Cover Image: On the Savage Side

On the Savage Side

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Member Reviews

There are not enough words to truly depict how heavy and amazing this book was. I was lucky enough to read it as a buddy read. So I was able to get through it with help from bookstagram friends. All the stars for this one.
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Book review: 'On the Savage Side' an important survival story
Ashley Riggleson Mar 25, 2023

Since I have never read any of Tiffany McDaniel’s novels, I was unsure how I would feel going into her latest book, “On the Savage Side.” Although it was a challenging read, I loved it, and I hope more people read it.

Set in Chillicothe, Ohio, “On the Savage Side” tells the story of twin girls called Arcade and Daffodil. Daffy loves plants and swimming, and Arc loves to dig. She uses the stories of the past to give context and hope to their daily lives. Both girls are vibrant and full of life, but it is also clear from the start that something is not right. They draw pictures on the floor of their home while their mother, who is later revealed to be a drug addict and a sex worker, stays in bed all day. Their only respite is days spent with their grandmother, Mawmaw Milkweed, a woman with a beautiful spirit who teaches the girls how to survive their difficult situation. But when Mawmaw Milkweed is killed in a tragic accident, the fragile happiness the girls have built for themselves shatters. And readers should know that child molestation and neglect are key parts of the plot.

But there is more. Readers also follow Arc and Daffy as adults. They are now drug addicts and sex workers themselves, and the streets are more dangerous than ever. It soon becomes clear that a serial killer is murdering sex workers and dumping their bodies into a nearby river. The girls come across many different dangerous people in the ordinary course of their lives, and McDaniel skillfully points the finger at these different men in turn, which creates an extremely tense plot.

“On the Savage Side” is an important novel that examines how poverty and mental illness can impact generations of people. It is also quite a beautiful book about endurance and survival.

But readers should know going in that it is quite dark. Most dark novels do not bother me, but, despite the many beautiful parts of this text, I found it extremely unsettling. And I have not been able to stop thinking about it since.

On the other hand, this novel is so multilayered that it lends itself to book club discussions, and I am sure that readers will be as riveted as I was.

This review was originally printed in The Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, VA.
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Arc Dogs and Daphodil are twins subject to a family intrenched in addiction. Addiction takes their father from them and though, their mother and aunt remain, they are taken from the girls too as they continue their struggles with addiction. Mama Milkweed is the only adult in they have who works hard to bring something beautiful to their lives. She raises them on fanciful tales, centering the strength of women, to help the girls paint their difficult lives in magical colors. 

I don't know how to talk about The Savage Side without talking about the McDaniel-reading-experience. Anyone who has read Tiffany McDaniel knows you have to be made of strong stuff to make it through any of her novels. I like to think her fan club (which I consider myself a part of) to consist of readers who are just built different. The first thing I thought when I saw this ARC come through was "alright fuck me up McDaniel! I'm ready to hurt again." That isn't normal right? 

The Savage Side was exactly what I expected from McDaniel style-wise. Gorgeous writing that brings you in with its sirens call only to drown you when you go get too close. I was nearly drowned more than once before this heartbreaking novel concluded. 

In a storyline where women go missing and turn up dead in the river, what I didn't anticipate was the exploration of women losing themselves only to die lost. I couldn't stop thinking about this idea and the way it was woven into this story and so many stories like it. It isn't really a hopeful theme to think on, but it is true to the story of so many women and it connected me deeply with the women who were born lost with no help or resources to find themselves before its too late.

McDaniels has done it again. This review is basically just an open letter to the bold stories this author writes in a no-holds-barred way that refuses to fade to black when things get too bleak.

