susan, DeAnn and MarilynW… A big thank you to Celadon books for the gifted copy that arrived by mail. It was my pleasure to offer a candid review! AVAILABLE June 28, 2022

  6. 5 out of 5

    Catherine (alternativelytitledbooks)

    **Many thanks to @CeladonBooks and Alexis Schaitkin for an ARC of this book! Now available as of 6.28!** I have the sense that whatever is torn down and rebuilt there, the city will always be beautiful...and terrible things will always happen there. Alpina is a mystical place (or mist-ical, if you prefer 😉), set atop the mountains, where everything truly IS beautiful and simple...but this tiny, tight-knit community bears a terrible secret: its mothers ALL disappear. One day there and the next day **Many thanks to @CeladonBooks and Alexis Schaitkin for an ARC of this book! Now available as of 6.28!** I have the sense that whatever is torn down and rebuilt there, the city will always be beautiful...and terrible things will always happen there. Alpina is a mystical place (or mist-ical, if you prefer 😉), set atop the mountains, where everything truly IS beautiful and simple...but this tiny, tight-knit community bears a terrible secret: its mothers ALL disappear. One day there and the next day gone, nobody knows how or why the affliction strikes, leaving the town's inhabitants looking for the smallest indicator to let them know when to say their goodbyes and pass on to, well, somewhere else (but not exactly Elsewhere...) Vera lost her mother in this mysterious manner at a young age, but as she grows older, her and her friends are coming upon their mothering and childbearing years, and are mentally preparing for the same. Their supplier brings them the sustenance they need to keep going and stay happy in their limited world, playing recitals and chatting. When a stranger named Ruth happens upon Alpina, however, the girls are in a tizzy and desperate to know more about her sudden arrival. What is the importance of that strange photograph she carries? Will Vera outlast her friends and get to stay and be a mother...or will the rest of her life as a mom go up in proverbial (or literal) smoke? Speculative fiction is always a bit of a gamble for me, and I was not familiar with this author prior to this book, so I came into this book not knowing what to expect. As a relatively new mom, I was intrigued to learn the subject matter and figured I probably would connect with it on some level. And I did, on SOME level. I had a hard time diving into those feelings, however, as I spent most of this read simply exploring my confusion. First off, this book is essentially one long chapter with a few breaks on it. Each chunk gets progressively shorter, but I haaaaate books without chapters. Personal pet peeve, sure, but my brain likes order, so the chaos of no chapters? A no go. Schaitkin is a clever, thoughtful, and descriptive writer, who isn't afraid to go there or be a bit out there (or frankly, a lot out there) and unfortunately that made this mom feel a bit queasy in terms of some of Vera's inner thoughts and some of her fantasies, both sexual and in terms of her all-consuming need to be 'one' with her daughter. Those are separate things, mind you, but there are some odd passages where in private bonding moments with her daughter she fantasizes about her husband, etc....was just a little weird and off-putting for me personally. I appreciate that speculative fiction is speculative BECAUSE it is open to interpretation, and boy is there latitude here for that. I can see this being an interesting book club pick, or even a selection for an upper-level English course to dissect. Some of the allusion was pretty blatant: other references are a bit more nuanced. I think I understood where she was going with this...for the most part. Again, I feel this book sort of lays the framework for a deeper conversation, so I think it is the sort of book that is less about self reflection and more about societal exploration. Not sure if reading Schaitkin's first book would have given me greater perspective, but I think the strangest aspect of this book for me was that it felt like it was written by a much older author, sort of revisiting life with knowing eyes, and Schaitkin is fairly young, so I am curious as to why it reads that way to me. I'm a bit disappointed with the plot itself, which didn't seem to matter as much as the conclusions Vera reached about her own life, but again, this may have been by design. Unfortunately, this book didn't quite provide the insight into my own mothering experience I had been expecting, but it DID get me thinking, so certainly a plus! While I think either a restructuring or some heavy exposition would have helped propel this book to greater heights, be sure to have your spices handy: there is PLENTY to mull over (and who couldn't go for some mulled wine!?) 🍷 3.5 stars #Elsewherebook #CeladonReads #partner

  7. 5 out of 5

    Lindsay - Traveling Sisters Book Reviews

    4+ stars! Captivating and contemplative. Vera grows up in a small, isolated, cloud-covered town nestled deep in the mountains. Her community watches generations of girls become wives who become mothers, always worrying for which mother will disappear next. It’s the affliction that takes these mothers from their families who are then left to move on without them. This book is far beyond my comfort zone. Speculative fiction isn’t something I am generally drawn to, however, from the very start, the bo 4+ stars! Captivating and contemplative. Vera grows up in a small, isolated, cloud-covered town nestled deep in the mountains. Her community watches generations of girls become wives who become mothers, always worrying for which mother will disappear next. It’s the affliction that takes these mothers from their families who are then left to move on without them. This book is far beyond my comfort zone. Speculative fiction isn’t something I am generally drawn to, however, from the very start, the book carried an air of mystery and peculiarity that kept me curious and invested. It is an extremely unique book — one I truly connected with and enjoyed. There is a lot of symbolism throughout these pages. The thought-provoking storyline made me contemplate motherhood and all the pressures society puts on women. Mothers always feeling the need and pressure to “fit in” and do the “right” thing for their husbands and children. The writing is exquisite! Beautiful sentences flow from every page and they often made me pause to truly absorb their meaning. One small critique is that I think it would have been more enjoyable and easy to pick up had it been broken down into smaller chapters instead of 5 lengthy parts. I found this was a book I had to be “ready” for and in the right mindset to pick up. The lengthy sections without chapter breaks made it feel more intimidating. Overall, a unique and captivating read that I truly enjoyed and appreciate. This won’t be for everyone, but I strongly urge you to try it out as I know you won’t have read anything like it before. Thank you to the publisher for my physical review copy! This releases TODAY!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader

