Tiffany McDaniel, a proud Ohio native, draws profound inspiration from the captivating landscapes of rolling hills and enchanting woods that define her homeland. Just as her previous works have skillfully portrayed Ohio's essence, On the Savage Side continues this tradition. With an intimate understanding of the land, McDaniel skillfully weaves both the beautiful and savage side of Ohio onto the pages.
Born a mere minute apart, Arcade and Daffodil are twin sisters whose fiery-red hair and insatiable yearning for freedom intertwine to forge an unbreakable bond, nurtured by the enchanting stories spun by their grandmother. Together they disappear into their imagination and forge a world far away from their reality. But no matter how hard they try, Arc and Daffy cannot escape the generational ghosts that haunt their family. Years later, as the sisters wrestle with the memories of their early life, a local woman is discovered dead in the river. With each subsequent victim that floats upon the water's surface, the killer's presence looms ever closer, tightening the grip of fear. Arc's vow to safeguard herself and her sister plunges into a desperate struggle as they confront the relentless undertow of the savage side.
Between the spring of 2014 and the summer of 2015, a haunting series of events unfolded in Chillicothe, Ohio, as six women vanished without a trace. In this exceptional novel, McDaniel masterfully gives voice not only to the women known as the ‘Chillicothe Six’ but to countless women worldwide who face parallel struggles. With profound insight, McDaniel delves into the tragic descent of Arc and Daffy, encapsulating their journey into the underbelly of prostitution and addiction, where they are dehumanised in the eyes of a public that responds to them with repulsion rather than empathy. The women in McDaniel’s novel are victims of abhorrent crimes: subjected to parental neglect, sexual abuse, addiction, and sex work. Trapped within a society that dismisses their existence, their deaths are deprived of the investigative attention they deserve, solely because they are labelled as addicts and prostitutes.
Yet, McDaniel implores us to remember their humanity. They are not faceless statistics. They are mothers, daughters, sisters, and friends. Through her powerful storytelling, McDaniel ignites our compassion, compelling us to acknowledge the worth and importance of these lives that have been overlooked for far too long. McDaniel's stunning prose reverberates with the inherent beauty of these young women—their boundless imaginations, their creative spirits—that persist amidst the suffocating atmosphere of corruption that they have come of age in.
Overall, On the Savage Side by Tiffany McDaniel is a compelling, raw, and emotionally wrenching novel that delves into the unsolved murders of the Chillicothe Six. This book is a poignant reminder of the harsh realities faced by vulnerable women in society all over the world.