Member Reviews

A crumbling mansion full of flowers, a mother haunted by ghosts, and six sisters, locked away from the world until their wedding days. What could go wrong? Turns out, a lot. The Cherry Robbers is a delightfully sumptuous novel, full of sweltering heat and dark fears. Thanks to Mariner Books and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. My sincerest apologies for the long delay.

I sometimes thank God that I was born when I was. I remember my grandmother's outrage, still, when she told me how she had to get my granddad's written permission before the bank opened an account for her. I witnessed my own mother's struggle, combining her desire for a career while feeling the pressure to be a homemaker. While things are far from perfect in the 21st century, at least I do get to try and find a path for myself. The claustrophobia which is explored in The Cherry Robbers, the way in which the Chapel sisters' only chance to escape home and their parents is by creating another under the gentle tyranny of a husband, somehow still sends shivers down my spine, without even taking the ghosts and curses into account. The Cherry Robbers is about how generation after generation of women passed their own hopes and dreams onto their daughters, along with their own pains and traumas. As such, it is not necessarily an easy read, especially as it also contains depictions of mental health asylums, death, and self harm. I would say that, in my opinion, Sarai Walker handles all of this well, though. It never feels like she is exploiting pain to tell a Gothic, dramatic tale. Rather, she employs the drama and heightened atmosphere of the Gothic to tell a story about pain.

I considered how to provide a non-spoilery summary here. Suffice it to say that an artist is encouraged to reopen her past, after a stubborn journalist will not leave her alone. In a set of note books, she writes down her memories of her life, her sisters, and their deaths. Iris grows up in a mansion she (not so) affectionally calls "the wedding cake". Her mother wakes screaming at night, haunted by the victims of her husband's guns, and her and her sisters cannot wait to leave. When Aster, the oldest sister, dies dramatically after her wedding, the truth cannot be avoided: getting married spells death for the Chapel sisters. Told in retrospect and yet with a painful immediacy, Iris' journey is all about finding a way at once safe and yet fulfilling. With Iris as our narrator for much of the novel, we get to know her most intimately, although her keen eye for detail also tells us much of her sisters. However, Walker also makes clear how much of this is Iris' "story", the one she wants to tell us, and the way she plays with ideas of an unreliable narrator, or perhaps a narrator who is still hiding some things, is delightful. The way she skips from the past to the present also maintains a nice arc of tension throughout.

I heard of Sarai Walker;s first novel, Dietland, although I haven't read it yet. While that sounded wickedly modern in its feminism, with The Cherry Robbers she uses the sumptuousness of the Gothic genre to make her point. Anyone who looks closely at the title and remembers some slang will guess what the doom of the Chapel sisters is. Walker builds up to this, to the idea of male power over both the lives and bodies of women, but it becomes unavoidably pertinent in the final third of the novel. I loved the way that the novel was structured, how it took us back in time, how it played with time in general, and how strong Iris' voice was throughout the novel. In reflecting on the past, she has insights now she didn't have then, and that adds a nice layer of suspense and foreboding. The Gothic atmosphere, the way in which it employs pathetic fallacy, like the ever-present heat, or the symbolism of architecture, is delightfully employed in The Cherry Robbers. I loved how dramatic it was, but I never felt like it was overly dramatic, if that makes sense. The premise of a curse and ghosts in an otherwise normal world and how no one else seems to believe in it, ends up becoming a symbol for how women's stories and experiences in the world are dismissed. Overall, I loved what Walker did in this novel and can't wait to read Dietland and any future books she writes.

The Cherry Robbers has the best of the Gothic with the benefit of modern feminist awareness. Walker creates a luscious world you want to sink away in, were it not for the ghosts and curses and men hiding around every corner.

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“Sylvia Wren is a ghost … What a terrible thing, to be a ghost while still alive”.

The Cherry Robbers, a historical drama with touches of gothic themes, follows the short and tragic stories of the Chapel sisters and the terrible destiny that was forced upon them.
Told from the perspective of one of the youngest daughters in her elder age, we are presented with a conflicted family tied by social expectations and the complicated relationship between 7 different and unique women.

Iris Chapel ran away from her home after being interned in an asylum and began a new life from scratch, eventually becoming a well-known artist, Sylvia Wren. At age 80, after a whole life hiding in plain sight, she receives a letter from a journalist: She will share her secret with the world, whether she wants it or not.
With her past haunting her, she'll have to face her demons and their story. Their real story, not the one forced by the men in their lives and the gossiping.