    Saint X was a completely unexpected story, and I was eager pick up Elsewhere. About the book: “Richly emotive and darkly captivating, with elements of Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” and the imaginative depth of Margaret Atwood, Elsewhere by Alexis Schaitkin conjures a community in which girls become wives, wives become mothers and some of them, quite simply, disappear.” I’m really dystopian novels lately, especially when they address important topics. Elsewhere is thought-provoking and emotionall Saint X was a completely unexpected story, and I was eager pick up Elsewhere. About the book: “Richly emotive and darkly captivating, with elements of Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” and the imaginative depth of Margaret Atwood, Elsewhere by Alexis Schaitkin conjures a community in which girls become wives, wives become mothers and some of them, quite simply, disappear.” I’m really dystopian novels lately, especially when they address important topics. Elsewhere is thought-provoking and emotionally-resonant. It’s full of surprises I don’t want to give away. Vera lives in a small town where mothers sometimes disappear. She worries that this will happen to her, too. I especially enjoyed the clear and concise writing that lured me right into this dark world. It’s a bit of a slow-building story, somewhat quiet, but always purposeful. I actually enjoyed this even more than Saint X and think the writing was even stronger. I’m already excited for Schaitkin’s next book and hope it’s another dystopian tale. I received a gifted copy. Many of my reviews can also be found on my blog: www.jennifertarheelreader.com and instagram: www.instagram.com/tarheelreader

  9. 5 out of 5

    Melissa (LifeFullyBooked)

    3.5 stars There is no disputing the fact that Schaitkin's writing is beautiful and lyrical. She has a way of turning a phrase that resonates with the reader, making you think about certain lines and their truth. This is an odd book. It's a bit of a fantasy novel, a bit of an allegory perhaps. It has themes of motherhood and womanhood and everything complicated that those things entail. The story isn't really straightforward, yet it's also not extremely difficult to understand if you make it to th 3.5 stars There is no disputing the fact that Schaitkin's writing is beautiful and lyrical. She has a way of turning a phrase that resonates with the reader, making you think about certain lines and their truth. This is an odd book. It's a bit of a fantasy novel, a bit of an allegory perhaps. It has themes of motherhood and womanhood and everything complicated that those things entail. The story isn't really straightforward, yet it's also not extremely difficult to understand if you make it to the end. The tale comes full circle and while not everything is explained, I felt like I did grasp what the author was trying to accomplish in her narrative. I feel, as a wife and mother on the cusp of big life transitions myself, that this book came along just when I needed it, and I could identify with so much of Vera's life and experiences. I listened to the audiobook and the narrator is superb, she drew me into the story and helped me enter into what Vera was going through. This would make an incredible book club selection as there are many things that cry out for discussion. It's a quiet kind of story that sneaks up on you, so much of that has to do with the author's writing ability, but I also admire her theming and way she crafted the story. I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book, all opinions are my own.

