Cover Image: The Cherry Robbers

The Cherry Robbers

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Member Reviews

The writing is beautiful, but I just really couldn’t get into it. I didn’t find myself liking the characters very much. However I see how lots of other people might enjoy this book and I would still recommend it to specific people. I might try again to read it in a few months…maybe it is just me.

Thank you to netgally, the author, and the publisher for this eARC in exchange for my honest opinion.
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This was my first book to read by this author but I cannot wait to read more! The characters stay with you long after you finish the book. Such a great story and fast read. Highly recommend!!!
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Wow.  I'm not sure I was prepared for this book.  I went into the book mostly blind, and not knowing what awaited me.  I was in for a pleasant surprise!  A gothic fiction is outside of my normal genre, but man.... I was in it 100 percent for this one!

A story about a firearms dynasty and the family that ultimately paid the price for its destruction.  Six girls, sisters with a Father who was always at work and a Mother who never wanted to be married or a mother.  Luckily they had each other, and they made the most of it.  Paired off by age in groups of 2, the girls lived a privileged life that was very different from others of that time.  They kept to themselves as their parents wanted no part of society.   Their mother, Belinda, had battled her demons since her mother died during childbirth.  As no one would question, each girl dreamed of the day she would be able to live her own life, away from their mad mother and a world with no outside social interaction.  

Once the girls find love, a kind of curse is unveiled.  Belinda has foreseen "that bad things will happen".  As the story unfolded, I was utterly captivated.  What, what, what in the heck was going to happen next?  Was this curse real?  When would it stop?  Was anyone immune?  Each of the daughters were well developed.  Each had her own strengths and weaknesses and I felt a tug towards each one.  The story of their ultimate demise is told through the voice of Iris, the fifth daughter, who is the only one to avoid the curse and who goes on to life outside of the family home.  She left the world of Iris behind and became Sylvia Wren.  A successful and well-renowned artist at the age of 80, she receives a letter informing her that her hidden identity has been discovered.  She relives the tragedies, the grief, and memories of the life she thought she left behind.

The story visits themes of family, feminism, sexuality, grief and expectations.  Although many questions go unanswered, I was left with a feeling of satisfaction.  The truth will never truly be known.  I was surprised at how vested I was in this story.  I finished this book in two days, not being able to put it down for long.  That is the mark of a great author - these characters and this story had me wanting more at every chapter.

An odd but strangely compelling read.  My heart was racing as I read on.  I definitely recommend this one.

Thank you to NetGalley and Mariner Books for this arc to read and review.
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Not my usual read, but I was pleasantly surprised! I enjoyed the pacing as well!  Gothic is such a hit or miss sometimes, but Sarai does a good job creating that feel.
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Enchantingly frightening. A Gothic delight!

This story is told through the lens of successful artist, and renound recluse, Sylvia Wren. From her sanctuary in New Mexico, Sylvia is forced to revisit her past and who she used to be.

She recounts her enchanting childhood living in a grand house with her father, five sisters and Balinda. The reader is introduced to a life so charmed in appearance, and so haunted in experience.

As descendents of the Chaple Firearms fortune, and kept in style by its money, Belinda has a premonition of catastrophe be falling her garden of daughters. Due to her reputation of being "mentally ill" and "insane," Belinda's warnings go unheaded. And one by one the flowers fade, unable to escape their calamitous fate.

This was a wonderful spooky read. All the components of a Gothic classic, with a wonderfully vintage back drop, and in the center a look at coming of age and into ones own womanhood, and how those can be different things.

