The Punishings, by H.R. Bellicosa
★ ★ ★ ★ ★ Powerful and Thought-Provoking
More than one betrayal that is so deep you'll feel it in your bones.
I’m giving this book a special rating that isn’t within my normal rating key. Five stars usually means MUST READ, and this book is a must-read in the ways that the message is thought-provoking, the writing is beautiful, the characters are compelling, the suspense is teeth-clenching, and it’s bound to stick with you. But, this book will not be for everyone, which is why I’m giving it 5 stars for Powerful and Thought-Provoking instead.
This book is hard to swallow. There's violence and cruelty and unimaginable betrayals. It's raw and brings to life the deepest, darkest possibilities when fear and paranoia are the ruling forces in a community. But most importantly, it makes you think, as the most powerful books do.
The Southerly State (the southern part of the U.S) has separated from what used to be The United States. It’s the beginning of the 22nd Century, but the parish where Jane Dupre lives has frequent blackouts, New Orleans and other areas have been wiped out by floods, gasoline is too expensive to come by, birth control is only available for married women, and abortions are illegal under any and all circumstances. Religion and nationalism fiercely rule the Southerly State. Jane Dupre is one of the many who are forced to remain in the Southerly State, with barely enough food and money to get by and bite her tongue about The Punishings and other harsh treatment of women and young girls. With secrets passed down by her grandmother, Jane is secretly fighting for women in more ways than one, but it comes with a life-threatening risk.
You don't ever learn the main character's name. She goes by Jane, which was a common term used by women who were in trouble and needed help in the '60s. She is anonymous, but that concept is so representative. Her namelessness represents the way men in this book view the women, as one untied group capable of sin, and that's it. The idea that blending into the crowd, and remaining nameless is a form of protection speaks volumes.
This also creates a sense of mysticism and independence around the main character, which has often been considered unfeminine and dangerous throughout history. Jane takes on many of the traits that the witches in Salem were burned for, who were also mercilessly punished by men, often without evidence.
The Author's Note about the historical elements tied into this book gave me chills. Some of these ancient belief systems and practices date back to the thirteenth century, yet, in today's reality, they feel much closer.
Trigger warnings include violence, sexual abuse, racism, homophobia, self-harm, and victim-blaming.
Click here to purchase The Punishings, by H.R. Bellicosa.
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A note about Quillamaio Press is dedicated to publishing quality books that serve to not only impact the reader, but to impact the world we live in. Proceeds from each sale are donated to a cause that is directly affected by the subject matter of each novel. At Quillamaio Press, we believe that where there’s a quill...there’s a way.
A portion of proceeds from this novel will be donated to charities of the author’s choice that fight for civil liberties for all citizens of the United States, including but not limited to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). www.thepunishings.com
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