  10. 4 out of 5

    karen

    NOW AVAILABLE!!! *TW for long rambling quote-heavy review* this book is shockingly good, and it wasn't at all what i'd expected. see, i thought this was going to be folk horror, for the following reasons: 1) it's compared to shirley jackson's The Lottery 2) the cover's got people dressed in gender-matched* outfits surrounding a pyre: 3) the synopsis establishes that the story is set in a small, isolated rural town whose residents live under the shadow of an "affliction," which periodically causes s NOW AVAILABLE!!! *TW for long rambling quote-heavy review* this book is shockingly good, and it wasn't at all what i'd expected. see, i thought this was going to be folk horror, for the following reasons: 1) it's compared to shirley jackson's The Lottery 2) the cover's got people dressed in gender-matched* outfits surrounding a pyre: 3) the synopsis establishes that the story is set in a small, isolated rural town whose residents live under the shadow of an "affliction," which periodically causes some mothers to slip away, vanishing into thin air. and 4) the cute little letter slipped into my ARC fairly drips with a folk-horror tone: and yet. it both is and isn't folk horror. let's get one thing outta the way: i'm not a huge fan of folk horror, in any medium. i find it kind of a drag; it's too stylized and formulaic; always some slow unfolding story set in a closed-off, tradition-fixated population where everyone's a little "off," and the visiting outsider eventually discovers whatever ancient magickal curse makes these people tick, usually as they are being ritualistically sacrificed. yawn. Elsewhere definitely has elements of folk horror to it—all goats and sexual bloodletting, the insularity of a self-sufficient town where no one ever leaves, where anything beyond the borders is simply called "elsewhere," where townsfolk treat the few outsiders who do visit with a mix of fascination, reservation, pity, and condescension, living their small pleasant lives quietly resigned to the fact that some of their mothers might just poof out unexpectedly, and life just goes on, children pairing off, girls growing older, getting married, giving birth, maybe disappearing themselves. and it does have a secret kernel to it, which makes it hard to review without spoilerz, but i will say that this book is way more than horror, folk or otherwise—it's an insightful, emotionally resonant and richly themed meditation on the whole experience of motherhood through the eyes of vera, whose mother went when she was a girl, who becomes a mother at the risk of doing the same to her own daughter, and the magical realism elements are just the delivery mechanism for a very literary take on maternal love and loss and sacrifice summed up perfectly by this line: You do not get to keep what is sweetest to you; you only get to remember it from the vantage point of having lost it. because the appreciation of this slim novel lies in the reader discovering it for themselves, i will tread lightly and focus on only two of its five parts (by which i mean "plop out a lot of passages i loved that don't give anything away")—the first, when vera is a child, and a stranger named ruth visits them, and the second, after vera has married a man named peter and given birth to a daughter named iris. one of the most notable events of vera's childhood is ruth's arrival to the town. strangers are so uncommon in their community that her presence creates a stir amongst the townsfolk: That night as we ladled stew into bowls, brushed the tiny pearl teeth of children, walked dogs down damp streets, we felt the stranger's presence; it seemed we did these things for her, as if, while our town's population had increased by a single person, we had also doubled, become both ourselves and the sight of ourselves, now that we had a stranger to see us. the residents can always feel when a mother has gone, at which point they will cluster in front of her home, where all photographs of the departed will be removed and ritualistically burned, and the mother's possessions will be divided amongst the remaining women. ruth, witnessing the aftermath of a mother's going, cannot understand their placidity in the face of what she finds shocking. She could only see the horror of it. She couldn't see what we saw: Something happened here that happened no place else. We didn't know why it happened, or how. We didn't demand answers from it because our affliction itself had taught us that you cannot wrest answers from a mystery. We submitted to it. We bore it, carried it, so that there would be a place on this earth where people lived as we did and knew the things we knew. We did this not only for ourselves but also for them, for her, even if she could not appreciate it. We were necessary. people, even mothers, die from natural causes in the town, but the phenomenon of mothers vanishing is different, sacrosanct. the physical body is gone, and there's no pattern to who goes and who is spared, although the women try to determine after the fact if there were any signs—whether a mother loved their child too much or too little, what determining factors they might have missed, always wondering if they will be the next to go, but powerless to predict or avoid it. A girl became a mother who stayed or a mother who went, an outcome that surprised us, or didn't. Impossible to predict, what motherhood would bring out of a woman, what it would show her about herself, the end to which it would carry her. what an outsider cannot understand is that theirs is a glad burden more than a resignation or acceptance, and vera, although captivated by ruth—by the novelty of a stranger—knows she can never truly assimilate into their world. She couldn't comprehend that a mother's going belonged to all of us, or that loss was the smallest part of it, because in losing her, we received everything else. Our affliction opened us to pain, yes, but also to heights of beauty, and of love, that people elsewhere would never know because they did not know what it was to love in the shadow of our affliction, our love deepened and made wild by the threat that hovered over it. Our affliction was terrible, but it was not as terrible as living without it. their only real contact with elsewhere is mr. phillips, a necessary outsider who brings them supplies four times a year, and even he struggles to accept their attitude towards their affliction: ...he knew that the mother had not died, but he could not grasp what had happened to her instead, nor find any way to feel about it except this simple sadness and a wishing against it, no different than if the mother had caught a fever or fallen from a great height. He couldn't access what it meant to us, and if he couldn't, it was unreasonable to expect Ruth, who had known us only weeks, to grasp it even half as well. the theme of an outsider unable to access an insular community is later echoed in vera's relationship to her daughter; a specific combination of adoration and resentment inherent between mothers and daughters that she understood before she became a mother herself: A mother was a chance to hate someone as much as you loved them, caring and wounding, a push and pull that only tightened the knot that bound you. While I envied the other girls their mothers, it felt right to me that I didn't have mine. Difficult, but comforting, the way I suppose one's life always feels. and became even more relevant when she had iris; whenever peter tried to intervene in their squabbles: He didn't understand that a mother and daughter cannot be protected from one another, that the harms that pass between them cannot be mitigated because they are also expressions of love. although theirs is a happy family, and peter loves iris unreservedly, the mother-daughter bond is a different, exclusionary beast; a powerful, all-encompassing, desperate, and fierce relationship, all the more fraught for its ephemerality. when iris is stung by a bee: Peter tried to gather her in his arms, but she broke free of him and ran sobbing across the yard and up the porch steps to me. She climbed into my lap and I told her soon, soon, the pain would fade. I looked across the yard at Peter. I could see the hurt in his eyes, and I wanted to wish that Iris had let him soothe her, but I couldn't make myself wish it. I wanted to wish she were not in pain, but I couldn't do that either, because the pleasure of soothing it went so deep. I thought that I should want what Peter and Iris had, a simpler, less turbulent love, parent and child instead of the two-bodied creature Iris and I became together. But I could not make myself want it. I couldn't get enough of our push and pull, the spell we cast upon each other, our love like a secret chamber we shared, and always, no matter where we were or what we were doing, we were also in that chamber together. I loved to love her this way, even as I worried that this love might not be what a child needs, that it might also be a kind of harm. this review is a mess because the book rocked me with its beautifully rendered exploration of the minefield of maternal love and my profound feels are impeding my ability to make words work, but trust me, it's a swooner of a book and the best folk horror not folk horror story i've read. five stars! *happy pride month! for our purposes here (and ONLY here, in discussing the visual narrative of the book cover), let's pretend gender is binary. come to my blog!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Susan - on semi hiatus

