Gather the Daughters

A Novel


Read by Laurence Bouvard

By Jennie Melamed

Formats and Prices



  1. Audiobook Download (Unabridged)
  2. ebook $2.99 $2.99 CAD
  3. Trade Paperback $15.99 $20.99 CAD

This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around July 25, 2017. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.

Never Let Me Go meets The Giver in this haunting debut about a cult on an isolated island, where nothing is as it seems.

Years ago, just before the country was incinerated to wasteland, ten men and their families colonized an island off the coast. They built a radical society of ancestor worship, controlled breeding, and the strict rationing of knowledge and history. Only the Wanderers — chosen male descendants of the original ten — are allowed to cross to the wastelands, where they scavenge for detritus among the still-smoldering fires.

The daughters of these men are wives-in-training. At the first sign of puberty, they face their Summer of Fruition, a ritualistic season that drags them from adolescence to matrimony. They have children, who have children, and when they are no longer useful, they take their final draught and die. But in the summer, the younger children reign supreme. With the adults indoors and the pubescent in Fruition, the children live wildly — they fight over food and shelter, free of their fathers’ hands and their mothers’ despair. And it is at the end of one summer that little Caitlin Jacob sees something so horrifying, so contradictory to the laws of the island, that she must share it with the others.

Born leader Janey Solomon steps up to seek the truth. At seventeen years old, Janey is so unwilling to become a woman, she is slowly starving herself to death. Trying urgently now to unravel the mysteries of the island and what lies beyond, before her own demise, she attempts to lead an uprising of the girls that may be their undoing.

Gather the Daughters is a smoldering debut; dark and energetic, compulsively readable, Melamed’s novel announces her as an unforgettable new voice in fiction.



Vanessa dreams she is a grown woman, heavy with flesh and care. Her two limber, graceful daughters are dancing and leaping on the shore as she watches from the grass where the sand ends. Their dresses flutter chalk-white, like apple flesh or a sun-bleached stone. A calescent sun shatters on the surface of the water, luminous shards slipping about on the tiny waves like a broken, sparkling film. One daughter stops to turn and wave wildly, and Vanessa, her heart aching with love, waves back. The girls clasp each other’s forearms and spin in a circle, shrieking with laughter, until they collapse on the sand.

Rising and conferring with their heads close together, they hike up their dresses to wade into the sea. Don’t go too far! calls Vanessa, but they pretend not to hear. Walking wide-legged like awkward herons, wetting their hems, they peer into the water for fish and crabs, until the younger one turns back and yells, We’re going to swim, Mother!

But you can’t swim! Vanessa cries frantically. Heedless, they crash into the water and begin paddling away, kicking their slender legs and thrashing with their hands. Swiftly, borne by a powerful current, they grow smaller and smaller. Vanessa tries to run to the edge of the sea, but her feet are stuck fast, woven into the ground like tree roots, her legs paralyzed as dead stumps. She opens her mouth to call them back, but instead of urging her daughters back to shore, she finds herself screaming, Swim faster! Get away from here, get out, now! The sun vanishes and the sea turns dark, roiling and spitting, and their beloved faces shrink to motes. Vanessa clenches her fists, closes her eyes, and shrieks, Never come back here again! I’ll kill you if you come back here! I swear I’ll fucking kill you both! The girls disappear into the horizon, and Vanessa drops her face into her hands and weeps.

Thief, whispers a voice that seems to come from everywhere, echoing and groaning in her rib cage. Blasphemer. The ground softens, and she falls through a sea of dark slime into the raging black fire of the darkness below. Her bones snap like sticks. Rotating her head violently on a broken neck, she sees her daughters writhing next to her, their straight, slim legs bending and shattering as their white dresses burn.

Then Father is there, shaking her, holding her. “Vanessa, relax,” he says as she trembles and whimpers. “It’s just a dream.” She loosens her fists and sees, in the gray dawn light, that she has cut small, dark crescents into her palms.

“What were you dreaming about?” asks Father sleepily.

“I can’t remember,” she replies, and no matter how often the dream comes back to haunt her, smearing and dissolving hotly in her brain as she gasps and claws her way to consciousness, she always tells him she can’t remember. She knows instinctively it is not something to be freely given away to adults, like a flower or an embrace. This dream, the dark embodiment of blasphemy, is a shameful secret rooted strongly as a tooth or a fingernail. And Father, muttering vaguely as he kisses her sweaty brow, never tries to wrest it from her.

