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The Cherry Robbers

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The Cherry Robbers by Sarai Walker
This is an amazing story. It feels part gothic and part fantasy. Iris is one of six sisters born to the wife of an arms dealer. She starts to behave very oddly. She screams most of the time and then tries to stop her eldest daughter getting married. Iris her fifth daughter seems to have inherited her odd ways. The girls are all heiresses but most of them die on their wedding nights. Is this because of a curse or just a series of bizarre events?
Iris runs away to New Mexico changes her name to Sylvia and eventually becomes a world famous artist. Any curse passes Sylvia and her female partner by
The story is beautifully told but was the tale of her sisters the truth? Sylvia has to re examine her life as both Iris and Sylvia and we have to make up our own minds. This is the genius of the story
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This book is creepy yet intriguing. I had to keep reading to see what was happening, how things would come together, and what that meant for the main character. There’s a steady pace with a descriptive storytelling style, everything told from the perspective of Iris, daughter number 5 in a family of 6 daughters.

Lots of Haunting of Hill House and The Virgin Suicides vibes (the films, I haven’t read the books).
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I was pleasantly surprised to find myself enjoying this book. I expected historical fiction and got a gothic family drama instead. 

I really admire Iris/Sylvia's tenacity in the face and aftermath of tragedy, which she has endured through most of her formative years. 

Thank you to the publisher, author, and NetGalley for the ARC. I really enjoyed it!
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The Cherry Robbers
Sarai Walker
May 17, 2022

Sylvia Wren is a renown artist and author of many books. She now lives in New Mexico, sheltered in a small town. Her work is guided by her assistant in Sante Fe. Sylvia walks to the post office or on small trails but for the most part stays in her home. Initially we are guided through her daily life. On one particular day Sylvia sorts her mail for her clerk to respond to. She takes care of bills, requests, and essential correspondence. In this delivery she finds a letter, hand written. True she has many requests for speaking engagements or interviews. Those she lets the assistant handle. This particular letter seemed interesting however when she opens it she finds a letter detailing her history, her private life describing her childhood in Bellflower, Connecticut. This intrusion kept nagging at her. She finds she must respond. Sylvia writes that she was indeed not Iris Popplewell. 
From this point, we are introduced to the Popplewell family. There was father, Henry, mother Belinda, Iris and her 5 sisters. The Cherry Robbers goes on to explain the entire history of the family. Belinda has a mental disorder that began at her birth. Through her life with the girls she passes strange behavior onto her family. This was a difficult but interesting book to read. There were times it appeared endless. I wanted to read it but the bizarre story would shut me down for a while, then I would force myself to pick it up  again. 
The Cherry Robbers by Sarai Walker will be published on May 17, 2022 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. I read and reviewed this novel via NetGalley. I am well read and enjoy most literature  but this was a tough story to process. There were parts that I enjoyed and others that frightened me. Now this is all my opinion so I expect readers to choose this one and enjoy it if they so desire.
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I really enjoyed this read. Sarai Walker's descriptive language drew me in. I did not want the story to end. It's different to what I normally read, in a good way. It's specific, it stands out. I loved the vein of feminism that existed throughout it too. She is a great writer. It's my first from her but must certainly won't be my last!!!
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The Cherry Robbers by Sarai Walker. I loved Walker’s book Dietland, so I was very excited to see a new book from her. I was not disappointed. While Dietland and The Cherry Robbers are very different books covering very different topics, they both have strong feminist themes and complex characters. The Cherry Robbers is inspired by Sarah Winchester and her famous Wincher Mystery House. Six daughters of a famous gun manufacturer are haunted by the ghosts of those killed by the gun that their father makes. This book was gothic, twisty, atmospheric, and just so unexpected. I loved every second of it. Highly recommend for everyone’s summer reading list.
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A big house and multiple deaths do not make a novel gothic. A novel populated by women does not make the narrative feminist. Bloated, superficial, and too transparently inspired by obvious sources. ARC—due to be published in May 2022.
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This historical gothic thriller from the author of Dietland will hook you with its claws and keep you on the edge of your seat.  Renowned artist Sylvia Wren is living a reclusive life in New Mexico when her secret past catches up with her. Sylvia grew up as Iris Chapel, one of six daughters of a famous firearms mogul father and a mother plagued by visions of all the victims killed by Chapel rifles. The Chapel sisters know marriage is the only escape from their suffocating existence at the family’s Victorian estate, but each sister dies mysteriously within 24 hours of her nuptials. Iris disappears into her new identity and escapes the family curse…or does she?  Walker’s skillful creation of tension and dread combined with an all-encompassing sense of place make this story almost impossible to put down.  The Cherry Robbers is a gorgeous standout in the trend of exploring feminist themes through excellent gothic fiction. Fans of Mexican Gothic and We Have Always Lived in the Castle, don’t miss this one!
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Told from the perspective of famous and reclusive artist Sylvia Wren, The Cherry Robbers is the tale of the six Chapel sisters, heiresses to a world-renowned firearms company, each of whom died tragically one after the other. Where does Sylvia Wren fit into the story? After being contacted by a journalist on a mission, Sylvia must reckon with her past: she is Iris Chapel, the only sister who was able to escape the family’s curse. Having run away and changed her name, Sylvia has managed to build a life for herself, but at what cost? The Cherry Robbers is not only a gothic family saga, but an examination of the intersections of sex, independence, longing, and the relationships between sisters trapped within the conventions of 1950s propriety.