    Magical Mystery Tour. Because this story was compared to The Lottery, I’d expected a completely different book. Eerie ritual sacrifice and blind acceptance being elements in that one, I was prepared for a thriller with a unique twist. Elsewhere is NOT a thriller. It’s a mystery and a beautifully written one. It’s also rooted in a mother’s love for her children - at times melancholy and others pensive. You don’t have to have children yourself to appreciate the deep connection and I found myself emb Magical Mystery Tour. Because this story was compared to The Lottery, I’d expected a completely different book. Eerie ritual sacrifice and blind acceptance being elements in that one, I was prepared for a thriller with a unique twist. Elsewhere is NOT a thriller. It’s a mystery and a beautifully written one. It’s also rooted in a mother’s love for her children - at times melancholy and others pensive. You don’t have to have children yourself to appreciate the deep connection and I found myself embraced by the mood created by the author. There is an element of magical realism and I may not have chosen this title had I known since I’m unfamiliar with the genre. I still enjoyed the book and wonderful writing but have to admit to feeling displaced in deciphering what was really going on. Having finished, I’m still not sure. This was a group read with Jayme, MarilynW, and DeAnn. We’re still in the process of discussing this and I’m hoping that their individual and collective opinions will shed some light on my quandaries. I still need to give this a high rating based on the exquisite writing and tenor. If you enjoy art in the written form, this may be for you. I want to thank Macmillian, Celadon Books, and Alexis Schaitkin for my print copy due to publish on June 28,202

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jenna ❤ ❀ ❤

    "You do not get to keep what is sweetest to you; you only get to remember it from the vantage point of having lost it." I think it's better to not ever have something than to have it only to lose it. This is a book about loss. It's also about the fierce, all-consuming love that is sometimes (usually?) shared between mothers and daughters. The latter is not something I can relate to or understand and so I did not really connect with the main character of this book, Vera. She lives in a village set "You do not get to keep what is sweetest to you; you only get to remember it from the vantage point of having lost it." I think it's better to not ever have something than to have it only to lose it. This is a book about loss. It's also about the fierce, all-consuming love that is sometimes (usually?) shared between mothers and daughters. The latter is not something I can relate to or understand and so I did not really connect with the main character of this book, Vera. She lives in a village set apart, somewhere probably in Europe, though the place nor time is never given. It is a place where most never leave, but where mothers sometimes disappear. When they do, all images of them are burned, memories of them are forgotten, and it's as though they never existed. Yet they are still there, these disappeared mothers, still there in the empty spaces inside their children. Vera grows up not remembering her mother who disappeared when she was five. All her life she worries that she too will have "the affliction" and will someday disappear. That worry intensifies when she marries and has a baby. The plot is meandering and quiet. It is beautifully written and I mostly enjoyed Vera's story and her life. At times I was bored with all the feelings and stuff about motherhood and did some skimming. At others, I was entranced. I think those who can relate more to Vera will love this book. I'm glad I read it even if I could not relate. 3.5 stars rounded up.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Katie B

    I rarely read speculative fiction but I wanted to give Elsewhere a chance because I loved the author's debut novel, Saint X. I went in with an open mind and it turned out to be a good read. For whatever reason, I'm normally intimidated with this genre as I've convinced myself my brain will have to work overtime to grasp the story. That wasn't the case here as it wasn't difficult to follow. Although as with most books, you do just need to sit back and let the writer take you on this interesting j I rarely read speculative fiction but I wanted to give Elsewhere a chance because I loved the author's debut novel, Saint X. I went in with an open mind and it turned out to be a good read. For whatever reason, I'm normally intimidated with this genre as I've convinced myself my brain will have to work overtime to grasp the story. That wasn't the case here as it wasn't difficult to follow. Although as with most books, you do just need to sit back and let the writer take you on this interesting journey which explores motherhood. It's not necessary to divulge much about the plot ahead of time. The gist of it is Vera lives in a small, isolated town where some mothers vanish, disappearing into the clouds and leaving their families behind. As Vera enters adulthood, she contemplates her fate. I was impressed how the author was able to tackle an often written about subject like motherhood, but present it in a unique way. The writing was purposeful, as if she didn't want to let one word go to waste. It might not be an action packed story but that didn't prevent me from being captivated by this fictional world and its inhabitants. Thank you to Celadon Books for providing me with an advance copy! All thoughts expressed are my honest opinion.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Miya (pain at a peak, excuse slow responses)