Thank you ro Netgalley and Knopf publishing for the ARC. On the Savage Side is available now!
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I wanted to love this novel. I am a big true crime fan and listen to true crime podcasts daily so a fictionalized novel based on real crimes that took place in Ohio was right up my alley. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get into the writing style. It was just too dense for me.
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This book left me devastated. Tiffany McDaniel’s writing is truly beautiful and poetic, while the subject matter is deeply tragic. McDaniel’s is quickly becoming my favorite author. I will read every thing she writes! Thank you so much to NetGalley and Knopf publishing for the E-Copy in exchange for my honest review.
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When I saw this was “read now” on NetGalley I immediately snatched it up. Betty has been on my TBR for so long I knew I had to give this one a shot. And WOOF. Guys this one is not for the faint of heart. 

I loved: Arc as a character and how much she wanted to be better, her and Daffy’s relationship and imagination, how the women were honored thru the book as forces of nature, the attention it brings to the horrible cyclical nature of addiction and the NARRATION 😍 incredible. 

What I didn’t love: this book was so long and that honestly was the only reason I didn’t give it 5 stars. 

If you’re looking for a cute, fun read - this one is not for you. I quite literally felt devastated reading this one but I’m so glad I did.
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Heartbreaking, incredible read. Tiffany McDaniels story telling is captivating and a must read for anyone that wants to get sucked into a great book. Highly recommend!
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Wow.  I'll start by saying that this book has ALL the content warnings.  So many.  Quite possibly more than any book I've ever read before.  It is heavy.  It is dark.  Just be sure you are in a good headspace before diving into this one, because it's.....a lot.

As a fan of Tiffany McDaniel's previous book, Betty, I was really excited to read On the Savage Side.  I actually went into it without any idea of what it would be about, so I truly had no idea what to expect.  What I got was a novel about abandonment, neglect, poverty, very heavy drug use and abuse, torture, and death.  

This book is extremely heavy and depressing.  There are very, very few bright spots, and the few bright spots that are there are purely in the two main characters' memories of the past.  Because of the heaviness and the content, I found this book to be a very slow read.  I had to take in the content slowly and sit with it.  I found myself thinking of the characters even after I would put the book down, my heart just aching for them.

I am not someone that really has "triggers" when reading a book (with the exception of animal abuse), so despite my mention of so many content warnings, they did not present an issue for me in terms of making the book impossible to read or causing anxiety or anything like that.  However, it was challenging to read all of the scenes depicting such heavy drug use, as I have a close family member that suffered with drug problems throughout my life.  It was interesting because seeing the experience the young women in this book went through, it actually made me grateful that my childhood was nowhere near that bad.  It made me really how much worse things could have been without a healthy support system.  

Also, if you have ever looked at addicts with disdain, disgust, or just thought poorly of them, this book will likely give you a different perspective.  It is heartwrenching and awful to see all the ways people can be led down a path where they become addicted to drugs, and so often it starts from a place of deep hurt, sadness, and struggle..  This book explores all of that as well as how those behaviors can be passed from generation to generation.  

The book also explored the way women are viewed and treated and often seen as less than or disposable.  It was sickening, and even though it felt so far from the reality I've lived, every word of it rang as true and believeable.  It left me feeling so heartbroken for people whose lives go that direction while also so grateful for the live I've had.  

Even though this book was so heartbreaking to read and left me feeling down, it was a very well-written book with an important story to tell.  If you can handle heavy (and I mean HEAVY) content, then I highly recommend this book.  

Thank you to NetGalley and Knopf for the e-arc in exchange for my honest review.
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Thank you to NetGalley, the publisher, and Tiffany McDaniel for giving me the opportunity to read this book. 

It is hard to put into words just how deeply this book affected me. This book embodies just how difficult it is to be a woman in the world. The narrator’s voice was so unique that it just pulled me into his world and refused to let me go until I knew how it ended.
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1⭐ DNF too disturbing!

Twins Arc & Daffy are passed down, dope addicts.
The book is being narrated by Arcade (Arc) in such a way that from the very start, I thought  what am I reading?  

This is not a mystery/thriller, which is what I was expecting going into this book.
Even though this was inspired by very real unsolved murders of the Chillicothe Six, it just felt like a horrific feverish dream, where everything that happens someone wrote poetry about it. The subject matter is not for the faint of heart. My heart was breaking in chapter one and I felt like crawling out of my skin.