I immensely enjoyed this novel. I both wanted to visit the Chapel sisters in "the girl's wing", and wanted to rescue them from their impending doom. The haunted characters and an inability to outrun the past make this a book you need to see through to the very last encounter.
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I had a very. mixed reaction to this novel. I LOVED the first section/introduction, and I found the writing immersive and really engaging. However, once the novel transitioned into the past and focused on the wealthy sisters and their languid lives in the 'wedding cake' mansion, the pacing slowed to such an extent that I found myself going days between picking up the eARC (and this in a book that I anticipated finishing in 2 days, max, based on the synopsis and opening pages). It took me ages to finish due to this pacing issue, and the fact that I really didn't care about the sisters and their privileged oppression. The frame story was still mostly great, though, and I appreciated the ghostly elements.
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Slow-paced and haunting, this novel follows Iris Chapel, now a famous feminist painter known as Sylvia Wren, as she remembers and records the traumatic past she fled. One of six daughters of a wealthy gun manufacturer and his wife (who is haunted by her own past), Iris watches as each one of her sisters dies mysteriously after marriages and relationships with men. The knowledge that each sister will eventually die does not lessen the suspense before each death. Although a little long and and too descriptive in places, it nevertheless has a satisfying conclusion.
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The bulk of story is told to us by Sylvia/Iris while she writes her memoirs in a journal.
The beginning of this story is very slow. Although some of the phrasing was absolutely beautiful, overall, I didn’t care for this author’s writing style. I didn’t like that we were given all the twists and important events upfront, and the story itself just slowly unfolded what we were already told would happen. To me, that killed the excitement and mystery of the novel. The book itself was haunting, dark, and depressing (as most good gothic novels are 😉) but this story just wasn’t for me. (And I usually love this genre.) I couldn’t get a real deep sense of any of the relationships and who the characters truly were. A lot of things seemed to be just surface deep. The ending was OK, but didn’t really explain anything. Basically, you were told it all up front, and any questions you did have while reading the story were never answered. 

Thank you Net Galley and the publisher for this digital arc in exchange for my honest review.

#NetGalley #TheCherryRobbers
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This novel did not hit for me. I did not finish after reading about 1/3. Early on, we learn that all of the narrator’s sisters died, so the slow unfolding isn’t particularly suspenseful or interesting to me.
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No hesitation in giving this 5 stars. Wow. I'm quite speechless. I want to say I devoured this novel, but this novel devoured me, truthfully. It's beautiful, haunting, and atmospheric, but at the same time actually took my breath away at times with the swift punch in the gut it delivered. This may actually be one of my new favorite books. It was so masterfully crafted and written, I can't stop thinking about the Chapel sisters. The novel has its drawbacks, it's told from a perspective that is incredibly privileged, but this novel doesn't attempt to, and I don't believe has to attempt to, address or battle all societal ills. It is very white, so i would appreciate some more diversity. I saw some readers had issues with the male characters, but i personally had none. I actually don’t think Walker portrayed the men as the grotesque exaggerated monsters some of the reviewers seem to see. I think Walker portrayed them exactly as a lot of men were at the time, ignorant and honestly indifferent to women’s, thoughts feelings and emotions, but still human people at the end of the day who make mistakes. And yes, sometimes they do hurt people, most especially women, and it’s ok to acknowledge that. Considering a large part of the story is the Chapel sisters limited interactions with men, I find it believable that a majority of the men they knew at the time did not value the ideas and inner workings of women. I don’t think it’s necessary to have a token “perfect” male character, because at the end of the day, this story is not about the men, but the Chapel sisters. It's just a beautiful story with some of the best, most visceral female characters I have ever read. I wish I could wipe it from my mind and re-read it again already. I can't wait to read Dietland after this, although I have high expectations after The Cherry Robbers. Thank you so much for letting me read this arc, I will be buying a physical copy when it does come out. I've never read another novel quite like The Cherry Robbers, and I have doubts I ever will. Just incredible.
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I had high expectations of this book going into it. I loved Walker’s previous novel and couldn’t wait to see what she would do next. This book is very different to Dietland, but it absolutely met all of my expectations. It was the kind of book where after the first chapter I had that warm feeling in my chest where I just KNOW I am going to love reading what I’m reading. 
Sylvia is a famous artist and renowned recluse. She lives quietly in New Mexico with her partner, Lola, but despite her happy existence when she is alone at night, the ghost that has followed herself, her sisters and her mother all their lives, is hot on her heels. When she receives a letter from a reporter asking about the Chapel sisters and in particular Iris Chapel, the only one left alive, Sylvia, for the first time, writes down the story of her life, the story of her sisters, the story of her mother and the story of when she was Iris Chapel. 
The atmosphere of the novel is very tense and gripping and the compulsion to read it all in one sitting is incredibly strong. I really loved the story and the unfolding mystery that doesn’t have a neat answer. Despite not taking place in a school it has real dark academia vibes and the way it uses the gothic storytelling to make points about the position of women is really subtle and interestingly done. 
I absolutely adored reading this. It is visceral, emotional and gripping and now more than ever I can’t wait to see what Walker does next.
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Sarai Walker does have one heck of way of telling a spooky tale and the Chapel sisters are a fun cast of characters to read along with. I say fun, in a sort of morbid, dreadfully sad, kind of way, but fun none the less. I can easily see this being an entertaining mini series with a whole host of enticing actresses entrenched in doom.