    Dark and unique in the best way possible. This story was so creative and beautifully written. As a mother myself, it brought up so many emotions and deep thoughts. I really love when books do that. Make you think and reassess. Not the lightest read for sure, but worth every page.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Bkwmlee

    3.5 stars When I first got my hands on this ARC of Alexis Schaitkin’s sophomore novel  Elsewhere , I was definitely excited to read it, as I had really enjoyed her debut novel Saint X and couldn’t wait to see what she would have for us next. Now having finished this, I have to say that it was not what I expected. The writing was actually beautiful and I loved the magical quality of the prose, which flowed so lyrically and seamlessly throughout the story. Having said that though, the exp 3.5 stars When I first got my hands on this ARC of Alexis Schaitkin’s sophomore novel  Elsewhere , I was definitely excited to read it, as I had really enjoyed her debut novel Saint X and couldn’t wait to see what she would have for us next. Now having finished this, I have to say that it was not what I expected. The writing was actually beautiful and I loved the magical quality of the prose, which flowed so lyrically and seamlessly throughout the story. Having said that though, the experience of reading this book was actually quite a struggle for me, mostly because, from beginning to end, I wasn’t really sure what I was reading. The world that the main character Vera inhabited was completely foreign to me and I honestly couldn’t relate to her actions (or those of any of the other characters) at all. Much of the plot didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me either, though this has nothing to do with the quality of the work per se, but rather my own inability to comprehend the nuances of the story. This book falls heavily into the speculative, dystopian fiction category, which is not a genre that I typically read, so I guess it’s not a surprise that I struggled through it. While I don’t regret reading this, I definitely prefer Schaitkin’s debut novel over this one — though with that said, I also admire her ability to put out a second novel that is so markedly different from the first one. The imagery in Elsewhere is vivid and stunning, especially when describing the “world” in the mountains that Vera called home. Overall, this was a good book, and well-written too, but unfortunately, it just wasn’t for me. Hopefully Schaitkin’s next book will work better for me. Received ARC from Celadon Books via Celadon Early Reader program.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jon Nakapalau

    A truly original tale of identity and and motherhood. At the core it is about the role (projected) of what a mother is expected to become; and the path we expect women to follow once they take on the awesome responsibilities that come with the title 'mother'. Alexis Schaitkin has given us a glimpse into the paradox of what it means to be a mother; even as you help 'define' your children you 'disappear' as an individual. By placing the story in a mountain village where mothers routinely disappear A truly original tale of identity and and motherhood. At the core it is about the role (projected) of what a mother is expected to become; and the path we expect women to follow once they take on the awesome responsibilities that come with the title 'mother'. Alexis Schaitkin has given us a glimpse into the paradox of what it means to be a mother; even as you help 'define' your children you 'disappear' as an individual. By placing the story in a mountain village where mothers routinely disappear this paradox is made real through magical realism. Vera (the narrator) is a young girl when her own mother disappears. As she gets older it becomes clear that the only way for her to have a 'presence' in the future is through motherhood. Very much reminded me of The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood - highest recommendation.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Maria

    WTF did I just read? I thought I knew what speculative fiction was, but if this is it, it ain't for me. It felt like this was the slowest build up to absolutely nothing. I stuck it out, because some said in their reviews that it would all make sense in the end. For me, it never made sense and I am left with an irritating amount of questions. Like why was there a little bit of vampirism? Others have also described this book as lyrical, I get what they're saying, but for me the lyrics had a real lu WTF did I just read? I thought I knew what speculative fiction was, but if this is it, it ain't for me. It felt like this was the slowest build up to absolutely nothing. I stuck it out, because some said in their reviews that it would all make sense in the end. For me, it never made sense and I am left with an irritating amount of questions. Like why was there a little bit of vampirism? Others have also described this book as lyrical, I get what they're saying, but for me the lyrics had a real lullaby quality to them. When things weren't boring they were gross or awkward. Something about the sex scenes and bodily descriptions made me extremely uncomfortable. The way the author talked about penises reminded me of a stick of butter being left out on a counter.