This is absolutely not a bad book, or bad writing,  but I really can't say who I'd recommend it to. It’s written like a wild fantasy ride, a bit lyrical and poetic which may be great for others.
 Warnings: substance abuse, addiction, solicitation, animal abuse, violence, gore, sexual assault (including the repeated on-page rape of a child),, miscarriage, murder.
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Dnf @6% 
I tried to enjoy the story and keep reading it, but it was so hard and rough for me or it just i have a bad time to read this kind of book. Because honestly the book is beautiful and lyrical written. 
Will consider try to read it again later
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I was so profoundly moved by the message and plotline in this article and am seriously so thankful to Knopf Books, NetGalley, and Tiffany McDaniel for granting me access to this magnificent read before it was set to publish to the public. I always appreciate well-done literary fiction, and I definitely count On the Savage Side as a well-done publication.
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I made it 20%. Actually I made it 5% reading this copy and knew I wasn't totally feeling it but wanted to continue to try so I used an audio credit and started listening. Nope, couldn't do it. I absolutely LOVED Betty so I was super eager to read On the Savage Side but it didn't have the same direction, the same heart. I also usually love stories that focus on women/sisters but something was just missing. I'm not going to post about it because I don't think I made it far enough nor would I have anything positive to say.
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I am the outlier. Please pick this up because this book is heartbreakingly beautiful. If you can get past all the content warnings (they are super heavy) it will make you cry because it is dark. I was in love with this book up to 60% and fell off afterwards. Mainly because it felt like 60% was written by McDaniel and 40% was written by someone else. McDaniel’s has this poetic infused writing style that just had me drawn. Everything was so vivid and brought the story to life. I really enjoyed the twins early life with their Mamaw Milkweed and will cherish those memories versus the other ones. I was expecting more of a mystery read because of the synopsis but was definitely more than that and less mysterious. If you can push through this one, you won’t believe the twist at the ending. 

Although this is my first book from McDaniel, it will not be my last. I need to get my hands on Betty since it seems to be the fan favorite.
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Devastated to write that I could just not find myself getting into this book. McDaniel’s previous work has delved into dark and painful subject matter before, much of which comes directly from events that unfolded in real life. Both of her previous works were some of the most exquisitely written novels I have ever read. Unfortunately, the writing in this book is just not up to par with McDaniel’s other work, and that ultimately meant that the dark and tragic subject matter felt horrid in a deeply unrewarding way.
I am still excited for this author’s future work, but this one just didn’t satisfy me.
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Thank you NetGalley for giving everyone a voice and I do hope mine is heard.  

As for Knopf, Pantheon, Vintage, and Anchor, Knopf here is what I think of On the Savage Side, and would really like to know who your market was for this garbage.  

Published:  02/14/23

Disappointment is an understatement.  There was a story being presented.  However, the author chose to take her writing from filthy profanity with the politically correct forced on me F-bombs (and I do believe if you think it, you say it.) to the 2020ish trend of women's genitalia being acceptable.
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I read this book e-book as an ARC delivered to my kindle tbrough NetGally. The cover and title both caught my eye. After reading the description, I knew this would be a story I would enjoy and it did not dissapoint. It was a quick read, as it was easy to follow provided many details. I did not realize how much drug use and description of this would be involved, but I know it was important for the storyline. I loved the characters of Arc and Daffy and did not expect the ending. I would absolutely would recommend this book to a friend!
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This is a very poignant book, but also one that is very difficult to get through. There’s really no happiness to grab onto, although that is kind of the point.
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Tiffany McDaniel remains the queen of my heart. I will eagerly await (albeit impatiently) the next novel. On the Savage Side was everything I could hope for in a book. New favorite.
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This is a dark and twisted story but written in a very poetic way.  I found the writing to be beautiful but at times distracting.  I think I prefer a grittier style than lyrical prose.  This was definitely a gutting story and at times so hard to read but definitely worth picking up.
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