I thoroughly enjoyed the views of Iris, her conflicted feelings for her mother, and her deep love for her sisters and that twinge of guilt for not having the same love for her clearly absent father. I liked that the novel started with Iris in old age so we can at least have a light at the end of the tunnel knowing that as we read her dark past, that her life did end up being successful (however we define that) and that she found love. 

The overall premise and synopsis of the story, though intriguing, could have been delivered better. I found the mid chapter back and forth time hops to be mildly annoying and interruptive. We would start a chapter and be trucking right along, clearly having advanced in the timeline and then we would hop back for a bit of information that wasn't necessary or could have been provided in another manner with less detail and dragging. I also found the ending to be less then stellar, and it didnt really tie up all the loose ends,Some novels do well with leaving some suspense, this is not one of them.

Special thanks to NetGalley and Mariner Books for the copy.
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I haven’t read Sarai Walker’s first novel Dietland, nor watched the series based on it, but I know it has been described as “genre bending” and as “part-Fight Club, part feminist manifesto”. The Cherry Robbers shows the same enthusiasm for upending genre expectations to convey a strong feminist message.  The novel is, in fact, a send-up of the Gothic novel which incorporates tropes of the genre even while comically subverting them.

The narrator and protagonist in The Cherry Robbers is eighty-year-old lesbian painter Sylvia Wren.  After a career spent in and inspired by New Mexico and its landscape, Sylvia is a respected, well-known – and well-off – figure, even though she lives like a recluse and avoids publicity like a plague.  And for good reason too.  Sylvia has a well-kept secret. She is actually Iris Chapel, the second youngest of six daughters of an arms magnate, brought up in a palatial mansion in Connecticut.  When a journalist threatens to reveal this early chapter in her life, Sylvia/Iris decides to face her past and write down her memories of childhood and youth.  

Albeit largely left to their own devices by their distant father and their eccentric mother (prey to visions of the victims of weapons manufactured by the Chapel factories), the six sisters lead a privileged life in each other’s company.   When the eldest daughter becomes engaged to a dashing young man, her mother entreats her to cancel the wedding, prophesying tragedy.  Hardly anyone believes the mother’s rants, but tragedy does strike, in the most melodramatic of ways, after the wedding night.    History keeps repeating itself for the other sisters, a sure sign that not only is the Chapel mansion haunted, but the family itself also seems struck by a curse.  Will Iris manage to outrun it?

The Cherry Robbers reads like a version of The Virgin Suicides in which the voyeuristic male gaze of that novel’s rather morbid narrator is substituted with the voice of a feisty, self-deprecating, feminist heroine.  Walker’s novel is best approached as a deliberately OTT creation, painted in garish colours, with little attempt at nuance.  The central metaphor of the novel is hardly subtle.  All the male suitors are cartoonish, cardboard figures.  So are, up to a point, the Chapel sisters who readily sacrifice themselves to them.  Yet, the novel is still successful in its combination of comedy and horror, providing a refreshing take on well-worn Gothic tropes.  