This book was exceptional, from beginning to end. I was completely enraptured by the tale of the Chapel sisters, and their cloistered existence together in their huge Victorian reminded me of The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides if it was set in the 1950s. Family sagas can sometimes feel overwhelming, with their large casts of characters and long time span, but The Cherry Robbers was a little more tight, insular, and close; a little claustrophobic but in the best way. The quietly sinister feeling mixed with the tense family dynamics really helped build the gothic vibes, and it made for an intense read. Knowing that all of the girls you’re reading about will die also added a layer of foreboding that was present throughout the book. I spent the entire time waiting for the deaths to happen, and when they did I was shocked even though I knew they would happen. Walker built these characters so well and made them so individually endearing that when you lose them, you grieve.

While the writing as a whole was beautiful and engaging, what really grabbed hold of my heart was the depiction of the relationships between the sisters. If you have a sister, this book will hit you hard. I’m an older sister, and I can’t imagine losing my sister. Our relationship has been close from the start, despite being 7 years apart. I related to the Chapel girls and their love for one another so much and watching those relationships be strained to breaking throughout the book hurt so much. Iris Chapel, the 5th sister who eventually becomes Sylvia Wren, is the perfect narrator for the novel. She has very distinct relationships with each of her sisters and with her mother, a woman who is convinced that the Chapel house is haunted by the victims of their firearms. We get to see Iris go from being assured of her and her sisters’ places in the world to ultimately having that assurance shattered beyond repair. The dissolution of the Chapel girls wasn’t just literal, it was emotional, especially in the character of Iris. You root for her even though we know she fails to save them, and seeing how she has picked up the pieces (or hasn’t) was nothing short of heartbreaking.

The Cherry Robbers shines even when certain elements are vague and left unanswered, and that’s hard to pull off as a writer. The unexplained aspects worked in the novel’s favor, and the abrupt ending was a powerful one that will spark a lot of debate, as only the best books do. I highly recommend this book, and if you’re interested, it releases on May 17th!
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The Cherry Robbers by Sarai Walker

CW: death, suicide, attempted suicide, ghosts, gaslighting, institutionalization, guns and the gun ndustry 

The synopsis of this story completely sold me: a prominent artist running from her past is actually a member of a munitions dynasty whose daughters keep mysteriously dying. Yes, please. But it’s so much more than that. 

I was immediately taken in by Sylvia, the reclusive artist, and when the book jumped to Iris, a daughter of the owner of the Chapel family’s rifle company, the story soared. Iris is the second youngest of six daughters, and her mother is haunted by ghosts of people who have died by the guns her husband manufactures. As Iris’ story starts, we learn that some of her older sisters will wed and quickly die. The mysterious deaths are fascinating. Are their deaths related to the men they marry, the sexual awakening they experience, or the ghosts that haunt their mother? 

The framing device with Sylvia is equally as interesting, and I wish there was a bit more of it. I immediately assumed she was a Georgia O’Keeffe-like figure, and it turns out that the real artist was an influence, according to the author’s note, as was Sarah Winchester, of the Winchester Mystery House fame. 

I was completely engrossed in this book and was disappointed that it had to end. 

Thank you to @netgalley and @serpentstail for the advance copy. (Pub date 05/17/22). 

#thecherryrobbers #saraiwalker
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3 stars 

I went into The Cherry Robbers virtually cold with only the tempting blurb describing this as a fiery, feminist gothic novel to guide me. All of those buzzwords ultimately persuaded me to request this ARC and dive into this world that Sarai Walker created.

The Cherry Robbers has all of the elements of a good gothic novel - a crumbling old house, a family that lives almost completely in isolation, and a curse that is striking down the daughters one by one. However, after the incredible prologue, everything in this book felt very surface level. There are so many great concepts that are ripe for analysis and reflection in this book, but it constantly felt like we were in a cycle of mentioning something awesome and then almost immediately moving on. 