Sometimes, in the drowsy mornings after, she gazes at Mother and wonders what she would call out if Vanessa were swimming away from her, toward the wastelands.



Chapter One


The long spelling lesson is done, and Mr. Abraham is now talking about soaking and curing leather. As he rambles on about techniques for concentrating urine, Vanessa inhales lightly and cautiously, as if her lungs are about to be scalded by the acrid smell of leather curing in its vats. The half-vinegar, half-musk scent hangs in the air for weeks in early spring, and she’s already decided she will never marry or even live near a tanner. Keeping her eyes open and her face attentive, she drifts off into daydreams of summer. When Letty reaches back to scratch a shoulder blade and drops a note on her desk, Vanessa jolts into the present. Using her bitten nails to pick open the small package, she reads:

Do you think it was her first time?

Half an hour ago, Frieda Joseph burst into tears while trying to spell “turnip.” They weren’t tears of frustration, but big, dry, gulping sobs like she’d been punched in the throat. Mr. Abraham took her out of the classroom for a while. He must have sent her home, because he returned without her.

Frieda’s chair sits naked and prominent. All the girls around it are carefully looking in another direction. There’s a bloodstain on the wood, bright and ragged, with a dark, crusting drop on the floor. Everyone knows it wasn’t there yesterday.

Vanessa is silent, lost in memory, and Letty shifts in her seat and eventually turns to cast her a questioning look. Annoyed, Vanessa shrugs curtly at her.

Letty faces front again and flakes off a tiny corner of paper. She writes something with the thin charcoal pencil, stretches extravagantly, and drops it on Vanessa’s desk.

Vanessa snatches the paper and cradles it in her lap, squinting. The charcoal is smudged and she can barely make out the words: What a baby. I didn’t cry my first time.

Vanessa bites her tongue in exasperation. Carefully separating a piece of paper from her sheaf, she writes, Liar. Stretching forward, she drops it on Letty’s lap like a little yellow butterfly. Letty shoots Vanessa a hurt look and then assiduously turns toward Mr. Abraham and fakes interest. Vanessa begins winding the ends of her braid through her fingers, wishing she were outside, running.

All the girls wear braids, smooth and sinuous over their shoulders, and they toy with them when nervous or excited. It’s a deeply ingrained fidget, and when girls turn to women and put their hair up, their fingers flutter uselessly in the air as they try to remember what is missing. Hems are another favorite target for irritable fingers, and it is a rare girl’s dress that bears a neat, well-stitched edge. Today they are dressed in whatever their mothers saw fit for May, which leaves some chilly and some sweltering. A few of the dresses are pink from berry juice and others yellow from roots, while some are simply the undyed off-white of light wool. The dresses are smudged and stained, darkened at the armpits and splattered with the remnants of messy eating. Summertime is for intensive weaving and sewing, and the dresses will either be let out or let down, firmly scrubbed and reused, or given to a family with a younger girl. While the older girls often wear new, fresh dresses, the younger ones are always swimming in threadbare smocks ready to fall apart.

As Mr. Abraham drones on, Vanessa wishes there was enough paper for drawing, but the wanderers decided a few years ago that the island should produce its own paper, instead of relying on leftover sheaves from the wastelands. Mr. Joseph the arborer has been experimenting, but this year’s batch is an extravagant failure; the paper crumbles and separates almost at a touch. Even so, they know better than to waste it. When Bobby Solomon drew a sheep breathing fire on one of his sheets, his teacher Mr. Gideon whipped him so badly he limped for days.

The clock seems to run slower when three o’clock approaches, the hands creeping and stuttering. Vanessa wonders if Mr. Abraham remembered to wind it this morning. It’s a beautiful thing, beaten from wasteland copper and full of the tiniest gears and wheels possible, like infinitesimal tawny beetles, so small they could fit on a forefinger. As much as Pastor Saul likes to talk about sin and war, Vanessa can’t help but think that they were doing something right in the wastelands if they invented such miraculous devices.

