Genre: Southern Gothic/Country Noir

Early Review – Sweetgirl by Travis Mulhauser

January 29, 2016 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Early Review, Read in 2016 3 Comments

I received this book free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Early Review – Sweetgirl by Travis MulhauserSweetgirl by Travis Mulhauser
Published by Ecco on February 2nd 2016
Pages: 256
Genres: Southern Gothic/Country Noir
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads


four-stars

With the heart, daring, and evocative atmosphere of Winter’s Bone and True Grit, and driven by the raw, whip-smart voice of Percy James, a blistering debut about a fearless sixteen-year old girl whose search for her missing mother leads to an unexpected discovery, and a life or death struggle in the harsh frozen landscape of the Upper Midwest.

As a blizzard bears down, Percy James sets off to find her troubled mother, Carletta. For years, Percy has had to take care of herself and Mama—a woman who’s been unraveling for as long as her daughter can remember. Fearing Carletta is strung out on meth and that she won’t survive the storm, Percy heads for Shelton Potter’s cabin, deep in the woods of Northern Michigan. A two-bit criminal, as incompetent as he his violent, Shelton has been smoking his own cook and grieving the death of his beloved Labrador, Old Bo.

But when Percy arrives, there is no sign of Carletta. Searching the house, she finds Shelton and his girlfriend drugged into oblivion—and a crying baby girl left alone in a freezing room upstairs. From the moment the baby wraps a tiny hand around her finger, Percy knows she must save her—a split-second decision that is the beginning of a dangerous odyssey in which she must battle the elements and evade Shelton and a small band of desperate criminals, hell-bent on getting that baby back.

Knowing she and the child cannot make it alone, Percy seeks help from Carletta’s ex, Portis Dale, who is the closest thing she’s ever had to a father. As the storm breaks and violence erupts, Percy will be forced to confront the haunting nature of her mother’s affliction and finds her own fate tied more and more inextricably to the baby she is determined to save.

Filled with the sweeping sense of cultural and geographic isolation of its setting—the hills of fictional Cutler County in northern Michigan—and told in Percy’s unflinching style, Sweetgirl is an affecting exploration of courage, sacrifice, and the ties that bind—a taut and darkly humorous tour-de-force that is horrifying, tender, and hopeful.

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Percy James is used to her mother disappearing, but something unspoken urges her to go off in search for her, despite the approaching blizzard. Shelton Potter is the maker and dealer of the local methamphetamine trade and his house is her first stop. She doesn’t find her mother but she does find a baby, laying in front of an open window as the snow begins to pile on top of her. Not knowing what to do but knowing she can’t leave the baby, she bundles her up and begins a tragic excursion through a blizzard in Northern Michigan.

This story seems like one that has been done time and time again, but it’s one that continues to work for me. Sweetgirl is being compared to Winter’s Bone, and it isn’t wrong, but there’s a wonderful touch of humor amidst the bleakness that also reminds me of Justified. Shelton Potter is a drug-addled character that sets off in the blizzard to find baby Jenna in a misguided attempt at being a hero. At one point he’s sucking on helium balloons and whiskey when he runs out of gas in his snowmobile in the middle of nowhere while pondering the complexities of our existence.

‘His head was throbbing. He wondered if he got worse headaches on account of how big his head was. It stood to reason that he would.’

Deep thoughts, right? He reminded me greatly of Dewey Crowe (Justified) for obvious reasons.

Percy James was a headstrong girl that was clearly used to taking care of herself. Despite moments where she appeared far too articulate for a sixteen-year-old girl, she was still written genuinely and made the sort of decisions one would expect from a teenager. Like instead of hiking into town to find help for the baby, she sets off deeper into the hills to enlist the help of her mother’s ex, Portis Dale, a kind but troubled man. Together, they traverse the snow-covered hills attempting to survive nature and survive Shelton Potter’s men. Portis Dale was a welcome addition and added another level of wittiness to the story.

