Cover Image: The Cherry Robbers

The Cherry Robbers

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Member Reviews

Thanks to NetGalley and Mariner Books for the review copy!

“The Cherry Robbers” by Sarai Walker is an interesting and exciting story to read. This book is a combination of a gothic thriller and a historical fiction. So that is interesting! The mixture of these two genres is unique, but works out very well. 

The language is beautiful. The pace is good. The writing style is great as well. Everything is on point!
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A captivating story! Not my typical genre but wanted to give it a try since the publishers sent me a widget. Loved the story about the sisters. It was fun seeing all their different talents. 

I think it was a bit long and I thought maybe it could have been shorter and less detailed in parts.
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Thank you so much for the opportunity to review this title, but my reading interests have changed. I will not be finishing this book, but look forward to others in the future.
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Thank you to Netgalley, the author and publisher for the ARC of this amazing book.

I loved this!!
Creepy gothic thriller meets historical fiction. It's brilliant! Highly recommend it, especially for fans of Shirley Jackson's books.

The book is so beautifully written and still kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time. I've had an extremely busy few months, but I still always made time to read this book because I just had to know what happened next!

The Cherry Robbers also explores some really interesting feminist themes like female sexuality, societal norms and expectations in the 1950s and the consequences those had on the young women growing up back then. And these also just add to the horror aspects of the story!
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I was sceptical about this one but I am so so glad I picked it up. I was absolutely hooked by the plot and characters from the get go!

In Mexico, 2017, quiet but popular artist Sylvia Wren has been hunted down by a journalist that is after her story, the story she has been running and hiding from for a very long time.
In Connecticut, 1950, we follow Iris Chapel and her five sisters as they navigate the world, men, and love. They have grown up with a 'crazy' mother, who is convinced their house and name is haunted. These six young women, heiresses to a large firearms fortune, soon find out for themselves just how haunted they truly are tragedy strikes as each gets married.

Sarai Walker absolutely pulled this off. I read it in just a couple of sittings, it didn't at all feel like the 400+ page book that it is. I was drawn in by the plot, then the writing, then these young women. I would feel for them so much and come to like them, only to forget what is in store for them!! I liked that there were some quite gruesome deaths, but it did come to feel a little repetitive having to go through to many incidents with all the sisters. 

Overall this was so fun and I can't wait to see what interesting concept Walker comes up with next.
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The Cherry Robbers is a book about a family that when the daughters married off or became intimate with a guy, the daughters would die. Everything has been placed in the past until one day a reporter reaches out to the remaining daughter, Iris Chapel.  It is then when memories of the past come to light.

I enjoyed this book to the fullest. I was intrigued but haunted. I loved the character development. The author did a great job with the uniqueness of each family member.  

Definitely a book I would recommend for anyone who wants an "edge of their seat experience."  Thank you to Netgalley and Mariner Books for the eARC in exchange of an honest review.
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In 2017, renowned and reclusive American artist Sylvia Wren is at home in New Mexico when she begins receiving correspondence from a journalist in Connecticut. The journalist is asking questions about someone named Iris Chapel, daughter of a firearms mogul and the sole survivor of the six Chapel sisters. In 1950, the Chapel sisters -- all named for flowers -- began dying horrible deaths shortly after they were married. Only Iris was able to escape the curse by fleeing her family home and starting a new Sylvia Wren.

The Cherry Robbers is a difficult book to rate. There's a lot that I enjoyed about this novel -- vivid atmosphere, gorgeous descriptive writing, a unique concept, well-executed symbolism. The setting of the book comes completely alive, and despite the depressing nature of the plot, I found myself wanting to live for a while in its pages: inhabiting a Victorian house dubbed "the Wedding Cake," walking through its rooms painted with flowers, exploring the gardens, eating mid-century dinners, even occasionally being spooked by a ghost. Sarai Walker's writing is so intimate that I felt at times like I was reading a memoir rather than a novel, and I love when I can feel that close to a character.