Gabriel Solomon brought some parts to school last year, filched from his clockmaker father, who received the precious objects from the wanderers. The children gathered around, always impressed by wasteland goods, begging to touch the miniature glimmering shapes. Sometimes when Vanessa sees the stars, she imagines little sprockets and gears from a broken clock, flung up into the black. She wishes her father were a clockmaker, even though a wanderer is much more important. The holy wanderer walks the wastelands without becoming part of the disease, Pastor Saul likes to say. Vanessa once asked her mother which disease he was talking about, but Mother didn’t know. She asked Father, and he talked of the diseases that ravaged the wastelands after the war. He wouldn’t tell her about the war itself, though; he never does. Vanessa has attempted various charming ways to ask Father questions—he likes her cleverness, but despite her efforts, he refuses to discuss it. She can’t find anything about it in their library either. Everything that ever happened must be in books, somewhere, but none of the ones she has access to have proved helpful.

Finally the clock reaches five to three. Mr. Abraham erases the large slate in the front of the classroom, wiping clean the chalky detritus of learning, and the children stand automatically with their heads bowed and hands clasped. Ceremoniously, Mr. Abraham takes down a copy of Our Book, the only book ever written on the island. It’s handwritten on wasteland paper and bound in the strongest leather, but he still has to use a finger to keep loose pages from fluttering to the ground like dead, holy leaves.

“From the fires of wickedness we grew forth, like a green branch from a rotten tree,” he reads. “From the wastelands of want came the hardworking men of industry and promise. From the war-stricken terror came our forefathers to keep us safe from harm.” Like everyone else, Vanessa mouths the words along with him. “From the cleansed and ravaged dust of the scourge came the flowerings of faith and a new way. With the ancestors to guide us, we will grow and prosper on a straight and narrow path. O ancestors, the sanctified first ten, plead with God on our behalf, and save us from impurity. Amen.”

“Amen,” repeat the girls. They file quietly out of the room and then scatter, their heels clacking on the wooden floor like a handful of pebbles tossed to the ground. The girls mingle with the other classes, streams of boys in ragged pants and long shirts, younger children shrieking and running happily ahead. Sarah Moses catches Vanessa’s arm as they run down the stairs and into the humid air.

“I bet it will rain soon,” Sarah says, squinting up at the hazy sky. Her hair is frizzy with moisture and outlines her head in a jagged halo.

“It’s not even June,” Vanessa replies crossly. “It never rains before June.”

“The woodbirds are burrowing into the trees already,” Sarah says gleefully. “Mother says that’s a sign. Tom’s been sharpening rocks all winter.”

Vanessa rolls her eyes. Tom Moses has dreams of making weapons, but so far all he’s ever done is throw rocks and dart away, hooting. “Shouldn’t he be helping your father weave?” she asks Sarah pointedly.

“He does,” Sarah says. “We’ve made lots of cloth this winter, Mr. Aaron’s thread is good this year. We’ll have mountains after summer. The new sheep they brought from the wastelands really helped. Sometimes the lambs are speckled.”

“I know,” Vanessa answers. Everyone went to stare at the spotted lambs when they emerged from their mothers. Grown, they look like they’re splattered with mud, although the rains haven’t started yet. “Does that mean the thread is brown?”

“Kind of tan,” Sarah says. “Not dirty-looking, just different.” Vanessa nods thoughtfully, wondering if the wanderers had to round up each sheep separately, or if they’d stumbled across a whole pen of them. New animals are rare, but this was a stroke of luck; about half of the lambs on the island had begun dying from some unknown illness, and the wool had been brittle and weak for years.

Despite the damp warmth, Vanessa enjoys her walk home. Blackbirds are muttering in the trees, and the tall, slender grasses shiver with unseen animal life below; the rhythmic swoop of a rabbit or the whispering rustle of a hunting cat. Dodging the fields of shorter green pasture, she walks in the amber, knee-high meadows, letting the blades brush her legs with swift strokes.

At home, Mother has made cookies. Ben, Vanessa’s three-year-old brother, looks like he’s been eating them all day. Amused, Vanessa brushes golden crumbs from his blond ringlets and is rewarded with a wet, milky smile. Mother comes up beside her with two honey and corn cookies on a clay plate, and fresh milk in Vanessa’s favorite lacquered cup. Intently, Vanessa stirs the milk with a finger and watches as blobs of tawny cream rise to the surface. She dunks in a cookie and carefully licks each drop of cream clinging to its sweet, crumbling mass.