For me, a gothic has to balance its trademark slow pace with either some excellent tension or some deeper commentary. The Cherry Robbers is clearly attempting to do the latter, but often sacrifices a closer look at that commentary to focus on the still interesting but often repetitive plot. 

Thank you to NetGalley and Mariner Books for an ARC of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review!
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I love a good gothic ghost story and this one was no exception. I loved the characters, I could feel the sisterly bonds and feel the grief that each felt throughout the book. I'm also a sucker for a dual timeline and this was done well, with the vast majority of the book being told in the past. A sign of the times during that period: a father who was disinterested and disengaged from his house full of women and women who were emotionally unhappy being shuttled away to avoid embarrassment. I would definitely recommend this one for those who like gothic horror along with family drama, it was beautifully written and the overall story was super intriguing.
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This is the first book I have read from this author and I definitely enjoyed it. The sheer creativity of the backstory of the artist was compelling.  This definitely has a the feel of a memoir and is such a unique blend of genres.  It did take me a bit to really become invested in the story, but once I was hooked, I had to finish reading this in one sitting.  This book had a feminist feel to it that really went well with the time period that it was written in especially.  These women felt compelled by circumstance to be forced towards marriage as their way out of their childhood home.  True to the time period as well, was institutionalizing for mental health.  There was definitely a stigma to the artist and her mother and their response to the supernatural nature of what is happening in their home, but of course it is explained away by hysteria of sorts.  I enjoyed the unique structure of the book and the nod towards the Winchesters and perhaps a little bit of Shirley Jackson for good measure.  Thanks for the ARC, Goodreads.
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I didn't quite know what to expect when I picked up this book, but it was absolutely amazing! It is exactly the creepy, gothic kind of story full of twists and turns that I love.
I cannot wait to recommend this to mystery and thriller readers, especially those who enjoy something a little different or gothic.
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I really enjoyed this book. I liked the dual timelines. However, there was some repetitiveness that made it felt slow at time. The cover is gorgeous and this book is definitely worth a read.
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I had high expectations going into this book. Dietland, Sarai Walker's debut, was a huge favorite of mine. And I am glad to say that The Cherry Robbers did not disappoint. An atmospheric American gothic with a blunt feministic slant. Most of the story takes place in the fifties, as our heroine Sylvia Wren, who was then Iris Chapel lives with parents and sisters in a Victorian mansion that resembles a wedding cake. The Chapel family made a fortune selling firearms and the matriarch of the family claims that they are haunted and cursed by the ghosts of the people who died by those guns. Interesting enough this part of the story refers to a real life heiress Sarah Winchester, who a built a sprawling architectural oddity supposedly to fend of the ghosts. 

The Chapel girls are all named after flowers. But flowers are also a harbinger of doom in the story, whenever their mother is afflicted with a nauseating smell of roses, she knows something bad is about to happen. And indeed something bad happens when a Chapel girl is being deflowered, so to speak. Girl after girl they succumb to their fates and are buried. Until only Iris and her younger sister Zelie are left. There are echoes of several stories real and fictional throughout the book, like The Virgin Suicides and We Have Always Lived in the Castle. There is an ambiguity about the curse and the ghosts that haunt Iris and her sisters, that the rational male world around her refuses to acknowledge. 

Though we know in advance that the Chapel sisters are headed for an early demise, we can't help but feel for them and wish they can lead the "normal" lives they wish upon themselves. The men in the book rarely rouse sympathy, they are either negligent or flippant or worse the gaslighting and mansplaining types, all of them never listen to the women, ever. I'm tempted to discuss how Iris eventually escapes her sisters' fate but it seems like a spoiler, so I shall refrain from doing that. But I'm not entirely comfortable with the underlying implications of what saves our heroine in the end, and why it leaves a rather bitter pessimistic taste.

Thanks to NetGalley and Mariner Books for giving me an arc in exchange for an honest review.
#TheCherryRobbers #NetGalley.
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The Cherry Robbers is an exquisite, haunting story which encapsulates loss, grief, sisterhood and sensuality resulting in a truly memorable story. The synopsis definitely interested me but I couldn’t possibly have foreseen how much I would love this book and how emotional it would make me. This is definitely one of the best works of southern gothic / historical fiction I’ve read thus far and it’s making me crave more of this genre because the two tie together wonderfully.