The Cherry Robbers explores relevant themes through a mid-century lens: societal expectations for women, feminism and the patriarchy, sexuality and love, mental health and LGBTQIA issues, complex family relationships, the grieving process, and what it means to be haunted. Like with Dietland, Sarai Walker has important things to say and she says them overtly. But unlike in that novel, in The Cherry Robbers, the symbolism sometimes overtakes the actual plot, making this an incredibly slow burn with some pacing issues that could've been more condensed, especially given all the foreshadowing of events to come.

I'd classify The Cherry Robbers as Gothic historical fiction; I didn't find it to be very suspenseful, especially with the abundant amount of foreshadowing. Any horror in its pages comes from the Chapel sisters' fates: the idea of not ever being able to be loved, or known, in a traditional way. Despite not offering any real answers about the Chapel sisters' curse, and despite a narrative that occasionally lags, The Cherry Robbers is still compelling and impactful.
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I read this book and then felt like I needed a lot of time to digest it, so this review is a long time coming. I really enjoyed this book and it made me think a lot. I loved the characterization and the setting. This book was a slow build, and the ending was not what I expected.

Overall, I felt this book was very well done and I would love to read more by this author.
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With obvious inspiration from the Winchester family, The Cherry Robbers sweeps us up in the gothic embrace of the Chapel family, famous for making the rifle that helped win the West. With a long line of women who die in childbirth, the family's matriarch has somehow escaped that fate and has a houseful of daughters. As they try to make their flight into the world in the only way women can - marriage - they meet their end. In fact, any intimate experience with a man seems to lead to a funeral. This book was a slow, slow burn -- but I was THERE FOR IT. I loved the unwrapping of the story and the viewpoint of a woman who changed her life trajectory to escape her past the best she can but is still tortured by the ghosts of a curse. Other reviews are correct, there is no huge reveal moment, but the true and real experiences of a woman in such dark surroundings is reward enough for me.
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I liked the writing of this book and found the story as a whole to be interesting but it was way to long for my liking. At times the book became repetitive. How many  times can we read about another sisters death without getting any real details? After reading over 400 pages I still didn't have any closure at the end.
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The Cherry Robbers was a slow, thoughtful, compelling read. The relationships between the doomed sisters felt very real, even as they all (save Iris) met their untimely, mysterious ends. Also an interesting study of gender and the expectations of women. I do wish we learned what exactly was happening to the girls and whether there really was a curse or not, but it was a satisfying read regardless.
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I found The Cherry Robbers interesting enough to finish reading, however there is no passion, no sense of humor and no vitality to be found in this book. Also (and this is creepy), men as portrayed in this novel get the short end of the stick. I don’t believe that all men are bad. For the purposes of the narrator, they are. So proceed with caution.
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One piece of mail changed it all. A simple envelope with a name she hadn’t seen or thought about in half a century.

Iris Chapel.

A name buried deep in the past.

Sylvia Wren is a reclusive and famous artist. Avoiding public appearances to keep her anonymity, until a relentless journalist is threatening to reveal who she really is.

To unearth the curse that haunted the Chapel name. To the deaths of her five sisters and a mother gone mad. To a fortune wrought on the speed of a bullet.

I couldn’t get enough of this book, which will be a delight for anyone fascinated with Sarah Winchester and The Virgin Suicides. Iris Chapels story is one of tragedy and resilience. I loved it.

Thank you to NetGalley and Harper Books for an arc of this title.

4.5 stars rounded up
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Book Review || Thank you, Harper Books and Audio, for the gifted book and audiobook!

Genre: Gothic Fiction
Format: 🎧
Pub Date: 5.17.2022
Star Rating: ☆☆☆☆

“When you live in defiance of yourself, you can adapt to your circumstances, but remnants of who you are at your core remain. A bit of wildness that can’t be tamed.”