“Am I being testy? I’m sorry, Percy. As your cruise director I deeply regret any momentary discomfort my tone may have caused you.”

Sweetgirl impressed me most with its striking descriptiveness and how vividly the scenery was brought to life. There may have been some slight issues in general, but it triumphed in terms of Percy’s personal evolution. For such a short novel, she manages to overcome adversity while learning how to know when to do the right thing and realizing her potential for a brighter future outside of the hills of Cutler County Michigan.

‘Mama loved me. I knew that she did. She loved me in a way not even Starr could, but it had been a long time, maybe as far back as that day at Spring Lake, that her love had not felt confused and undercut with sadness. This had always been the torment of Mama’s love and it remained so now – it was both the sun that had borne me and the endless orbit I tread around its burning.’

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Audiobook Review – Where All Light Tends to Go by David Joy

January 21, 2016 Bonnie Adult, Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Read in 2016 2 Comments

Audiobook Review – Where All Light Tends to Go by David JoyWhere All Light Tends to Go by David Joy
Narrator: MacLeod Andrews
Published by Books on Tape on March 4th 2015
Length: 7 hours and 30 minutes
Genres: Southern Gothic/Country Noir
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
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Also by this author: The Weight of This World, The Line That Held Us

three-half-stars

The area surrounding Cashiers, North Carolina, is home to people of all kinds, but the world that Jacob McNeely lives in is crueler than most. His father runs a methodically organized meth ring, with local authorities on the dime to turn a blind eye to his dealings. Having dropped out of high school and cut himself off from his peers, Jacob has been working for this father for years, all on the promise that his payday will come eventually. The only joy he finds comes from reuniting with Maggie, his first love, and a girl clearly bound for bigger and better things than their hardscrabble town.

Jacob has always been resigned to play the cards that were dealt him, but when he botches a murder and sets off a trail of escalating violence, he’s faced with a choice: stay and appease his kingpin father, or leave the mountains with the girl he loves. In a place where blood is thicker than water and hope takes a back seat to fate, Jacob wonders if he can muster the strength to rise above the only life he’s ever known.

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‘It was a silly thought to think that the life I was born into was something that could be so easily left behind. Some were destined for bigger things, far-off places, and such. But some of us were glued to this place and would live out what little bit of life we were given until we were just another body buried on uneven ground.’

Jacob McNeely is eighteen years old and has little to no hope for his future; he’s a McNeely after all. His mother is a meth addict and his father is the leader of the Cashiers, North Carolina meth ring with Jacob stuck between the middle of them. His daddy sends him and two others on a task to dispose of a snitch before he does further damage but everything goes wrong and sets in motion inescapable trouble. When Jacob’s only love Maggie asks him to leave with her, to finally leave that place behind, he has a brief moment of hope where he can almost see himself surviving outside of Cashiers. Actually making it happen is another matter entirely.

Ahh, another one of my “back woods” books. Appalachians. Trailers. Meth rings. And let’s not forget the typical abundance of bloodshed. There is something about these stories that manage to completely captivate me, don’t ask me why or how. Light has been on my TBR for ages but it wasn’t until Audible called this audio narration one of the best of 2015 did I finally pick it up. MacLeod Andrews narration is fantastic and I completely agree with Audible (listen below to a clip.) While I’m definitely impressed that this is the authors debut novel, there was something slightly absent from this and I’ve determined that it was ultimately the characterizations. Jacob was a well-written complex character that hovered on the fence that separated good and evil the entire story. His “daddy” was straight up violent with no redeeming characteristics whatsoever, which isn’t always a bad thing, but I would have appreciated some complexity with him as well. Maggie’s purpose was to be the shining beacon of hope, the good girl that turns Jacob away from a life of crime, but that’s all she really was… a purpose. Her character wasn’t built up at all, relying on her and Jacob’s past which we were never even shown in walks down memory lane. If it had gone on for too much longer I would be tempted to say it took the path of cliché, however, Joy pulled out the punches with an explosive ending that was bold and audacious and left me most impressed.