  18. 5 out of 5

    DeAnn

    2.5 motherhood stars (rounded up for the writing) There’s an isolated and cloudy mountain town where Vera has grown up. The odd thing about the town is that mothers periodically disappear overnight. Not all of them, but enough that this is not a surprising event. Vera’s mother disappeared when she was young and she’s now quite close to her father. As Vera grows and gets to the age of marriage and becoming a mother herself, we wonder if the same thing will happen to her. This one is well-written, bu 2.5 motherhood stars (rounded up for the writing) There’s an isolated and cloudy mountain town where Vera has grown up. The odd thing about the town is that mothers periodically disappear overnight. Not all of them, but enough that this is not a surprising event. Vera’s mother disappeared when she was young and she’s now quite close to her father. As Vera grows and gets to the age of marriage and becoming a mother herself, we wonder if the same thing will happen to her. This one is well-written, but a bit too far on the dystopian/unexplained side of things for me. I realized that I don’t do well when I don’t understand the why behind events and outcomes. I did enjoy discussing this one with some book buddies -- Susan, Marilyn, and Jayme. Be sure to read their reviews, I'm on outlier island with this one. My thanks to Celadon for the complimentary copy of this one to read and honestly review.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Faith

    This is about a strange town obsessed with motherhood, or maybe it’s just the author who is obsessed with motherhood. In any event, this book wasn’t for me. It was quite short so I kept reading, but I probably should have abandoned it. I enjoyed “Saint X” and was hoping to like this book too. Unfortunately, I did not. Maybe female-centric dystopian fantasy is just not for me. I will have to be more wary about reading this author again. I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.

  20. 4 out of 5

    SheLovesThePages

    •Description• Tradition Motherhood Stranger •Rating• ⭐⭐⭐⭐ 4 Stars I recommend this book. •Review• It's an interesting book and I was hooked from the beginning. It's a meandering story..and I was here for it. It's about tradition in a small town where all outsiders are strangers and all strangers wouldn't understand. Thank you to Celadon books for this advanced copy! •Description• Tradition Motherhood Stranger •Rating• ⭐⭐⭐⭐ 4 Stars I recommend this book. •Review• It's an interesting book and I was hooked from the beginning. It's a meandering story..and I was here for it. It's about tradition in a small town where all outsiders are strangers and all strangers wouldn't understand. Thank you to Celadon books for this advanced copy!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    [4+] How wondrous to enter a book that totally captivated me from the first pages - even though I had no idea where I was or what I was reading! Elsewhere is set in a timeless, isolated town with its own set of rules and ethics. It is not a book that is easy to categorize - the blurbs try with inadequate and misleading comparisons to Shirley Jackson's The Lottery and Margaret Atwood. Ignore them. It is a contemplative, exquisitely written book about motherhood and identity with a thread of tensi [4+] How wondrous to enter a book that totally captivated me from the first pages - even though I had no idea where I was or what I was reading! Elsewhere is set in a timeless, isolated town with its own set of rules and ethics. It is not a book that is easy to categorize - the blurbs try with inadequate and misleading comparisons to Shirley Jackson's The Lottery and Margaret Atwood. Ignore them. It is a contemplative, exquisitely written book about motherhood and identity with a thread of tension throughout. This is a book that I will be thinking about for a long time! Thank you to Celadon Books for sending me an ARC.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Diane S ☔

    When I listen to an audio of a book I end up very much enjoying, I wonder if had I read it instead of listening, would I have liked it as much. Hard to know the answer to that, but I do believe that in whichever format, I would have recognized how brilliant and beautiful was the prose. Excellent writing here and it definitely brought an added bonus to this strange story. Mothers and daughters, loving too much, or maybe not enough. They search for meaning after each disappearance. They accept it t When I listen to an audio of a book I end up very much enjoying, I wonder if had I read it instead of listening, would I have liked it as much. Hard to know the answer to that, but I do believe that in whichever format, I would have recognized how brilliant and beautiful was the prose. Excellent writing here and it definitely brought an added bonus to this strange story. Mothers and daughters, loving too much, or maybe not enough. They search for meaning after each disappearance. They accept it though as the price to pay in this place that they see as beautiful and perfect. But is it? One woman will take matters in her own hands and will bring both some clarity and a differing view of Elsewhere. Though I finished the book with some questions, some were answered and I was okay with leaving the others as a mystery. This book is original, strange and yes, mysterious. It fit my mood perfectly and loved every minute. The narration was amazing.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jill

    Some mothers love recklessly or with extreme vigilance, others love insufficiently or in excess, still others love too coarsely or sweetly or fall out of balance. One thing we know for sure is that mothers suddenly vanish in the cloud in a small, insulated town in the mountains, and all signs that they ever existed are swept away. Who will be afflicted – and more importantly, why? Alexis Schaitkin, who blew me away with her debut novel Saint X, is back with her sophomore novel, a work of speculat Some mothers love recklessly or with extreme vigilance, others love insufficiently or in excess, still others love too coarsely or sweetly or fall out of balance. One thing we know for sure is that mothers suddenly vanish in the cloud in a small, insulated town in the mountains, and all signs that they ever existed are swept away. Who will be afflicted – and more importantly, why? Alexis Schaitkin, who blew me away with her debut novel Saint X, is back with her sophomore novel, a work of speculative fiction, that has nothing in common with her first book. And I’m glad to report that it’s good. VERY good. Turn-the-pages good. We are instantly immersed in the logic of this world, where strangers are scarce and everything outside of it is “elsewhere.” Wives prick their husbands with a silver hairpin and comingle their blood. Women mostly hang out in threesomes. When motherhood comes, it opens women to pain and great heights of beauty and of love that “people elsewhere would never know because they did not know what it was like to love in the shadow of our affliction.” Vera, our first-person narrator, will embark on a sort of hero’s journey as she early on meets her first stranger, gets married, and becomes a mother. It would, of course, be unfair to provide what this journey entails. It would be easy enough to read this novel on its simplest level: an atmospheric fairy-tale-of-sorts of a strange town.But dig a little deeper and Alexis Schaitkin is tackling the very nature of motherhood and the anxieties and transformations that lie in wait. It may well be that every newly minted mother worries whether her love is healthy enough, lives in fear of separation, yet reaches a point where that separation is inevitable. And it may also be true that we all come from a place we will never move on from, that we hate and love in equal measures, and that others who live elsewhere can never fully understand. Delving into the most basic of questions, Alexis Schaitkin explores, “What is home? What is motherhood? What is healthy love?” The fact that she can do it in such a magical and hypnotic manner reveals that she is a writer to be reckoned with. I have been awaiting this book and give a huge thanks to @Celadon Books for the opportunity to be an early reader in exchange for an honest review. #ElsewhereBook #CeladonReads