This well-written story about womanhood in a world dominated by men place us into a rich family in 50' America, whose money comes from gun production. In the middle of such a manly-influenced habitat, we find this story of six young women, all named after flowers, and their hopes to fly free into the outside world.
The feminist perspective of the story is heavily present all over the narrative and is fully embodied by characters like Belinda and Sylvia.
The conflict between characters and the tension their different desires create is one of the strongest elements in the book and is remarked with intelligent hints hidden between the lines.

The weakest part of this novel was its momentum. It's a slow story, heavenly centered on the reflections the main character has and the creation of a complicated internal world, through small snippets into the family life. I take this pacing quite well, having some trouble at the beginning of the story, waiting for the first tragedy, and the ending. But the overall experience makes it worth it, and I was moved while reading it; being Calla and Daphne's deaths the most heartbreaking for me.
Callas's arc is so melancholic and, knowing that Iris gets to live a fulfilling life, makes Daphne's death so shocking…
The tragic aspect and ambiance this story has is probably its strongest quality. You get immersed into this story fully knowing the destiny this young ladies awaited and can only see it unfold before you. That, mixed with the gender inequality and oppression, makes it easier for the reader to grieve for this woman's fate.

I find it hard to put into words all the ideas this book generated in me. A lot of details are there for the reader to sink their teeth into and reflect on them. Lots of metaphors and little similarities between characters that would let you dive into an endless reflection.

I would advise other readers before picking up the book, that they check if it's really for them to enjoy. I was interested because of the synopsis, but also because it is listed as gothic horror, and that couldn't be farther from the truth. As I said before, it has some themes from that genre, but the novel does not develop that fully. We get themes of death, grief, bad omens, intense emotions, natural (floral) imagery, and some inexplicable events, predominantly at the beginning of the narration. Yet it doesn't feel like a gothic horror novel per se. This gothic thing that is going on is more of a decorative element: Present, but not heavy enough to sink.
So, for those who were like: “YEY, GOTHIC HORROR”. You have been warned.

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With an interesting premise, this book was very on the nose with its title The Cherry Robbers and even with the sister's flower names. It's a book that could make of interesting discussion but not one to re-read,

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Sarai Walker wrote a novel that perfectly balances horror and gothic mystery. An enjoyable and thrilling read.

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This book has such a fascinating, unique premise, and I love the Gothic spin. However, the narrative style made it hard for me to stay interested. In short, I was expecting something different. That said, the writing is beautiful and I think there are many, many readers who will love this. It's just not a fit for me right now.

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A mysterious romp through two timelines and the women entangled together in the struggle of self-discovery, and what it means to be truly at home with oneself amidst familial traumas and tragedies — and how they have the power to ripple through generations.

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A twisted tale of family and marriage and possibly a curse, The Cherry Robbers tells the story of six sisters and their impending deaths in such an interesting way. The story centers around a prominent gun making family and while that initially made me skeptical of being bale to see the sisters as sympathetic figures, Walker writes about them in such a dynamic way that the sins of their family is never swept under the rug. The sense of dread and panic in the story is palpable and makes for a page turning read. I really liked the way we follow Iris chronologically through her life and see her voice and perspective change along the way. Although I do think it could have been a little shorter as some sections got a little repetitive, that may have been intentional on the author's part and I generally find most books could lose 25-50 pages and be the better for it. Overall an interesting and entertaining read.

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Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for giving me a free advanced copy of this book to read and review. I enjoyed the time I spent reading this book but I wouldn’t necessarily read it again. The pacing sometimes felt off and I didn’t always feel connected to the characters.

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In an attempt to clear up my NetGalley ARCs, I recently picked this book up, and read it as a combination of eARC and audiobook. And I'm kind of kicking myself for waiting so long to get to this one.

Sarai Walker has created the story of the Chapel sisters, six women living in a Victorian house with their parents, and some dreadful secrets. As each daughter tries to find a means of escaping their family life, generally through love and marriage, they quickly find that they can't escape the realities of their background. Iris, the second youngest, is able to flee her home, and reinvent herself, only to have all of the secrets and truths find her in her old age.

I am easily drawn in by a good gothic setting, and the Wedding Cake, the name given to the family home, is a perfect example. Many times, I thought of Manderley, and felt many of those vibes throughout. The suspense and tone of the book kept me intrigued, although I feel that it was a bit long and drawn out in some sections. This was a solid companion for a gloomy, rainy weekend of reading. A strong 3.75 stars from me, and a self-reminder to pick up the eARCs sooner.

Many thanks to Mariner Books, Harper and NetGalley for providing me with a complimentary copy, in exchange for my honest review.