“Looks like there might be a little of that McNeely blood in you after all.”
That’s what I was scared of.

Where All Light Tends to Go is about being born into a situation, a lifestyle, and the realization that circumstance is one difficult obstacle to surmount. Jacob McNeely may be a McNeely, but his strength and determination to earn a life beyond his family legacy is admirable. David Joy is one to add to the list of Southern Gothic authors to read when you’re looking for a wild time in the Appalachians.

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Book Review – Fallen Land by Taylor Brown

January 14, 2016 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Early Review, Read in 2016 2 Comments

I received this book free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review – Fallen Land by Taylor BrownFallen Land by Taylor Brown
Published by St. Martin's Press on January 12th 2016
Pages: 288
Genres: Southern Gothic/Country Noir
Format: ARC
Source: the Publisher
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three-stars

Fallen Land is Taylor Brown's debut novel set in the final year of the Civil War, as a young couple on horseback flees a dangerous band of marauders who seek a bounty reward.

Callum, a seasoned horse thief at fifteen years old, came to America from his native Ireland as an orphan. Ava, her father and brother lost to the war, hides in her crumbling home until Callum determines to rescue her from the bands of hungry soldiers pillaging the land, leaving destruction in their wake. Ava and Callum have only each other in the world and their remarkable horse, Reiver, who carries them through the destruction that is the South.

Pursued relentlessly by a murderous slave hunter, tracking dogs, and ruthless ex-partisan rangers, the couple race through a beautiful but ruined land, surviving on food they glean from abandoned farms and the occasional kindness of strangers.

In the end, as they intersect with the scorching destruction of Sherman's March, the couple seek a safe haven where they can make a home and begin to rebuild their lives.

Dramatic and thrillingly written with an uncanny eye for glimpses of beauty in a ravaged landscape, Fallen Land is a love story at its core, and an unusually assured first novel by award-winning young author Taylor Brown.

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‘Outside the door, the world was taking shape out of the high-country mist. Blued timbers sprung of the fugitive reality of dawn, ghostlike, perfect hidings for ambushing men.’

Fallen Land tells the harrowing tale about two young people that manage to fall in love in the midst of the Civil War. Callum is riding in the company of a band of Confederates being led by a dangerous man; the Colonel. He is a man both loved and feared; described as “a man of great cruelty who nevertheless protected them, led them, eclipsed any guilt of theirs with his own. At his behest they had razed and butchered, no reason but hunger and the Colonel’s orders.” When they reach a house and Callum is the first to find a woman inside, his immediate instinct is to protect her and he kills a man to do just that. While wounded in the process, he wakes to find that while he protected her from the first man, he wasn’t there to protect her from the second. This knowledge spurs him to leave his troop and set off to find her again and ensure she’s okay. Callum is subsequently accused of murder and a bounty is put on him, forcing him and now Ava to flee from certain death.

‘…the bounty of the boy’s head was only of greater import, for men such as them have little place int he world that stood scorched and remnant before them.’

The story is told primarily through Callum’s point of view, however, we are shown snippets through the eyes of the bounty hunters and their devotion to Callum’s death is ruthless. Fierce and relentless, these men have no qualms about tracking him down for the purposes of obtaining the money promised to them; even if it involves killing or maiming innocents that stand in their way of discovery. The duo are forced to endure tremendous hardship and any hope that they have of making out of this alive is seemingly improbable.

While I found the writing to be positively sumptuous, the story itself did follow a meandering pace and took me quite some time to finish. The violence is extreme, but fitting. The romance is lacking with no spark between the two to be seen, which you wouldn’t expect since Callum made some pretty life-changing decisions in order to protect this woman of mystery. I can understand his intentions to protect a woman, I just never quite understood exactly why he went to such extreme lengths to do so. Setting all that aside, this is still a notable debut that leaves me anticipating future works to come from this author. I will also be checking out his short story collection, In the Season of Blood and Gold, which is more Southern Gothic/Country Noir.

