Sour Cherry

Natalia Theodoridou

The tale begins with Agnes. After losing her baby, Agnes is called to the great manor house to nurse the local lord’s baby boy. But something is wrong with the child: his nails grow too fast, his skin smells of soil, and his eyes remind her of the dark forest. As he grows into a boy, then into man, a plague seems to follow him everywhere. Trees wither at the roots, fruits rot on their branches, and the town turns to desperation. The man takes a wife, who bears him a son. But tragedy strikes in cycles and his family is forced to consider their own malignancy—until wife after wife, death after death, plague after plague, every woman he touches becomes a ghost. The ghosts become a chorus, and they call urgently to our narrator as she tries to explain, in our very real world, exactly what has happened to her. The ghosts can all agree on one thing, an inescapable truth about this man, this powerful lord who has loved them and led them each to ,ruin: if you leave, you die. But if you die, you stay.

Natalia Theodoridou’s haunting and unforgettable debut novel, Sour Cherry, confronts age-old systems of gender and power, long-held excuses made for bad men, and the complicated reasons we stay captive to the monsters we love.