Cover Image: Dark Mother Earth

Dark Mother Earth

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Member Reviews

I liked this one.  Easy to read and a decent story.  I'd read further books by the author.  I'm rating it 3/5 stars.
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A dark book with themes ranging from sexual abuse to children and animal violence. The writing was okay for the most part but I think I would have enjoyed the story more if these topics had been handled better. I'm not above gore in books but something about this just didn't do it for me.
Even so, I would recommend it to people who enjoy the genre.
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Thank you for the opportunity to read this. I will be posting a full review to Goodreads, Amazon, and Instagram.
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Was unable to read as the "Send to Kindle" feature malfunctions and is no longer available to download.  

Interested enough that I will buy the book.
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This is a really dark novel that isn't scared to go to some terrifying places. A slow burn that pays off in the end.
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Thank you to Netgalley for this copy of Dark Mother Earth in return for my honest review. Lyrical and dark novel. I loved the premise. It kept me engaged and entertained.
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This is a complex, multi-layered and dark Croatian novel which pulled me in as the narrative progressed and the tension rose. It’s the story of writer Matija Dolencec, who after two successful books is now finding his third book increasingly difficult to write. We start in contemporary Zagreb, with Matija the adult struggling with his novel and his relationship with his girlfriend, and then jump back to 1991 to a small village in northern Croatia during that country’s fight for independence, just before the looming Balkan wars. Matija is an unreliable narrator par excellence as he lies and fabricates constantly, eventually driving away his girlfriend when she can no longer put up with his fantasy world. I found the first part of the book, with the adult Matija, relatively unengaging, but the novel really took off for me when he manages to confront his past and try to discover the truth about what happened when he was a boy, something he has wiped from his memory. Unless, of course, we can’t rely on his early memories either. Perhaps they too are fabrications - who knows where the truth really lies? Matija as a boy is obviously a troubled child – but does this come from within or is it the effects of his outward circumstances? A child in crisis, a village in crisis and soon a whole county in crisis, this is an intelligent exploration of loss, friendship, betrayal, abuse and trauma and one which I found compelling and moving. With an undercurrent of mythology, magic realism and political upheaval, it’s a haunting psychological study, well-written, well-paced, and with a well-controlled air of menace which gradually ramps up to good effect.
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I could not get into this book. I had to DNF it. The writing style reminded me of stream of consciousness writing where you are just following the characters thoughts and I can't follow it. This is exactly what happened here. I had no idea what was happening other than he was obsessing over not being able to write a book. I just couldn't do this one. I would recommend this to someone who really enjoys stream of consciousness writing.
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Sorry, this was a DNF at 20% for me. A librarian told me once that life is too short and there are far too many books out there to read that you should have to work at finishing an awful one, so I quit. The blurb sounded interesting enough for me and the novel had a lot of high marks from other reviews, however I'm not sure the book was lost in translation or actually just bad. To start, the book gives little in terms of setting and characters, it rarely described where it was, when it was, and what was going on. The story was constantly just random pieces of conversations taking place supposedly at different places, times, and with different people, with no transitions to indicate that one was taking place. At 20% through all you had was that the main character was a mostly successful author who lied occasionally and was young and horny.
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Engaging and entertaining. A story filled with lyrical prose that will engross you from beginning to end. Happy reading!
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Unfortunately I had to dnf this one. From what I read the writing was good but I couldn't get into the story. I think it could be enjoyed by a different reader though.
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Dark Mother Earth caught my attention because the synopsis indicates the narrator is an author. I always find books of that style to be engaging and enjoyable, regardless of the genre.

This one left me feeling uneasy. While there are a lot of names in the book, there are very few characters. The narrator, Matija, is the only one we get any insight into – and nothing is as it seems with his unreliable recollection of his past and his need to lie to protect himself from horrors he may or may not have imagined.

Dark Mother Earth is dark. Way darker than I was anticipating. It should come with various trigger warnings: suicide, dealing with grief and child abuse being the main ones. Not having any pre-conceptions meant these themes were shocking and unsettling for the reader and it left me distanced and removed from the plot.

The plot is split into three: Matija as a grown man, struggling to find his muse again after his girlfriend left him due to the lies; a young child grieving the loss of his father and unable to accept death; and an older boy struggling to make friends and find his place in the world.

You know from the start that Matija is not a reliable source of information: he’s a compulsive liar. But this obsession goes much deeper – and darker – than spinning a few untruths. His childhood story is haunted by imaginary creatures that stalk and terrify him. The suicides spreading throughout the village are a mystery to all but Matija – whose source of information is two make-believe friends-turned-enemies who give him all the details – details no child should be privy to.