Eight years ago, when Vanessa was five and her grandparents drank their final draft, the family moved to this house, leaving the old one for Mother’s sister. Like most of the island houses, it is built almost entirely with wasteland wood, treated with a water-repellent tincture from the dyer Mr. Moses. While the house itself is well constructed and sturdy, the Adams’ kitchen is the finest on the island. Father, who likes to build things, set to work on the kitchen as soon as his parents were buried, adding special drawers that could be filled with flour or grain, and metal rods at different lengths from the hearth fire, with a clay door to shut so the room wouldn’t fill with smoke. He laid dove-gray and lavender stones fanning out from the oven door, the closest of which could be used to keep food hot. Vanessa remembers Mother walking around the new kitchen in a daze, smiling and giving Father joyful glances filled with a strange longing Vanessa couldn’t quantify.

The crowning jewel of the entire house is the kitchen table, also made of wasteland wood, but shimmering with rich, iridescent tints of gold and crimson. Father’s family has passed it down over the decades, and it bears the stains of use: a burnt-black spot in the middle, scratches along the legs that scar blond. To protect it from further injury, Mother has covered it almost completely with a rough woven mat, but Vanessa likes to lift up the edges and run her fingers over the blushing wood, watching as the oils of her skin make a greasy film on top.

“Watch you don’t spill,” says Mother as Vanessa presses her fingers into the table. “Father wants you to go to bed early tonight,” she adds. “He says you don’t sleep enough.” Vanessa looks at her, but Mother is busy scraping burnt crumbs into a bucket by the wall. Sighing, Vanessa dips her fingers into the milk and presses them into the remaining cookie crumbs, making a paste. “Oh, and Janet Balthazar is birthing soon, so we’ll be attending that. Probably in the next couple of days.”

Vanessa winces. Janet Balthazar has had two defectives, born blue and slimy and dead like drowned worms in a puddle. If she has a third defective, she won’t be allowed to have any more babies. Her husband, Gilbert, will be encouraged to take another wife. Occasionally, women choose to take the final draft rather than live childless. Pastor Saul likes to commend those women.

Vanessa can’t imagine quiet, boring Gilbert Balthazar making any big decisions. He and Janet will probably grow old and sad, and then die quietly and without fuss when he is too useless to do anything. Hopefully he’ll have taught someone else how to forge by then. All the boys want to learn, betting that he won’t manage to have children and will have to train someone’s second son. He is constantly swatting them away from his fire and yelling at them to go play.

“Do we have to go?” says Vanessa. She remembers Janet’s birthing of her last defective, which was horrifying and repulsive.

“It’s our duty,” says Mother, which means yes.

“Can I go into the library?” asks Vanessa.

“If your hands are very clean,” says Mother. Vanessa recites the next phrase under her breath with Mother: “I want you to remember how lucky you are to have books at your fingertips. Nobody else on the island has that privilege.”

All wanderers are also collectors. How could they not be, wading through the detritus of civilization past? Each wanderer family not only inherits a pile of treasures, but adds to it each time the wanderer visits the wastelands. Sometimes it’s all a jumble: delicate flowery plates and glittering jewels and pieces of machines. Sometimes there’s a theme; the wanderer Aarons have pictures and sculptures of horses, their strong legs unfolding while their delicate necks arch forward, eerie to island children who have never seen anything larger than a sheep or faster than a dog. Father, like all the Adams back to their original ancestor, brings back books. Their library is nearly as big as the rest of the house’s rooms put together. Father hid some books in a secured chest, saying they are only for the eyes of wanderers, and Vanessa has never been able to budge the lock. But most of the books are just stories, and these he keeps standing proudly on simple shelves that run around all four walls. The books are staggering in their variety: some as tiny as the palm of a hand, some so big Vanessa has to prop them on her stomach to lift them. They are covered in buttery leather finer than she’s ever seen, or cloth woven so tightly it hurts the eyes to pick out the warp and weft, or thick paper splashed with illustrations that never flake off. Vanessa thinks the prettiest is the book that has a very thin layer of gold on the peripheries of its pages, so when it’s closed, it looks like a shining treasure. Despite its outward glory, The Innovations of the Holy Roman Empire has no pictures to tell Vanessa what the Holy Roman Empire was, and no definitions to tell her exactly what it invented.

Father scratches out the publication dates of all his books, saying wasteland years are meaningless, but he leaves in the names of the authors and everything else. The names bowl Vanessa over with their strangeness. Maria Callansworth. Arthur Breton. Adiel Waxman. Salman Rushdie. On the island, everyone bears the family name of an ancestor. First names are approved by the wanderers, the names of someone on the island who is already dead. Vanessa thinks her name is boring; she’d much prefer to be named Salman.

