Book Review: The Migration

The Migration by Helen Marshall

Creepy and atmospheric, evocative of Stephen King’s classic Pet Sematary , The Migration is a story of sisterhood, transformation, and the limitations of love, from a thrilling new voice in Canadian fiction.

When I was younger I didn’t know a thing about death. I thought it meant stillness, a body gone limp. A marionette with its strings cut. Death was like a long vacation–a going away.

Storms and flooding are worsening around the world, and a mysterious immune disorder has begun to afflict the young. Sophie Perella is about to begin her senior year of high school in Toronto when her little sister, Kira, is diagnosed. Their parents’ marriage falters under the strain, and Sophie’s mother takes the girls to Oxford, England, to live with their Aunt Irene. An Oxford University professor and historical epidemiologist obsessed with relics of the Black Death, Irene works with a centre that specializes in treating people with the illness. She is a friend to Sophie, and offers a window into a strange and ancient history of human plague and recovery. Sophie just wants to understand what’s happening now; but as mortality rates climb, and reports emerge of bodily tremors in the deceased, it becomes clear there is nothing normal about this condition–and that the dead aren’t staying dead. When Kira succumbs, Sophie faces an unimaginable choice: let go of the sister she knows, or take action to embrace something terrifying and new.
Tender and chilling, unsettling and hopeful, The Migration is a story of a young woman’s dawning awareness of mortality and the power of the human heart to thrive in cataclysmic circumstances.

Review:
I’ve never read a book quite like The Migration. It had me intrigued by the synopsis and then when I started reading, I was quickly engaged with the characters and the strange plight happening to the children around the world.
The writing is lovely, conveying the attachment between the sisters and the difficulty that a chronic illness can take on a family. I especially loved the research and imagination shown by the author in developing this strange illness that is plaguing only children.
There is a strange, almost sci-fi feel to this book and it won’t be for everyone but I did enjoy this flight of imagination.
Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for a review copy of this book.
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