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Waiting on Wednesday – The Heavenly Table: A Novel by Donald Ray Pollock

December 9, 2015 Bonnie Waiting on Wednesday 3 Comments

Waiting on Wednesday – The Heavenly Table: A Novel by Donald Ray PollockThe Heavenly Table: A Novel by Donald Ray Pollock
Published by Doubleday on July 12th 2016
Pages: 336
Genres: Southern Gothic/Country Noir
Format: Hardcover
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Goodreads

Also by this author: The Devil All the Time, The Heavenly Table

From Donald Ray Pollock, author of the highly acclaimed The Devil All the Time and Knockemstiff, comes a dark, gritty, electrifying (and, disturbingly, weirdly funny) new novel that will solidify his place among the best contemporary American authors.

It is 1917, in that sliver of border land that divides Georgia from Alabama. Dispossessed farmer Pearl Jewett ekes out a hardscrabble existence with his three young sons: Cane (the eldest; handsome; intelligent); Cob (short; heavy set; a bit slow); and Chimney (the youngest; thin; ill-tempered). Several hundred miles away in southern Ohio, a farmer by the name of Ellsworth Fiddler lives with his son, Eddie, and his wife, Eula. After Ellsworth is swindled out of his family’s entire fortune, his life is put on a surprising, unforgettable, and violent trajectory that will directly lead him to cross paths with the Jewetts. No good can come of it. Or can it?

In the gothic tradition of Flannery O’Connor and Cormac McCarthy with a healthy dose of cinematic violence reminiscent of Sam Peckinpah, Quentin Tarantino and the Coen Brothers, the Jewetts and the Fiddlers will find their lives colliding in increasingly dark and horrific ways, placing Donald Ray Pollock firmly in the company of the genre’s literary masters.

About Donald Ray Pollock

Donald Ray Pollock was born in 1954 and grew up in southern Ohio, in a holler named Knockemstiff. He dropped out of high school at seventeen to work in a meatpacking plant, and then spent thirty-two years employed in a paper mill in Chillicothe, Ohio. He graduated from the MFA program at Ohio State University in 2009, and still lives in Chillicothe with his wife, Patsy. His first book, Knockemstiff, won the 2009 PEN/Robert Bingham Fellowship. His work has appeared in The New York Times, Third Coast, The Journal, Sou’wester, Chiron Review, River Styx, Boulevard, Folio, Granta, NYTBR, Washington Square, and The Berkeley Fiction Review. The Devil All the Time is his first novel.

 

I am constantly raving about what an incredible novel The Devil All the Time is. The wait has been fierce but finally there’s a new book coming out next Summer. Cannot wait.

What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

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Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine

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Waiting on Wednesday – Little Sister Death by William Gay

September 30, 2015 Bonnie Waiting on Wednesday 4 Comments

Waiting on Wednesday – Little Sister Death by William GayLittle Sister Death by William Gay
Published by Dzanc Books on October 6th 2015
Pages: 224
Genres: Horror, Southern Gothic/Country Noir
Format: Hardcover
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David Binder is a young, successful writer living in Chicago and suffering from writer’s block. He stares at the blank page, and the blank page stares back—until inspiration strikes in the form of a ghost story that captivated him as a child.

With his pregnant wife and young daughter in tow, he sets out to explore the myth of Virginia Beale, Faery Queen of the Haunted Dell. But as his investigation takes him deeper and deeper into the legacy of blood and violence that casts its shadow over the old Beale farm, Binder finds himself obsessed with a force that’s as wicked as it is seductive.

A stirring literary rendition of Tennessee’s famed Curse of the Bell Witch,Little Sister Death skillfully toes the line between Southern Gothic and horror, and further cements William Gay’s legacy as not only one of the South’s finest writers, but among the best that American literature has to offer.

