Review by Katie
September 1, 2020
"Beloved" by Toni Morrison is a historical fiction novel that follows the life of Sethe, a woman born into slavery who escaped to Cincinnati, Ohio. Its use of paranormal elements creates a debate on its place in the horror genre, but the novel’s haunting qualities are undeniable. The book begins in 1873, opening with the description of the haunted house that Sethe and her daughter Denver reside in. The ghost attached to the house is Sethe’s baby daughter’s spirit, who died nameless. The feelings that the residents of this house have toward the ghost are polarizing; Sethe believes it drove her two sons to run away and Paul D, an escaped slave from the same plantation as Sethe, is similarly horrified by it. However, Denver and Sethe are somewhat comforted by it. The novel explores intergenerational trauma and the indelible devastation of slavery that lives with Sethe, even in her freedom. Soon, a mysterious young woman named Beloved enters Sethe’s life in unknown circumstances. As her character becomes understood, the already incredible prose begins to feel revolutionary as it reveals a terrifying insight in an utterly unique way.