The Birth Yard by Mallory Tater

Read an excerpt

See also

89,000 words
Finished books now available


Canada: HarperCollins, March 2020
World English Audio (excl-US): Audible


Mallory Tater (Photo: Rossanne Clamp)
(Photo: Rossanne Clamp)

Mallory Tater was the recipient of the Young Buck Poetry Prize in 2016 and 2017. She has been shortlisted for the 2017 Journey Prize for Fiction, The Malahat Review’s 2016 Far Horizon’s Contest, Room Magazine’s 2016 Fiction and Poetry Prizes, and Arc Magazine’s 2015 Poem of The Year Contest. In 2018, she published her first poetry collection, This Will Be Good. She is the publisher of Rahila’s Ghost Press.

The Birth Yard

a novel by Mallory Tater


“In the tradition of the subjugated handmaids of Gilead and with striking overtones of Miriam Toews’s Women Talking—another harrowing account of abuse—Mallory Tater’s The Birth Yard is the latest addition to the dystopian canon. Tater’s gripping debut portrays a patriarchal society run amok, where women are valued only as breeders and servants, are minimally educated, and are subjected to forced marriages, rape, and violence at the hands of the Men who control them.”

“[A] harrowing and powerful debut novel…. A propulsive read.” — QUILL AND QUIRE

“With enough exquisite detail to draw a provocative landscape paired with fast-paced action, The Birth Yard had me up all night. Mallory Tater has built an intricate and devious world and then walked us directly into the middle of it. Thankfully, she has also given us the strong and conflicted Sable Ursu to walk us back out.”
 — CHERIE DIMALINE, bestselling author of The Marrow Thieves and Empire of Wild

The Birth YardSable Ursu has just turned eighteen, which means she is ready to breed. Within the confines of her world, a cult known as The Den, female fertility and sexuality are wholly controlled by Men. In the season they come of age, Sable and her friends Mamie and Dinah are each paired with a Match with with the purpose of conceiving a child.

In their second trimester, girls are sent to the Birth Yard, where they are prepared for giving birth and motherhood, but are also regularly drugged and monitored by their midwives. Sable is unable to ignore her unease about the pills they are forced to swallow and the punishments they receive for stepping out of line. Too many of the girls, including Mamie and Dinah, have secrets and it is impossible to know whom to trust. When Sable’s loyalty is questioned and her safety within the Den is threatened, she must rebel against the only life she has ever known—the only life she has been designed for.

Mallory Tater weaves an intricate narrative, equal parts suspense and action, while twisting contemporary social anxieties to dizzying extremes. A startling and important debut novel, The Birth Yard echoes the dark and cautionary tales of other literary classics. This is no dystopian world; there is no totalitarian government. The Den exists now.




Back to top