Title: On Sundays She Picked Flowers
Author: Yah Yah Scholfield
Publisher: Oni House Press Corp
Publication Date: February 20, 2022
Genres: Fantasy, Horror, Paranormal, Historical
Length: 142 pages
Source: I borrowed it from my local library.
Rating: 3 Stars
“It took Judith thirty-four years to realize that if she wanted to be free of her mother, she was going to have to do the freeing herself.”
On Sundays, She Picks Flowers is about a woman named Judith who finally escapes her mother to the countryside of Georgia. There she makes a home for herself in a cottage given to her by a relatively kind innkeeper. And it’s there she begins her Sunday routine. And it’s there she learns of the beings in the woods. And it’s also there she meets Nemoira, the woman who changes her life in ways Judith never even thought of. This novel is an exploration of transformation, of metamorphosis, closure, retribution, nature, and healing. In this southern gothic tale, you will see Judith become undone, redone, and become in incredible ways that is human and more than human. It’s a rollercoaster of emotion, dealings of familial trauma, love, and mystery. On Sundays, She Picked Flowers is a fascinating story that will keep you on your toes and make you fall in love.
Content Warning: Physical abuse, emotional abuse, gore, cannibalism, injury, murder, parent death, death, animal death, self harm.
Healing can be a messy and prolonged process.
Most people would be frightened by the idea of living in the middle of nowhere in a haunted cottage, but Judith was running away from something much worse than that when she moved into this violent little home sweet home. Her reaction to it happened within the first chapter or two, and it solidified my opinion of her as someone I wish I could meet in real life. Simply put, she acknowledged that it was odd for a house to throw furniture around or fiddle with the heating system in an attempt to get rid of its newest inhabitant, but she wasn’t about to let any of that silliness keep her from settling down and trying to make a happy new life for herself.
There were multiple grammatical errors that became more prevalent later on in this work. I’m the sort of reader who can overlook one or two of them, but they happened so regularly that they affected my star rating and made me feel obligated to mention them in my review. Another round of editing would have gone a long way in convincing me to choose a higher rating as there were so many other things I enjoyed about this book.
I’d like to strike a balance between encouraging people to read this novella while also warning you all that it is not for the faint of heart. Judith was painfully honest with the audience about the abuse she experienced in the first chapter or two, and some of those passages were difficult to read. Other disturbing scenes popped up later in the storyline, but nearly all of them served an important purpose for the plot and character development. The fear and suffering helped to explain why Judith was so haunted by her past even well into middle age and how she found a way to slowly move forward with her life.
My second reason for choosing a three star rating had to do with how awkwardly the ending fit into the themes that had been established earlier on. This was especially true when it came to the gorier aspects of the plot. It was never quite clear to me why some of those scenes were necessary when Judith had spent so much time distancing herself from her past and working to create a better future for herself. I would have loved to see some more exposition explaining the characters’ and author’s thought patterns here as there was never quite enough information for me to understand why the storyline veered off into the direction it did. These are things I’m saying as someone who genuinely wanted to choose a higher rating but who had too many questions to ultimately do so.
One of my favorite themes involved the character arcs of physical objects. I can’t go into much detail about this without giving away spoilers, but the personal development of these objects was almost as satisfying as seeing how Judith rested and healed in a haunted and traumatized plot of land that most folks would probably run away screaming from. I’ve read a lot of horror, but I’ve never seen anything quite like this. The author excelled at digging into the thought processes and emotional lives of objects and other things that are normally not given much attention at all in these genres.
On Sundays She Picked Flowers was thought provoking.