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trigger warning
<spoiler> mention of infanticide, hospitalisation, mental illness, trauma, grief, misogyny, forced marriage, child neglect </spoiler>

Everybody thinks their mother just is weird and/or mentally unstable as she predicts terrible things to come shortly before her eldest daughter's marriage. Only Iris, the second youngest, believes her.

We have two timelines: 
- 2017, a reclusive artist gets intrusive messages by a journalist, hinting she found out about all of it
- 1950, six daughters growing up together in their parents' mansion, paid for by the money earned through selling firearms

From the beginning, there is this contant dread going on and you know there will be disaster, but not which form it will take. 
And from the beginning, we know that the six sisters are unhappy with their cloistered life. They're neglected by their parents, their father thinking it's a womans job - well, in the 1950-ies it was - and the mother simply not caring and staring into space. The servants, a cook and a housekeeper, try to help out as much as needed, but they can't replace two people who are physically there.

There is this weird thing where the sisters could potentially get everything due to their wealth, but in fact, don't. They go to school, maybe have piano lessons, and are only allowed to meet a few approved friends. So they grow even tighter, which makes leaving even harder.

In general, this book reminds me a bit of Lemony Snicket, or rather the "this book is very gloomy, if you don't want to read that, look away". 

It appears I devoured it in two sittings and will make sure to look up Dietland by the same author. 
I can't really say I enjoyed my read, because it was dark and grim and full of tension, but on the other hand, it was exactly what I was promised and what I wanted.
It's always nice when those two match up.

The arc was provided by the publisher.
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I did enjoy this book, at first. It is written really well. The detail and descriptions in the book really drew me in. The mystery behind the curse was thrilling and heartbreaking at the same time. These were girls that I grew to adore in the few chapters they were in. My issue came after I put the book down and thought about it for a minute. The message behind the curse left a sour taste in my mouth. I do not want to put spoilers into the review, but it has been said on other reviews that I read. I wanted to make sure it was not just something I picked up on. For that, I had to knock it a star. Overall, it was beautifully written with compelling characters and a not-so-great message.
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This is my first time reading an explicitly feminist and lesbian book so I was very curious. I love gothic novels and magical realism, and I’m a woman, so I expected to enjoy the ride. 
The writing is fantastic, the pace, the slow building dread with the imminent foreshadowing, tense atmosphere, looming terrors, the notion of tethering on the brink of change… I loved it. But the message felt dated, like the aggressive feminism of the 70s, like no men in the world can possibly be a decent human being. I guess I hadn’t expected that. In general I don’t like black/white portrayals of the world.
 I grew a little tired of meeting every single male character and wondering: how is this one going to be disappointing?
Given the nature of the family curse I think this was overkill. I thought that said a lot already and was such an intriguing idea… but to me it needed more fleshing out and complexity and less agenda. I felt like the book lost a lot of its heart to the profit of a slogan… and I hate being preached too, no matter how good the message is. 
So I feel a little at a loss, the writing was good, the story gripped me but I ended growing tired of the ride, probably because it was a little repetitive. I think I would feel the same about a book with a political or religious agenda. This would be a 3.5 stars for me.
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Well, this is a cool one. Maybe my new favourite. 
The book starts with our protagonist, old and in 2017. At first I was confused about how she was talking about herself, like if she was super different from the rest. Two chapters later I realized that's completely justified. 
When I tell you I do not cry usually while reading, I mean it, but this one broke me. I felt the frustration, nostalgia, sadness... I didn't need the author to tell me how Iris (the main character) felt, because I understood her completely. Going almost to the end, I would put less details about the paintings she's studying, but its not that annoying either. 
And the end. I was so sad that the story, and eventually Iris life too, was ending...! I loved every character, every scenario, every page of the book. 
Maybe some people could think that this book is some paranormal story and that's all, but it's anything like that. Yes, you won't know exactly how every tragedy happened, but that's what happens to the characters too. You are one more inside the story.
Im willing to see these book on libraries soon, I got the feeling that it may be a bestseller.
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A delightfully gothic Autumn read with feminist undertones, I was pleasantly surprised by The Cherry Robbers. The reader is reminded of Rebecca, Sarah Winchester and Georgia O'Keefe in all the best ways.
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Story of the book-
This is an account of a group of little girls and a curse. The story starts with Sylvia Wren, a widely acclaimed artist living in New Mexico. Sylvia gets a letter one day from a journalist who has been examining her life and finds that Sylvia probably won’t be who she said she is. Sylvia has been living furtively under her name for more than 60 years, however growing up she was known as Iris Chapel, of the acclaimed Chapel Rifle family. The book then speaks to 6 young ladies: Aster, Rosalind, Calla, Daphne, Irus, and Hazel (Zelie), all named after blossoms. They spend their childhood in CT in a hug house they call the wedding cake and are left to their gadgets. Their mom Belinda is exceptionally withdrawn from her children like she never wanted to be a mother or a spouse, and their dad is continually working. Furthermore, Belinda accepts unequivocally in apparitions and that the phantoms of individuals who kicked the bucket on account of the Chapel Rifle frequent they're home.

