Reviews

Publishers Weekly
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Set in an alternate past, this uneven speculative thriller from Murphy (The Possessions) centers on female asexual reproduction and the scientist who made it possible, Joseph Bellinger. In 1994, Josie Morrow, the first child of nine born of this process, believes Bellinger is dead. Then she learns that the house of her mother, Margaret, has burned down and Margaret’s gone missing. Journalist Tom Abbott, who was in contact with Margaret, wants to help Josie find her. Josie and Tom have enough information to locate the other mothers and children of Bellinger’s experimentation, and together they seek out the others who, along with Josie, discover they have supernatural powers. In an unexpected showdown, much of Josie’s twisted past is revealed, and Josie must face her most difficult fears—disappointing a father figure who has shaped her life. Turgid language slows this conceptually rich novel. Hopefully, Murphy will return to form next time. Agent: Zoe Pagnamenta, Zoe Pagnamenta Agency. (June)


Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

The Homestead was a special place for the nine mother-and-daughter pairs who lived there in the 1970s, and years later it is still the subject of public fascination. At the home, patriarchal genius Dr. Joseph Ballenger helped the women achieve parthenogenesis, reproduction from an ovum without fertilization ("virgin birth"). After a fire ended that work, the family duos scattered, including Girl One, Josephine, and her mother, who is now missing. Hoping that the other women will have answers, Josie sets out to find them, taking readers on a trip that’s both dangerous and compelling. One by one, the daughters' powers are revealed—Josie can use her gaze to force others do her will, for example—as is the truth about how the Homestead really ended. Ethical questions abound regarding reproduction without men, and these add to the tense chase to find Josie’s mother and defend the women from opponents of their choices and independence. Readers of sf-tinged drama will want more of this author; hand them her other novel, The Possessions (2017), as well as recent novels by John Marrs.


Kirkus
Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

In her latest work of speculative fiction, the author of The Possessions (2017) creates a world in which women can conceive without men. Josephine Morrow’s mother has disappeared and the house where she spent most of her childhood has been set on fire. The source of the fire is unknown, and the only clues to Josephine's mother Margaret Morrow’s whereabouts will send Josephine on a trip across the country and into her past—a past that Margaret has done her best to keep her daughter from investigating. Here is what Josie knows: She was born on the Homestead, a woman-only commune; she was the product of a virgin birth; and Dr. Joseph Bellanger helped her mother achieve parthenogenesis. As she searches for Margaret, Josie seeks out the other mothers who gave birth on the Homestead. She also reconnects with their daughters, a couple of whom join Josie on her journey. As these young women get to know each other, they discover that they all have superhuman abilities—telekinesis, controlling the minds of others, the power to heal. They also encounter a number of people who hate and fear them enough to want them dead. This is a difficult novel to categorize. It has science-fiction elements and its basic plot is that of a thriller, but it’s written in a style that is well suited to neither. Using first-person narration, Murphy spends a lot of time exploring Josie’s inner life, which is not nearly as interesting as her outer life. This novel also suffers from some serious plot holes. Josie and her companions assume that their powers are the result of parthenogenesis, but no one wonders why—like the X-Men or the Justice League—they each have a unique power. More importantly, Josie has devoted her life to replicating the work of Dr. Bellanger, but when she has the opportunity to ask those in a position to give her information about his techniques, she never asks any questions that might lead her to the truth. Some of the mysteries that drive the narrative are resolved, but its central secret remains a secret. Full of intriguing ideas that are poorly developed. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

The Homestead was a special place for the nine mother-and-daughter pairs who lived there in the 1970s, and years later it is still the subject of public fascination. At the home, patriarchal genius Dr. Joseph Ballenger helped the women achieve parthenogenesis, reproduction from an ovum without fertilization ("virgin birth"). After a fire ended that work, the family duos scattered, including Girl One, Josephine, and her mother, who is now missing. Hoping that the other women will have answers, Josie sets out to find them, taking readers on a trip that’s both dangerous and compelling. One by one, the daughters' powers are revealed—Josie can use her gaze to force others do her will, for example—as is the truth about how the Homestead really ended. Ethical questions abound regarding reproduction without men, and these add to the tense chase to find Josie’s mother and defend the women from opponents of their choices and independence. Readers of sf-tinged drama will want more of this author; hand them her other novel, The Possessions (2017), as well as recent novels by John Marrs.

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