They have books at school, huge ones that students share during class time. At school they don’t scratch out the dates, but that doesn’t mean much because nobody knows what year it was when the ancestors touched shore. As in Father’s books, the names of the publication locations are exciting and impossible to pronounce. Philadelphia, Albuquerque, Quebec, Seattle. The students have made up stories about what these places were like before they all became the wastelands. Philadelphia had tall buildings of gold that shone in the sun; Albuquerque was a forest always on fire; Quebec had such cold summers that children froze to death in seconds if they went outside; Seattle was under the sea and sent books up to land via metal tunnels.

Vanessa finds many of the books in Father’s library dull. Father once gave her one he said was good for girls, but it was all about people who wouldn’t call each other by their first names and never thought about anything except getting married (the process of which seemed alarmingly complicated). Father was amused at her report and gave her The Call of the Wild, which she’s read eight times. There are dogs on the island, but not massive and ferocious and strong, like in the book. She learned so much from it; all about sleds, and competitions, and outdoor fires, and wolves. Sometimes she dreams of herself alone in the cold, striding through snowy emptiness with bristling, savage wolves at her side.

Today, Vanessa picks out a book called Cubist Picasso and flips through the pictures. The first few pages are torn out, and the rest are only images. Father says he doesn’t know what Cubist or Picasso are. She likes the strange pictures showing things that don’t exist, grown people with eyes on one side of their head like defectives. Lindy Aaron once let her touch a painting, even though she wasn’t supposed to, and it felt rough and thick under her fingers. These images look like they would feel that way, but under her skin is just paper.

After a while, Vanessa tires of lying around, and goes outside. Farms and gardens spread green in ragged patterns under the hazy sun, and the Saul orchards are a faint, dark line on the horizon. Since Father is a wanderer, he receives regular tribute from every island family of the freshest, most delicious food that the fields, gardens, and sea have to offer; Vanessa’s family thus only needs a small vegetable garden, and creamy grasses sweep and lean in the wind around their home.

A dog is trotting around, brown and thin. Vanessa calls to her, and the dog lopes over happily. It’s Reed, one of the Josephs’ dogs. Reed puts her big head on Vanessa’s breastbone and grunts, and wriggles around like she is trying to bore through her rib cage. Vanessa scratches her ears, and the warmth from Reed’s forehead spreads through her. Vanessa wishes she were a dog; all she’d ever have to do is run around and eat things. Although so many litters of puppies are drowned that she would need luck to make it to doghood.

Dinner is mutton and potatoes. Vanessa dislikes mutton, although Mother always tells her to be thankful for any meat they have. Her attempts to be thankful have failed; the mutton tastes like dirt. Father eats it with gusto, closing his teeth over the fibers and chewing lustily. Looking around, she sees chewing mouths, closing on flesh and turning it into slime, and she clenches her jaw against the turn of her stomach. She nibbles at a potato with butter and some burnt, crunchy mutton skin. Eventually Father notices and says, “Vanessa.” Forcing the mutton down, Vanessa barely chews, pretending she is a dog. Dogs don’t chew, they just swallow.

“Would you like something to help you sleep tonight?” asks Mother. Father frowns. He thinks the sleeping draft is unnecessary and is always disappointed when Vanessa takes it. Vanessa nods at Mother, careful not to look at him. Her evening glass of milk has a bitter, acrid undertaste.

That night, Vanessa barely awakens. When she does, the wind is making everything move rhythmically and tree branches are slamming into the walls. It’s almost summer, she thinks, and then darkness overtakes her once more.


Chapter Two


The church is halfway underground. Mother says that when she was a child, it was mostly on top of the ground, but it’s been sinking ever since.

When the ancestors came to the island, they built a massive stone church before they even built their own houses. What they didn’t know was that such a heavy building would sink down into the mud during the summer rains. The enormous church slowly disappeared below the surface, its parishioners unconsciously hunching their shoulders lower and lower as the light filtering through the windows became obliterated, like a black blind drawing upward. Undaunted, the builders added more stones, and the church, in response, kept sinking. Every ten years or so, when the roof is almost level with the ground, all the men on the island gather to build stone walls on top of it, and the roof becomes the new floor. Vanessa asked Mother why they couldn’t just use wood, but Mother said it was tradition, and it would be disrespectful to the ancestors to change it. All the eligible stones on the island are long mortared into vanished church walls. The wanderers have to bring new ones in slowly from the wastelands; if they tried to bring them all at once, it would sink the ferry.