I finished the book feeling unsettled and, if I’m honest, disturbed. The slow-moving pace means you’re taken along for the ride: the discomfort and fear a young Matija feels is experienced by the reader as well because the plot dwells on these incidents, ensuring Matija is isolated from his friends and village and creating in the reader the same feeling of detachment.

But – now I’m writing this review – I’m realising there are many levels to this book and the narration is clever in a chilling way the more you think about it. All of Matija’s inside knowledge matches the little you know about the characters from how they present themselves to the rest of the world. Technically, the information comes from an imaginary source, begging the question of how Matija knows all of this: is his mind still protecting him from even darker events in his past by inventing these creatures? Is he making it up? Is it even true, or the wild imagination of a disturbed little boy?

You’re suddenly left with the realisation that what is presented as the truth stems from a figment of Matija’s imagination. You know from the start Matija is an unreliable narrator, but only upon reflection have I realised there is no way of telling if any of it was real.
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I very rarely ditch a book halfway through but this just wasn't working for me. I got to 45% and I was just confused by it all.

This book follows a Croatian author who seemingly suffers from amnesia. Thanks to his amnesia, he's turned into a fantastic story teller to mask that he has no memories. When we meet him, he's written two wonderful books. His third is a failure. You know what else is a failure? His relationship. His girlfriend is unhappy that he doesn't have any memories to share and he just keeps lying.

But as you can probably guess, it turns out that he doesn't have amnesia at all. He's just repressed his memory.

To start, I found the book quite crass in places. Admittedly this could just be because it was a little lost in translation.

Also, at 30% ISH, the book went back to chapter one and is told from the start and instead of being written in third person as has been up to this point, it switches to first person but there's no real signposting.

I just found it so chaotic and a chore to read. Life's too short to read books that don't work for you, so I decided to ditch it.
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I am sorry but I will not keep on reading this title. All the "masturbation", the "weird" (for me) intro to the story... and that nothing had literally happened during the first 25% of the book is just a drag. His life does not seem interesting nor his problems seem to interest me either.
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"DARK MOTHER EARTH" By Kristian Novak 

This is a very unique novel and translated to English from a Croatian author. The story is very deep and dark, a very unique story that needed to be read being in the right frame of mind and openness to the story being conveyed by the author. The message is not light by any means and the author wants to convey deep emotion about grief and loss, sadness and isolation. I enjoyed reading from authors that have a different perspective of how they are able to see the world and tell their story.
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I always love discovering new international authors and translations enable us to discover books that otherwise wouldn't have been available to us. I don't think I've read a book by a Croatian author before, and after reading the blurb of Dark Mother Earth and seeing the extremely high rating on Goodreads, I was convinced I had found the perfect title to remedy that. I really thought that I was going to enjoy this one, especially with such a fantastic blurb, but I guess it just wasn't ment to be... I really hate having a DNF this early in the year already, but I just couldn't get myself to keep reading in the end. I'll try to explain below why.

I'll keep this short, but there were quite a few factors that played a role in my decision to DNF. Not only did I find that the story is too chaotic, superslow and nothing really makes sense, but I also felt that nothing much seems to be happening even almost a third into the book. I wasn't a fan of the writing style at all... It feels like random words and thoughts have been put on paper without a proper meaning or order, and it sounded more like random ramblings rather than a cohesive story. The characters are absolutely despicable and their ramblings and character development hardly make any sense. Or at least the minimum development I could see in the first third of the book... Also, there is way too much sex talk involved, and in a disrespectful way too. Confusing, tedious, dull, frustrating and quite frankly simply exasperating; trust me, I really tried and gave this book multiple second chances, but in the end I just couldn't force myself to keep reading to see if things would improve. I guess this book most definitely wasn't for me... I seem to be in the minority though, so if you think this could be your cup of tea you might want to try it anyway. I guess it's unpopular opinion time again!
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I wanted to like this, I really did, but Matija did not make it easy.  He's a writer who has created and lived a web of lies in order to avoid his real back story.  You can guess what that involves - it's not pretty.  I found the opportunity to learn about Croatia and Croatian folklore valuable but the novel itself less engaging than I had hoped going in.  For those looking for something different.
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I think this was a really interesting and well-written story, but there were a couple things that I just couldn't get past. I hate violence to animals and child sexual abuse, and this book had both. The writer is such a great, vivid writer, and so there are a couple of images that I would very much like to forget but probably will never be able to. Unfortunately, it made me not enjoy this book all that much. 


Thank you to Netgalley and publisher for giving me a free copy in exchange for an honest review!
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Very slow and I couldn’t get into it. I notice that on Goodreads all the really positive reviews are in Croatian, so I wonder if it might have lost something in translation? Sadly this was a DNF for me.
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Kind of a slow burn but good nonetheless. 

My full review will come as we are reaching the publication date.
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