Full disclosure, I picked up this book because of the cover. But, I stuck around for the authors writing style. Sarai Walker wrote with just enough mystery and subtlety that I couldn't stop reading.

I saw this listed a fictional and a sub-genre mentioned horror - while I do see where one could see the horror element to the story, it didn’t feel overwhelmingly gory. It is gruesome and descriptive (specifically with the death of the first sister), but it in no way compares with other horror stories I’ve read in the past (hello, Book of Accidents).

The only facet that held me back from giving the book a full five stars is that I didn’t feel like I had the ending I needed. It’s difficult for me to explain without giving away too much of the story, but I think I needed more? Don’t get me wrong; it was an exceptional plot that kept me hooked; I was just a bit let down with the ending.

🐌💨 Slow build, and then the story takes off
🌳 Family tree provided
🩸 Horror element
😱 Addicting

❗️- Graphic attempted suicide, self-harm, maternal death

Also, I highly recommend reading the author's note at the end. She provides a lot of context and inspiration for the story! I can’t wait to read the next book Walker writes.
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“The Cherry Robbers” by Sarai Walker, has all the characteristics of a great gothic story – slow burning tension, deep observations, an old Victorian house, and extreme isolation of the family that lives with a curse that’s wiping out its members one-by-one.

With the trademark slow pace of a gothic, the story told has similarities to the widow of the Winchester rifle fortune. Having visited that “haunted mansion” multiple times, I was excited to dive into the melancholy of spirits that were set on destroying this family with hopes to find some understanding. However, it turned into a repetitive plot that built slowly over and over until that shocking moment and in a snap that moment was glossed over and we quickly moved on – very anticlimactic. With all the building and building and foreshadowing, the reader is let down in the moments that mattered most. 

There are feminist themes throughout, and the writing of this book was well done. Ms. Walker took the time to develop these characters and the creepy atmosphere. Even though this book felt drawn out, I was left longing for more. No questions were answered, no mystery solved nor was there an understanding of events.  

Thank you to NetGalley, Sarai Walker and Mariner Books for the ARC in exchange for my honest review. ❤️️
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This book was definitely interesting and very beautiful and heartwrenching. However, I feel like the summary basically gives the whole book away. I mean the summary is the entire plot of the book and there are no mysteries or twists. There will be minor spoilers in this review but I'm not sure if we should consider them spoilers because if people read the summary they will know what's coming and what's going to happen in the novel.

The book starts with Sylvia Wren, famed artist living with her partner Lola in New Mexico. The two have a peaceful and happy life together but at the beginning of the novel Lola is away on a business trip and Sylvia is alone. She is also being overwhelmed with letters from a nosy journalist who hints at knowing the truth about Sylvia's past. In response, Sylvia decides to write her life story (up to her early twenties) in a series of journals. The rest of the novel is basically a long flashback to Sylvia's life as Iris Chapel, one of the Chapel gun heiresses. Her mother is fragile and slightly crazy and Iris and her sisters spend most of their time with each other forming their own family unit. This makes it even more tragic when their mother starts having premonitions of death that eventually do come true. 

Unfortunately, the book does not go deeper than that, nothing is ever really explained and the ending is pretty expected. Also, Sylvia and the journalist never meet and they don't start a correspondence which I felt was a missed opportunity to expand the book a little more. Overall the book wasn't bad it was just okay.

I was provided a free copy of this book through NetGalley.
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This book will make some people unhappy but I am not one of them. Wait, you say, if you are happy about the book, why the 3.5 rating?
That is a good question.