This is my first time reading any of Sarai Walker’s writing but consider me a fan because the way the story played out was masterful in horror and a creeping suspense which pervades the entire story. The prose was decadent and enthralling, especially all the descriptions of flowers and the focus on the natural world as a whole was so well done. I liked how the focus on nature tied in with the Chapel sisters names, as they’re all named after flowers; Aster, Rosalind, Calla, Daphne, Iris and Hazel. The whole novel has this haze like a Sofia Coppola film, like a dazed summer / virgin suicides. The urgency and potency of youth and female sexuality

As well as the writing, I really loved the characters and how Walker made me care for them all so deeply. While Sylvia aka Iris is our protagonist, each of the Chapel sisters is given enough exploration and page time to be well developed and for a reader to get attached to them. It’s the fact that I liked them all that made their tragic fates even sadder. Despite knowing that they would meet their end, I still wasn’t prepared for the reality of it. I think it’s even more heartbreaking as their dynamic as a group was so well written and believable. They’re as close as sisters could be, relying on each other for everything as they navigate their sequestered childhood and their emotionally distant parents.

Another striking note within the novel was about mental health, specifically the mental health of women and how patriarchal norms played into the suppression of women who veered outside of expectations. I felt this intense sadness for many of the characters in the book, but especially Belinda, the Chapel matriarch. For the majority of the book, I wasn’t sure if she was genuinely being haunted by ghosts or if she was experiencing hallucinations but either way, something is clearly distressing her and the fact that nobody believes her is nothing short of heartbreaking. As you read on, you see just how much the male figures at the time controlled women’s life and health and if they went out of turn, they would get hospitalised, and at times indefinitely.
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At first, it was kinda slow but a proper one. It's kinda slow as it wants to build first the characters. Honestly, six daughters presence in this book reminds me of Pride & Prejudice but with a delirious mother. Okay, delirious mother, the beginning of the horror  chapter. But, it's kinda cliché when the mother kept giving warning that sounds "something bad is gonna happen". Horror scenes were adequate but it might felt scary if you read it at night.  Seems like exorcisms and some scenes were definitely lead to sadness and hollow.

As we progressed more, I noticed that this more onto family curse. Not so haunting-ish type. Still cool. Readers also were introduced on feminism theme which it touched on periods, marriage life, educations & woman's mental health perception. love how author mentioned women were always silenced and dismissed the statement for being women. men simply can't believe women just because women herself.

But the curse itself don't have a clear explainatory. I can assumed that because of the family created gun who killed a lot of people, some victims might curse upon this family to not continuing the generation.
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I received this from

"Iris flees the devastation of her family, and so begins the story of Sylvia Wren. But can she outrun the family curse forever? "

Good story, great writing. The characters felt real to me as they struggled through their trials and tribulations, although, I would have liked to have seen at least one male character who wasn't stupid, evil or predatory. I would definitely recommend this book but I doubt I will read this author again.

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The story begins with the famous artist Sylvia Wren who has lived hidden from the public's eye for quite awhile, but that all changes when a nosy journalist starts to question who Sylvia really is and what has her still fleeing from her past. We are then introduced to Iris Chapel, who is the second youngest of the six Chapel sister who are heiress's of the firearms fortune on their father's side. All six sisters have grown up in an old victorian house that looks like a wedding cake with only their rich father and their so called crazy mother. Their mother mother is certain that the house is being haunted by the victims of the Chapel weapons and as we follow the sister's lives we see that there is something that is haunting the women in the family. The sister's know that the only way out of the cursed house is to marry and start a family of their own but right when the oldest, Astor, starts to plan her wedding their mother warns that terrible things will happen. She is ignored by everyone but Iris who tries to help by stopping the wedding anyway she can but fails. Just as their mother predicted something terrible happened and Astor dies under mysterious circumstances that can't be explained. 

It took me a bit to really get into this book but once I was introduced to the whole family I was hooked. I love the character of Iris/Sylvia and her transformation into the famous American artist we met the beginning of the story. I really enjoyed the gothic atmosphere that the author painted when she allowed us inside the old victorian house and introduced us to all the sisters named after flowers. I actually started this book without really knowing what it was about other than a woman who was hiding from her past and I was intrigued when the mother warned her daughters about the horrible feeling she had if they ever got married. After the first daughter died I knew I was in for a ride of a story and was ready for everyone to start listening to their mother and Iris but of course that didn't happen. The author expertly brings up so many different themes including sexuality, feminism, family, and what it is to be a woman in a mans world. I found myself so enraged at so many parts in this book on behalf of Iris and her mother and that extreme emotion from me is thanks to the authors writing. I would recommend this book to any readers that love female narrators with gothic mystery.

Thank you to Netgalley and MarinerBooks for the digital copy of this book with me in exchange for an honest review.
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