“Black Sheep” by Rachel Harrison: Hell of a Ride

Nobody has a “normal” family, but Vesper Wright’s is truly…something else. Vesper left home at eighteen and never looked back—mostly because she was told that leaving the staunchly religious community she grew up in meant she couldn’t return. But then an envelope arrives on her doorstep. 

 Inside is an invitation to the wedding of Vesper’s beloved cousin Rosie. It’s to be hosted at the family farm. Have they made an exception to the rule? It wouldn’t be the first time Vesper’s been given special treatment. Is the invite a sweet gesture? An olive branch? A trap? Doesn’t matter. Something inside her insists she go to the wedding. Even if it means returning to the toxic environment she escaped. Even if it means reuniting with her mother, Constance, a former horror film star and forever ice queen.

 When Vesper’s homecoming exhumes a terrifying secret, she’s forced to reckon with her family’s beliefs and her own crisis of faith in this deliciously sinister novel that explores the way family ties can bind us as we struggle to find our place in the world.

“Black Sheep” by Rachel Harrison is simply a hell of a ride. The story takes you on a sinister narrative about how family ties can keep us from being our full selves and the restrictive nature of religion and faith. From the very beginning, as soon as Vesper is introduced, you know something isn’t quite right. As soon as we are introduced to her fundamentalist Satanist cult of a family, we know exactly what is happening or do we?  The surprises and revelations within the novel are what make this story so compelling.

Vesper struggles and that is part of what makes her character so intriguing. She loves her family even as she rebels against their restrictions. But it is the revelations and secrets that they keep from her that make for the sinister pace and compelling story as Vesper tries to escape her father and the influence of both him and her mother, of her upbringing. Whether supernatural or not, this story demonstrates that sometimes the love of family can be suffocating. 

If you love stories about the supernatural and the devil, this novel will be a hell of a ride. It is compelling and Vesper is charismatic in her rebellious nature. The themes of family, religion and faith are revelatory and will make readers think. I love the pace of the story and how Vesper discovers the truth about her father, her family and herself, and how strong she really is when she cuts ties with her family and their restrictions. 

Rating: 5 out of 5 sheep

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