Immersive Historical Story
Mundane Paranormal
Complex Main Character

This story is at its heart a historical fiction story about a family of sisters with a weird mom and tendency to die after they have sex with men. <spoiler>And no, this does not save the lesbian sister from this fate surprisingly </spoiler> I enjoyed the dynamics of the sisters and the story of their haunted mother and her issues. There is the suggestion of actual ghosts and the mother apparently hears the echoing death scream of her own mom and the ending is very paranormal but it is not the main focus. The focus is our lead character Iris and her desperate attempts to save even one sister, even if its just her saving herself. Iris is an old woman at the beginning of the novel and flashes back to her childhood via journal entries where she tries to account for the Thing She Thinks Will Happen to Her. These entries range in length with her oldest sister Aster getting the longest section to set up the futile Stop the Wedding attempt by both Belinda (the mom) and Iris. The rest of the book follows Iris as she grows, watches her sisters continue to trainwreck into relationships with men (well, not all of them), and discovering her own sexuality is vastly different from that of most of her sisters.

Abrupt ending
Not a Lot of Love Story
Disappointing Ending

How can and ending be abrupt and disappointing? You'll know when you read it, its one of those fun ambiguous ones that we all LOVE. And, sorta spoiler I guess but Iris is gay. She is in a relationship with a woman at the start of the novel and in the smallest section at the end of the book we get their "love story" and I just felt sad that we watched so much trauma for pages and pages and the love of her life gets only a few sections. I know the focus is on her sisters but if Walker went more into detail with this love story, Iris' revelation at the end that <spoiler>Love is worth death when the opposite is no love at all </spoiler> would've meant more to the reader.
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Very engaging story, with a definite gothic theme to it. Would be a great summer or fall pick for readers and will be recommending it to others!
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I really got absorbed into ‘The Cherry Robbers’ because it is written between the fine line of a rich, historical thriller and a gothic style family back-story. Sylvia Wren who now lives as a reclusive and revered artist, is approached by a journalist chasing the story of her dark past. 
I loved the main character of Sylvia and found the story of her past instantly compelling. Her family history is plagued with grief and sorrow and as she grew up in a grand, Victorian house the atmosphere does lend itself to the gothic trope but for me ended up feeling more historical/ domestic in genre. This definitely didn’t take anything away from the story for me because throughout the writing felt vivid and well paced as Sylvia’s story unfolds.
This story really appealed to me from its synopsis but as I raced through it I definitely found more lyrical elements to the writing as in ‘Virgin Suicides’ or ‘Saltwater’; both books that I really loved and become fully immersed into. Such a poignant, enthralling read.
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In Sarai Walker’s long-awaited follow up to “Dietland” comes a different but equally clever and subversive novel.

A feminist gothic thriller, “The Cherry Robbers”, begins in 2017 when we meet Sylvia Wren — formerly known as Iris Chapel — an internationally famous and reclusive 80-year-old artist who lives with her wife in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Wren is not Georgia O’Keefe but Walker borrows generously from aspects of O’Keefe’s life and work in her novel.

The artist receives a letter from a journalist who writes: “I know that Sylvia Wren isn’t your real name. I know you’ve been living your whole life under another identity.” Sylvia decides to write her family’s story beginning in 1950s Connecticut.

In Connecticut, we meet the Chapels, parents with six daughters all named after flowers. The family lives in a large Victorian mansion called “The Wedding Cake”. The daughters are heiresses to the family fortune, Chapel Arms, a major firearms manufacturer, which has produced an iconic rifle since the Civil War, much along the lines of the Winchester rifle.

Belinda Chapel, the mother, a haunted figure, very loosely inspired by Sarah Winchester, believes the house has been paid for by death and is haunted by the spirits of people killed by the Chapel rifle. 

Once we’ve met the family, Aster, the oldest Chapel sister, marries and dies the morning after her wedding. Rosalind, Calla, Daphne, and Hazel (Zelie), follow suit, leaving Iris to flee for her life. Far from home and for 60 years, Iris lives as Sylvia Wren.

“The Cherry Robbers” is a family saga, a novel about intergenerational trauma, sisterhood, loneliness, despair, and grief. Art, love and female sexuality are part of the story. Walker makes interesting forays into feminism and male/female power dynamics. I would love to see “The Cherry Robbers” transformed into a Sofia Coppola film.

A huge thank you to @Netgalley and the publisher for the ARC.
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