Gather the Daughters by Jennie Melamed review – a misogynist dystopia

The influence of The Handmaid’s Tale is clear – but this is a skilful novel full of suspense

Gather the Daughters is set in the alternative reality of a misogynist dystopia. On an island just out of sight of “the Wastelands” (the mainland, or the rest of the world), the descendants of 10 families live in a closed community with no technology later than pen and paper, no money and some disturbing sexual practices.

The island is ruled by “the Wanderers”, a group of elite adult men who make regular trips to the Wastelands, returning with a small selection of useful commodities to eke out the produce of small-scale subsistence farming. Other men follow the kinds of trades one might find in a small medieval town: blacksmithing, weaving and carpentry (though the population is so limited that when the papermaker dies, the islanders simply run out of paper). The ...