The young ladies are for the most part seen as weird people around as they mind their own business in their enormous house. The young ladies frequently talked about going out one day and getting away and Aster and Rosalind as the oldest among them are nearest to this reality. On a family excursion to Cape Cod one summer, Aster meets Mathew Maybrick, with whom she gets romantically attached. She eventually chooses to wed him. In this manner starts the fall of the Chapel sisters. As Aster draws nearer to her wedding date, Belinda starts to smell roses ad gets exceptionally sick, an indication of a terrible sign. She is persuaded that if Aster weds Mathew, something horrible will occur to her. The book follows the tale of these six sisters and their definitive destinies.

My review-
The author’s composing is alluring and would look at the reader’s internal serenity, making pressure inside them, the same as Sylvia Wren feels. I was on the edge through the vast majority of the book, battling Sylvia’s evil demons and attempting to discover answers to questions that are ultimately left unanswered, or better said, passed into the reader’s translation. Sylvia Wren, a mainstream women’s activist artist, has a dim mystery she isn’t who she professes to be and has figured out how to keep her shocking past covered until she is stood up to by a journalist who knows her genuine identity and needs to bring it out to the general population. This is a gothic story, a contemplation of sadness and endurance, and on a great deal of customary womanliness, the bounty is going on here yet it never feels like it is working under its plan. Furthermore, figuring out how to be both lovely and appalling turns out to be well throughout. It is outright amazing.

The composition is rich and each character is completely acknowledged. The casing story is of a more philosophical and passionate bowed. The story is flawless, yet I will concede I may have wanted all the more a startling horror stay outcome. This book felt like an investigation of the female brain and sexuality- on an excursion through the wild landscape of cultural standards and the view of the more attractive gender during the 1950s. The author figures out how to ingrain frightfulness in her readers- the repulsiveness of not being cherished, the tenseness that accompanies realizing that the readers will never perceive and will perpetually be restricted in the place where there is disliked and broken. There are horrors in this book however it’s onto the readers to choose whether these apparitions are genuine or inventions of creative mind made by sorrow, uneasiness, and long periods of concealment. I am taking as much time as necessary to retain the story and make my derivations, and it is beautiful.
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My feelings about The Cherry Robbers are so torn.  On the one hand, I couldn't put the book down.  I loved the Victorian gothic tone and the tense feeling of doom throughout the story.  The atmosphere the author built, as well as the relationship between the six sisters, was engrossing.  On the other hand, I'm growing weary of all the recent "feminist" books treating male characters at best, as two-dimensional stereotypes unworthy of the female characters, and at worst, as controlling brutes that only want to stifle or hurt women.  I would also have appreciated a heads up in the description about the book's focus on multiple lesbian relationships.  My last issue with the book are all of the unanswered questions it left me with.  I feel like I never got a satisfying conclusion.

Thank you to NetGalley and Mariner Books for access to this arc.
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