Author: Jesmyn Ward
Published by: Scribner on Oct. 3, 2023
Genres: Historical Fiction
Format: ARC, Paperback
Source: Simon & Schuster Canada
Book Rating: 9/10
Let Us Descend is a reimagining of American slavery, as beautifully rendered as it is heart-wrenching. Searching, harrowing, replete with transcendent love, the novel is a journey from the rice fields of the Carolinas to the slave markets of New Orleans and into the fearsome heart of a Louisiana sugar plantation.
Annis, sold south by the white enslaver who fathered her, is the reader’s guide through this hellscape. As she struggles through the miles-long march, Annis turns inward, seeking comfort from memories of her mother and stories of her African warrior grandmother. Throughout, she opens herself to a world beyond this world, one teeming with of earth and water, of myth and history; spirits who nurture and give, and those who manipulate and take. While Ward leads readers through the descent, this, her fourth novel, is ultimately a story of rebirth and reclamation.
From one of the most singularly brilliant and beloved writers of her generation, this miracle of a novel inscribes Black American grief and joy into the very land—the rich but unforgiving forests, swamps, and rivers of the American South. Let Us Descend is Jesmyn Ward’s most magnificent novel yet, a masterwork for the ages.
Haunting, poignant, and impactful!
Let Us Descend is an atmospheric, moving tale that sweeps you away to North Carolina during the mid-1800s and into the life of Annis, a young woman of mixed race trained by her mother in more than just servitude who, after being sold one year after her beloved Mama, is forced in chains on a gruelling march from the rice fields she’s only ever known to the sugar plantations of New Orleans where with a little help from the spirit world beyond she endures extreme hardships and brutal savagery until she can find an opportunity to finally slip free.
The prose is eloquent and expressive. The characters are vulnerable, scarred, and strong. And the plot is an exceptionally enthralling tale about life, loss, strength, bravery, hope, survival, violence, injustice, racism, slavery, and death, all interwoven with a thread of the supernatural.
Overall, Let Us Descend is an enchanting blend of historical facts, powerful fiction, and heart-wrenching emotion that does a wonderful job of reminding us that even under the most cruel and barbaric conditions, humanity can be incredibly resilient, compassionate, and kind.
This novel is available now.
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Thank you to Simon & Schuster Canada for gifting me a copy in exchange for an honest review.