About William Gay

Born in Tennessee in 1941, William Gay was a construction worker who didn’t begin publishing until well into his fifties. His works include, The Long Home, Provinces of Night, I Hate to See That Evening Sun Go Down, Wittgenstein’s Lolita, and Twilight. His work has been adapted for the screen twice, That Evening Sun (2009) and Bloodworth (2010). Most recently, his debut novel has been optioned for film. He died in 2012.

Horror and Southern Gothic could simply not be a more perfect combination of genres for me. So very excited for this one to release.

What are you waiting on this Wednesday? Leave me a link to your post and I’ll be sure to stop by!

dvd-pearl

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine

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Waiting on Wednesday – Sweetgirl by Travis Mulhauser

August 5, 2015 Bonnie Adult, Waiting on Wednesday 6 Comments

Waiting on Wednesday – Sweetgirl by Travis MulhauserSweetgirl by Travis Mulhauser
Published by Ecco on February 2nd 2016
Pages: 256
Genres: Southern Gothic/Country Noir
Format: Hardcover
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads

Also by this author: Sweetgirl

As a blizzard bears down, Percy James sets off to find her troubled mother, Carletta. For years, Percy has had to take care of herself and Mama—a woman who’s been unraveling for as long as her daughter can remember. Fearing Carletta is strung out on meth and that she won’t survive the storm, Percy heads for Shelton Potter’s cabin, deep in the woods of Northern Michigan. A two-bit criminal, as incompetent as he his violent, Shelton has been smoking his own cook and grieving the death of his beloved Labrador, Old Bo.

But when Percy arrives, there is no sign of Carletta. Searching the house, she finds Shelton and his girlfriend drugged into oblivion—and a crying baby girl left alone in a freezing room upstairs. From the moment the baby wraps a tiny hand around her finger, Percy knows she must save her—a split-second decision that is the beginning of a dangerous odyssey in which she must battle the elements and evade Shelton and a small band of desperate criminals, hell-bent on getting that baby back.

Knowing she and the child cannot make it alone, Percy seeks help from Carletta’s ex, Portis Dale, who is the closest thing she’s ever had to a father. As the storm breaks and violence erupts, Percy will be forced to confront the haunting nature of her mother’s affliction and finds her own fate tied more and more inextricably to the baby she is determined to save.

Filled with the sweeping sense of cultural and geographic isolation of its setting—the hills of fictional Cutler County in northern Michigan—and told in Percy’s unflinching style, Sweetgirl is an affecting exploration of courage, sacrifice, and the ties that bind—a taut and darkly humorous tour-de-force that is horrifying, tender, and hopeful.

With comparisons to Winter’s Bone and a beautiful cover reminiscent of The Ploughmen, I knew I needed to read this one.

What are you waiting on this Wednesday? Leave me a link to your post and I’ll be sure to stop by!

dvd-pearl

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine

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Early Review – Bull Mountain by Brian Panowich

July 4, 2015 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Early Review, Read in 2015 2 Comments

I received this book free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Early Review – Bull Mountain by Brian PanowichBull Mountain by Brian Panowich
Published by G.P. Putnam's Sons on July 7th 2015
Pages: 304
Genres: Southern Gothic/Country Noir
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads


five-stars

From a remarkable new voice in Southern fiction, a multigenerational saga of crime, family, and vengeance.

Clayton Burroughs comes from a long line of outlaws.  For generations, the Burroughs clan has made its home on Bull Mountain in North Georgia, running shine, pot, and meth over six state lines, virtually untouched by the rule of law. To distance himself from his family’s criminal empire, Clayton took the job of sheriff in a neighboring community to keep what peace he can.  But when a federal agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms shows up at Clayton’s office with a plan to shut down the mountain, his hidden agenda will pit brother against brother, test loyalties, and could lead Clayton down a path to self-destruction.