Vanessa can’t help but think that if she were in charge, she would build it just a little bit differently, so it might last longer. But she suspects that when she is a woman, she will see no problem with the current method of church building. She’s never seen an adult express anything but enthusiasm for the process of building up and then sinking the church.

The stones the wanderers bring in are beautiful and multicolored, and Vanessa finds the texture pleasing, the way they stick out from the clay walls. She likes to run her hands over the smoothest rocks, the same way she likes to rub a perfectly round pebble that she keeps in her pocket. One stone has the fossil of a small eel imprinted on it, and all the children enjoy staring at the graceful patterns of its bones.

It’s disappointing to go down the long set of stairs into the dim building. The windows are carefully constructed from larger fragments of glass, which makes them appear fractured, like someone smashed them and then sealed them up again. Currently they are half buried in black mud. Sunlight hovers faintly near the ceiling, spreading in delicate veils. Vanessa always watches the windows carefully, even if she’s listening to the sermon. Letty swears that once a huge animal, like a big worm but with teeth, swam up against a pane until its white belly was flat against it, writhing and biting until it wriggled away. There are many legends of enormous underground creatures, bigger than the church itself; they glide through summer mud, curling around children in a soft, muscular embrace and then swallowing them whole.

The pews are polished wood, the smoothest to be found on the island. Although they are worn with the imprints of hundreds of buttocks, Vanessa still slides around uncomfortably; she can never find a place to settle. Pastor Saul is at his lectern, framed by the massive stone wall behind him.