  24. 5 out of 5

    Collette

    Nestled in an aperture of a cloudy mountain range lives an isolated community whose mothers are regularly struck by “the affliction,” which causes them to vanish. Elsewhere, by Alexis Schaitkin, is told in five lengthy chapters by Vera, who is 16 at the opening and a middle aged at the end. Through her eyes and experience, we see how these women’s lives are shaped by uncertainty and speculation. When a mother vanishes into the clouds during the night, the next day everyone gathers, and speculate Nestled in an aperture of a cloudy mountain range lives an isolated community whose mothers are regularly struck by “the affliction,” which causes them to vanish. Elsewhere, by Alexis Schaitkin, is told in five lengthy chapters by Vera, who is 16 at the opening and a middle aged at the end. Through her eyes and experience, we see how these women’s lives are shaped by uncertainty and speculation. When a mother vanishes into the clouds during the night, the next day everyone gathers, and speculates on the reason she was taken. What was lacking in her mothering? What was too much, or not enough. The others always come up with a reason, perhaps to assuage their own fears and kindle the hope that if they love just the right way, they will be spared. Vera, who’s own mother was taken, grows, marries and has a daughter of her own. She remembers a stranger who once visited their village, a woman who made the others both self-conscious and defensive of their way of life. A woman who gave her a photograph of Elsewhere, and told her that she too could live outside of this place. Elsewhere. Her love for her daughter Iris, is complete and all-encompassing, and yet it can not save her. Feeling like she’s on the verge of becoming afflicted, she decides to leave the confines of her community, not knowing if it will save or destroy her. The writing in this work of speculative fiction is artful and immersive. Schaitkin's setting is rich and sensory, her observations deft and beautiful. The community, cut off from all except a man who delivers their supplies and the occasional visitor, possesses many odd practices, some of which verge on disturbing in their intensity. Yet the beautiful language pulls the reader back in. The story centers on the complex bond between mother and child, and the various gradations this relationship evokes. Other minor themes explored include how women, and girls, relate to one another, and the value that society places on mothers. I listened to the audiobook version produced by Macmillan Audio and narrated by the brilliant Ell Potter, and her soft, precise words lead the listener into the story and complements the suspenseful, otherworldly tone of the book. I whole-heartedly recommend the audio format for this novel. Thank you to NetGalley and Celadon Books for access to this imaginative, thought-provoking audiobook in exchange for my honest review.

  25. 5 out of 5

    donna backshall

    What a beautifully written book. I often roll my eyes when I see reviews stating "this book immediately pulled me in", because it's so overstated that the comment has lost its impact within the realm of online reviews. But this is exactly what I've wanted to say about Alexis Schaitkin's atmospheric and poignant Elsewhere from the very first chapter. Elsewhere reminds me of another favorite of mine from a few years ago, Disappearing Earth. The world building, the claustrophobic unease, the burning What a beautifully written book. I often roll my eyes when I see reviews stating "this book immediately pulled me in", because it's so overstated that the comment has lost its impact within the realm of online reviews. But this is exactly what I've wanted to say about Alexis Schaitkin's atmospheric and poignant Elsewhere from the very first chapter. Elsewhere reminds me of another favorite of mine from a few years ago, Disappearing Earth. The world building, the claustrophobic unease, the burning questions you feel may never be answered, all of this adds up to something so compelling that you can't put it down. It has an almost magical quality that goes far beyond mere "speculative" fiction. I've seen comparisons to Margaret Atwood, one of my favorite authors, and I can absolutely see the insightful and imaginative similarities. I will be adding Alexis Schaitkin to my list of must-read authors.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Mallory