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I must firstly apologise for the amount of time it has taken me to provide a review of this book, my health was rather bad for quite some time, something that had me in hospital on numerous occasions and simply didnt leave me with the time I once had to do what I love most.

Unfortunately that does mean I have missed the archive date for many of these books, so It would feel unjust throwing any review together without being able to pay attention to each novel properly.

However, I am now back to reading as before and look forward to sharing my honest reviews as always going forward. I thank you f0r the patience and understanding throughout x

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"The Cherry Robbers" by Sarai Walker presents an interesting and unique premise but falls short of fully realizing its potential. The novel revolves around Sylvia Wren, a renowned artist living in New Mexico, who begins to receive letters from a journalist in Connecticut, inquiring about Iris Chapel, the lone survivor of the Chapel sisters. The Chapel sisters, all named after flowers, met tragic deaths shortly after their marriages, except for Iris, who escaped and became Sylvia Wren.

The book's strengths lie in its vivid and immersive atmosphere, beautiful descriptive writing, and an intimate portrayal of the main character. The setting, including the Victorian house known as "the Wedding Cake," and the gardens, is richly detailed, making the reader feel like they are living in the story. Sarai Walker's writing style creates a sense of closeness with the protagonist, Sylvia, which adds to the overall reading experience.

The Cherry Robbers explores several themes, including societal expectations for women, feminism, the patriarchy, sexuality, mental health, LGBTQIA issues, complex family relationships, and the lingering impact of trauma. Walker has important messages to convey and addresses these themes overtly, making the book thought-provoking.

However, the novel's main drawback is its pacing and the use of symbolism. The symbolism at times overtakes the plot, leading to a slow-burning narrative that could have been more condensed. The foreshadowing of events becomes abundant, impacting the book's suspense and making it feel less thrilling. The lack of a substantial reveal moment may leave some readers feeling unsatisfied.

Despite these pacing issues and a somewhat anticlimactic ending, The Cherry Robbers remains a compelling and impactful read. The novel is best described as gothic historical fiction, with a heavy emphasis on character development and introspection. It offers a glimpse into the eerie world of the Chapel family, known for their firearms legacy, and the curse that plagues their women.

While the book may not provide all the answers or a grand resolution, it succeeds in portraying the complex experiences of its characters within a dark and haunting backdrop. Readers looking for an atmospheric and thought-provoking historical novel with a focus on female experiences and feminist themes will find The Cherry Robbers engaging despite its pacing and narrative shortcomings.

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Due to a sudden, unexpected passing in the family a few years ago and another more recently and my subsequent (mental) health issues stemming from that, I was unable to download this book in time to review it before it was archived as I did not visit this site for several years after the bereavements. This meant I didn't read or venture onto netgalley for years as not only did it remind me of that person as they shared my passion for reading, but I also struggled to maintain interest in anything due to overwhelming depression. I was therefore unable to download this title in time and so I couldn't give a review as it wasn't successfully acquired before it was archived. The second issue that has happened with some of my other books is that I had them downloaded to one particular device and said device is now defunct, so I have no access to those books anymore, sadly.

This means I can't leave an accurate reflection of my feelings towards the book as I am unable to read it now and so I am leaving a message of explanation instead. I am now back to reading and reviewing full time as once considerable time had passed I have found that books have been helping me significantly in terms of my mindset and mental health - this was after having no interest in anything for quite a number of years after the passings. Anything requested and approved will be read and a review written and posted to Amazon (where I am a Hall of Famer & Top Reviewer), Goodreads (where I have several thousand friends and the same amount who follow my reviews) and Waterstones (or Barnes & Noble if the publisher is American based). Thank you for the opportunity and apologies for the inconvenience

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I enjoyed this quite a lot. It is categorized as horror, which I wouldn't really call it. Maybe historical, dark magical realism? The book is both dense and moves at quite a fast pace. It has a lot of things to say and takes up a lot of important topics, but it still leaves you with things to interpret for yourself. I would recommend this for fans of Helen Oyeyemi or Toni Morrison.

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The Cherry Robbers" is a delightful tale that effortlessly blends adventure and humor. With its engaging plot and lovable characters, it keeps readers hooked from start to finish. Easy to read, this gem deserves a solid four stars for its genuine charm and delightful storytelling.

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Well, I don't really know how to rate this! I loved the beginning and the premise of this story. It went downhill and was quite a slog for the last third of the book. It could've been edited down quite a bit.

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I waited to long to read this one. Such a wonderful and sad story. A gothic feel with historical fiction as the base. A story of love, heartache, loss and forgiveness.
Thank you NetGalley for the copy!

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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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