In a sweeping narrative spanning decades and told from alternating points of view, the novel brilliantly evokes the atmosphere of the mountain and its inhabitants: forbidding, loyal, gritty, and ruthless. A story of family—the lengths men will go to protect it, honor it, or in some cases destroy it—Bull Mountain is an incredibly assured debut that heralds a major new talent in fiction.

‘Cooper Burroughs sat and chewed tobacco while he watched his nine-year-old son dig his first grave. There was more lesson in that than in killin’ any eight-point buck.’

Bull Mountain is located in the backwoods of Northern Georgia where for decades the Burroughs family has successfully evaded the law while making their living running moonshine, pot and eventually meth. Halford Burroughs is currently the man in charge of Bull Mountain while his younger brother and family outcast Clayton is the sheriff of the county. The two have managed to form a precarious truce yet fractures form when Special Agent Simon Holly arrives with the revelation that he’s there to put a stop to the Burroughs family enterprise on Bull Mountain.

‘Clayton knew he would always be welcome, but the badge had no business here at all. If a thing existed up here, it was because it belonged here. And if it didn’t belong, the people who lived here made damn sure it didn’t stay.’

Bull Mountain centers around two brothers, Halford and Clayton, but actions of their father, Gareth, from decades past, is responsible for setting in motion the current catastrophe. When Gareth Burroughs made the transition from moonshine to pot and then to meth, the need to secure his growing empire became more and more apparent. Allying himself with gun producers in Florida is the first step he takes in the wrong direction seeing as the Burroughs have always kept their business on the mountain, never asking for outside help. The alliance continues when Halford takes over, but the Feds have discovered the dealings down in Florida and have successfully traced it back to Bull Mountain. Clayton is the only one with the chance to convince his brother to sell out who he’s working with in order to avoid prosecution and to avoid the firestorm set to descend upon the land.

Hot damn. Every once in a while a book will come along that leaves you completely dumbstruck in how utterly impressive it is. Bull Mountain is one of those books for me. Even more so impressive is the fact that this is the author’s debut novel.

Not only was the labyrinthine plot that ricocheted back and forth in time and between a slew of characters handled skillfully but the brilliance of the twist that managed to alter the entire story was utterly superb. Bull Mountain is a dysfunctional saga about a family that prides themselves on loyalty that begins to be warped by the long line of violence and bloodshed. It’s a story where the line between good and bad is significantly blurred to the point of no recognition. Where even the characters can no longer see how their actions have transformed them.

According to this interview, there’s already a second book set in McFalls County and a possible third to come as well. I couldn’t be more pleased.

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Book Review – Young God by Katherine Faw Morris

March 21, 2015 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2015 5 Comments

I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review – Young God by Katherine Faw MorrisYoung God by Katherine Faw Morris, Katherine Faw
Published by Farrar Straus and Giroux (BYR) on May 6th 2014
Pages: 208
Genres: Southern Gothic/Country Noir
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads

Also by this author: Ultraluminous: A Novel

two-half-stars

Stripped down and stylized—the sharpest, boldest, brashest debut of the year

Meet Nikki, the most determined young woman in the North Carolina hills. Determined not to let deadbeats and dropouts set her future. Determined to use whatever tools she can get her hands on to shape the world to her will. Determined to preserve her family’s domination of the local drug trade. Nikki is thirteen years old.

Opening with a deadly plunge from a high cliff into a tiny swimming hole, Young God refuses to slow down for a moment as it charts Nikki’s battles against isolation and victimhood. Nikki may be young, but she's a fast learner, and soon—perhaps too soon, if in fact it's not too late—she knows exactly how to wield her powers over the people around her. The only thing slowing her down is the inheritance she's been promised but can't seem to find, buried somewhere deep in those hills and always just out of reach.

With prose stripped down to its bare essence, brash and electrifying, brutal yet starkly beautiful, Katherine Faw Morris's Young God is a debut that demands your attention and won't be forgotten—just like Nikki, who will cut you if you let that attention waver.