  • "A spooky, sure-footed debut...It's a provocative, dystopian page-turner about patriarchy run amok-just the thing to tide you over until the next season of The Handmaid's Tale."—People
  • "Gather the Daughters shares a genetic code with Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go and Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale."—New York Times Book Review
  • "Melamed hasn't written a simple didactic dystopia; her island is more brutal but also more hopeful than the usual brave new world - if only the four girls facing its horrific rituals can learn the truth in time."—New York Magazine
  • "Lyrical and ferocious, Jennie Melamed's Gather the Daughters follows the young daughters of an isolated society who start to question the truths of their world. Melamed paints the joys and anxieties of girlhood with visceral force as the puzzle deepens and consequences multiply. An heir to the speculative creations of Margaret Atwood and Shirley Jackson, Gather the Daughters is a darkly compelling read."—Helene Wecker, New York Times bestselling author of The Golem and the Jinni
  • "Set on an enchanted island where magic is replaced by Freudian nightmare, Gather the Daughters is an eerie, claustrophobic tale in the spirit of Shakespeare's The Tempest and Grimm's fairy tales. In her extraordinary first novel, Melamed pulls no punches. The young girls in this story are both victims of violence and perpetrators of it. They are survivors and warriors. Forget your conventional coming-of-age morality tales--this book is about the gory transition from girlhood to womanhood and how difficult it is to balance animal instinct with the pragmatism of endurance. A gripping and elegantly-crafted read."
    Joshua Gaylord, author of When We Were Animals
  • "In Gather the Daughters, girls and women face a world that is brutal, insidious, and unjust--and yet, hope and resilience persist. This is a lush, vivid and chilling novel. A remarkable debut."—Edan Lepucki, author of California and Woman No. 17
  • "Compulsive and suspenseful.... This beautifully and carefully constructed work pulls no punches in its depiction of a bleak future; it will attract fans of Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale and readers who enjoy horror, suspense, and dystopian fiction."
    Library Journal (starred review)
  • "An intriguing, gorgeously realized and written novel which inexorably draws you into its dark heart."
    Kate Hamer, author of The Girl in the Red Coat
  • "Melamed is a masterful writer, and she establishes a hauntingly vivid atmosphere.... This is a haunting work in the spirit of The Handmaid's Tale--but Melamed more than holds her own. Hopefully, her debut is a harbinger of more to come. Fearsome, vivid, and raw: Melamed's work describes a world of indoctrination and revolt."
    Kirkus (starred review)
  • "Melamed's haunting and powerful debut blazes a fresh path in the tradition of classic dystopian works...a searing portrayal of a utopian society gone wrong...Melamed's prose is taut and precise. Her nuanced characters and honest examination of the crueler sides of human nature establish her as a formidable author in the vein of Shirley Jackson and Margaret Atwood."—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
  • "Melamed's gorgeous writing lets the details of this fundamentalist society drip out slowly. Readers will find dread washing over them as the story unfolds, and will be left catching their breath when the full backstory dawns on them. This one belongs on every dystopia reading list."—Booklist (starred review)
  • "Chilling.... Fiction lovers and fans of Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale won't be able to put this one down."—Real Simple
  • "Brutal and bold, Gather the Daughters is beguiling.... Melamed displays remarkable restraint and confidence, masterfully drawing out the mysteries of the island so that the girls' sense of unease and confusion is perfectly mirrored by readers. The gradual reveal about what is really going is suspenseful and satisfying, and Melamed narrates the tale in dreamy, lyrical prose that provides a heightened contrast to the nightmarish aspects of the girls' reality. Chilling in tone and fearless in its storytelling, Gather the Daughters is a fierce, feminist battle cry."—BookPage
  • "William Golding's Lord of the Flies wings by in the form of the wild, sometimes savage summers allowed the youngsters in the cult. The spirit of Shirley Jackson's short story The Lottery might be detected here, too, given the claustrophobic society in which the action takes place.... Melamed, a psychiatric nurse practitioner, has drawn on her professional background to depict the interior lives of girls and women caught in such a brutal, cloistered world. She offers strong and at times poetic images of the natural environment in which her story takes place."—Seattle Times
  • "Melamed conjures a wildly dystopian future run by an island-bound cult and plunks four heroines right in the middle. Equal parts disturbing and inspiring."—Entertainment Weekly
  • "Melamed's plot suggests some real storytelling chops. Crafting a new society with its own bizarre rules is a big undertaking and the writing is fast-paced. You get a feel for what the girls face and how they strain against the island dogma to find their own voices and freedom."—USA Today
  • "Gather The Daughters is dystopic fiction for a new generation, as well as a page-turner we couldn't put down."—Refinery29
  • "Gather the Daughters is one of the most gorgeous debut novels of the summer. While it bears some inevitable comparisons to certain contemporary favorites - The Handmaid's Tale, The Giver, Never Let Me Go, even Spring Awakening, - first time author Jennie Melamed has released a whole new world that spins entirely on its own axis.... In exquisite prose, Melamed shows us the dark colors of these serrated boundaries, and how people bleed when they push against them. The voices and stories of these girls will be seared permanently into your heart."
    Michigan Daily
  • "A skillful novel of suspense.... The characterisation is strong and the focus on the leadership and strategic skills of pubescent girls is refreshing. The narrative moves between three girls and one woman, and each has a distinctive voice, character and family background developed in a way that makes her personality plausible and likable.... Narrative tension builds as skilful characterisation fills the reader with growing concern for the central voices."—The Guardian
  • "I've never before read a dystopian fiction that was an extended analogy for an abusive relationship, and the analogy works quite well....Melamed's understanding of the psychology of abuse and recovery is masterful."—Seattle Review of Books
  • "A dystopian tale about a reclusive cult community reminiscent of Margaret Atwood's Gilead, Gather the Daughters introduces readers to a society maimed by "flame, war, and ignorance," a world where young women are viewed as vessels for childbearing and nothing more. Within the pages of this hauntingly compelling debut, coming of age coincides with public and private acts of rebellion that lead to irrevocable change for the community that its heroines call home. A quintessential companion to A Handmaid's Tale and thematic preface to American Horror Story: Cult, Jennie Melamed's novel is a dark yet empowering read."—Signature Reads
  • "Jennie Melamed's dark yet satisfying GATHER THE DAUGHTERS transports readers to a post-apocalyptic colony ruled by tyrannical men.... Melamed's debut is a captivating meditation on the dangers of misogyny and fear."—Electric Literature

On Sale
Jul 25, 2017
Hachette Audio

Jennie Melamed

About the Author

Jennie Melamed is a psychiatric nurse practitioner who specializes in working with traumatized children. During her doctoral work at the University of Washington, she investigated anthropological, biological, and cultural aspects of child sexual abuse. Jennie lives in Seattle with her husband and their two dogs.

Learn more about this author