The book tells the story of Ruby Bell, a young girl who experiences horrific acts – physical abuse, rape, human trafficking – and it drives her to madness, and the love story/redemption story between her and a man name Ephram Jennings.
It was really rather difficult to read some of the descriptions of the cruelty against Ruby, and generally against the women in Liberty, the town she’s from. I also found myself interested in the magical realism in the book, which primarily focuses on an evil spirit that inhabits the powerful men in Liberty and seeks to destroy Ruby. Everything else seems secondary to that – the friend-turned-crow would not need to exist were it not for that evil, the dead child spirits Ruby seeks to protect would need no protection in the absence of the Dybou, the man who subjected Ruby to human trafficking was a man-incarnate of the evil spirit. I wonder what the broader implication of that is – are we dismissing the evil actions of individuals by blaming it on the Dybou? Is the Dybou in all of us?
The book is an illuminating work. Read if you’re looking for a challenging read, magical realism, or a love story that looks a lot like a redemption story.