    This was an oddly beautiful, dark, unique novel. I was totally not sure what I was reading (honestly even now that I’m done I’m not sure) but it was interesting and well written. Vera lives in a small village isolated from the rest of the world. Their only contact is deliveries for what they order from a man who is the only person to ever visit the village. The village has something else unique about it - mothers sometimes disappear in the middle of the night. Vera’s own mother disappeared when This was an oddly beautiful, dark, unique novel. I was totally not sure what I was reading (honestly even now that I’m done I’m not sure) but it was interesting and well written. Vera lives in a small village isolated from the rest of the world. Their only contact is deliveries for what they order from a man who is the only person to ever visit the village. The village has something else unique about it - mothers sometimes disappear in the middle of the night. Vera’s own mother disappeared when she was a young girl. When Vera was a teenager a visitor came which created a lot of excitement at first. As Vera enters adulthood and becomes a mother herself she starts to feel the disappearing come and while she doesn’t want to disappear she has to figure out what to do. I had read this author’s previous work and this book was equally as good but completely different. I can’t wait to see what else she comes up with.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Carole

    DNF I did not finish Elsewhere because it was not a genre that I enjoy reading (dystopian) and so I will not be rating or reviewing it. I’m sure that the book is excellent and will appeal to many.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Dana

    I hadn't heard of the genre speculative fiction until this book. It was certainly a very different read. The writing is really beautiful and the concept is unique. I started out really enjoying Elsewhere and found Vera's story to be very intriguing. Getting a bit further into it I felt like a lot of storyline went over my head. There were several things I didn't understand. The hairpin for instance? I am very much in the minority with my thoughts on this book. There are some fabulous reviews and I hadn't heard of the genre speculative fiction until this book. It was certainly a very different read. The writing is really beautiful and the concept is unique. I started out really enjoying Elsewhere and found Vera's story to be very intriguing. Getting a bit further into it I felt like a lot of storyline went over my head. There were several things I didn't understand. The hairpin for instance? I am very much in the minority with my thoughts on this book. There are some fabulous reviews and a lot of love for Elsewhere. It just didn't work for me. Thanks to Celadon Books for my gifted copy!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Chelsey (a_novel_idea11)

    "You do not get to keep what is sweetest to you; you only get to remember it from the vantage point of having lost it." This short novel is unlike anything I have ever read before. While some themes and pieces felt familiar, it's delivery was wholly unique. Vera lives in a community insulated from the rest of the world, or 'elsewhere' as they refer to it. In her community, everyone knows everyone and they survive based on the good will of their supplier, Mr. Phillips who appears every month to bri "You do not get to keep what is sweetest to you; you only get to remember it from the vantage point of having lost it." This short novel is unlike anything I have ever read before. While some themes and pieces felt familiar, it's delivery was wholly unique. Vera lives in a community insulated from the rest of the world, or 'elsewhere' as they refer to it. In her community, everyone knows everyone and they survive based on the good will of their supplier, Mr. Phillips who appears every month to bring goods, take orders, and collect hand woven baskets to be sold elsewhere. But, as idyllic and beautiful Vera's community is, the women of the town suffer from an affliction - an affliction that disappears mothers. However, the disappearance is not a thing the community fears and neither is motherhood. In fact, motherhood is revered and women are celebrated and worshipped for bearing children. Disappearing is just part of life, and is thought to save the children from a worse affliction. When a stranger arrives to the community and tries to ingrain herself in their way of life, it becomes apparent to the community just how protected they are, and how the people of elsewhere will never understand them. The novel is broken up in five chapters, however, it read more like three long parts to me. Conspicuously absent from the text is any mention of place or time. It felt historic to me - perhaps 1950s or 1960s - and possibly taking place in NYC and at the shore. Deeper themes of motherhood, sexism and ageism, violence, and sexuality permeate the novel. There was one slightly graphic sexual assault scene that may trigger some readers and the act of making love in the community actually inherently involves violence. I tend to find authors I love and automatically read anything they publish. This was the case for Schaitkin as I absolutely loved Saint X. However, this book could not be more different from Saint X, so if the synopsis does not intrigue you but you loved Saint X, I would not read just because it is written by the same author. That being said, this book held my attention all the way through, was a very quick read, and was fascinating in so many different ways. It's one that would be great to read and discuss with a friend or bookclub. Thank you to Celadon Books for the advanced copy.

  30. 5 out of 5

    CYIReadBooks (Claire)

    I was so excited to receive a physical ARC of the book and I was chomping at the bit to start reading it. That excitement quickly went to the wayside soon after I started. I'm probably not the target audience for this novel as I just couldn't seem to get into the flow of the story. Perhaps it was the poetry-like storytelling that didn't appeal to me. However, I did like the Amish feel to the township that seemed to have a sinister agenda. Some issues that I had with the book were: Why are stranger I was so excited to receive a physical ARC of the book and I was chomping at the bit to start reading it. That excitement quickly went to the wayside soon after I started. I'm probably not the target audience for this novel as I just couldn't seem to get into the flow of the story. Perhaps it was the poetry-like storytelling that didn't appeal to me. However, I did like the Amish feel to the township that seemed to have a sinister agenda. Some issues that I had with the book were: Why are strangers not welcome to stay? How and why do only mothers disappear? Do the disappearances come at a certain age? What is the deal with the hairpin? Maybe the answers are there at the end; but I wasn't about to slog through 58% more of the book to find out. One unfortunate star.

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