‘She dreams of nothing, which is her favorite dream and inside of her is a low buzz.’

Set in the Appalachian foothills in North Carolina, Nikki has just witnessed her mother plunge to her death off a cliff at the local swimming hole. Wasting no time so as to keep Child Protective Services from taking her she seeks out the help of her estranged father, Coy Hawkins, who, she says with pride, used to be the biggest coke dealer in the county. Coy has since moved on to other lucrative work in the form of child prostitution but Nikki is determined to not only get him back into the “family business” but to work right alongside him.

‘Since she is going to die she would like to be remembered, spoken of in the backs of cars in words that shudder.’

I read Child of God a few years ago and never thought I would ever read a book more unsavory than that. Young God definitely tops that. Despite the fact that Nikki is thirteen, her age was something you could easily forget given the complete and utter depravity of the story, although once you do recall her age it just makes it all the more shocking. Nikki is impassive and tragically naive, yet never a victim, she transforms into a compelling heroine determined to survive. But again, she’s thirteen, however, the things that took place within these pages would be appalling no matter the age.

Young God hastily captures all the harsh realities of living with poverty and addiction in the backwoods of the South. The violence and complete corruption at times felt in excess but still succeeds in capturing just how easily it is to fall once you’re on the downward slope. More a novella at approximately 22,000 words, we’re granted somewhat of a reprieve from the violence in the sparse and apathetic way the narrative is written. Searingly crude, and unrefined this will shock even the hardiest of readers and the non-ending to Nikki’s story will only leave you contemplating the horrors of what’s to come for this young girl.

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Waiting on Wednesday – Where All Light Tends to Go by David Joy

December 3, 2014 Bonnie Waiting on Wednesday 1 Comment

Waiting on Wednesday – Where All Light Tends to Go by David JoyWhere All Light Tends to Go by David Joy
Published by Putnam Adult on March 3rd 2015
Pages: 272
Genres: Southern Gothic/Country Noir
Format: Hardcover
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads

Also by this author: Where All Light Tends to Go, The Weight of This World, The Line That Held Us

"Lyrical, propulsive, dark and compelling. Joy knows well the grit and gravel of his world, the soul and blemishes of the place."--Daniel Woodrell

In the country-noir tradition of Winter's Bone meets 'Breaking Bad,' a savage and beautiful story of a young man seeking redemption.

The area surrounding Cashiers, North Carolina, is home to people of all kinds, but the world that Jacob McNeely lives in is crueler than most. His father runs a methodically organized meth ring, with local authorities on the dime to turn a blind eye to his dealings. Having dropped out of high school and cut himself off from his peers, Jacob has been working for this father for years, all on the promise that his payday will come eventually.  The only joy he finds comes from reuniting with Maggie, his first love, and a girl clearly bound for bigger and better things than their hardscrabble town.

Jacob has always been resigned to play the cards that were dealt him, but when a fatal mistake changes everything, he’s faced with a choice: stay and appease his father, or leave the mountains with the girl he loves. In a place where blood is thicker than water and hope takes a back seat to fate, Jacob wonders if he can muster the strength to rise above the only life he’s ever known.

About David Joy

David Joy is the author of the novels Where All Light Tends to Go (Putnam, 2015) and Waiting On The End Of The World (Putnam, 2016), as well as the memoir Growing Gills: A Fly Fisherman's Journey (Bright Mountain Books, 2011), which was a finalist for the Reed Environmental Writing Award and the Ragan Old North State Award for Creative Nonfiction. His work is represented by Julia Kenny of Dunow, Carlson & Lerner Literary Agency.

I’m loving all this Southern Gothic fiction coming out lately. Not only is this compared to Winter’s Bone but Woodrell himself even blurbed it. Very eager to get my hands on this one!

What are you waiting on this Wednesday? Leave me a link to your post and I’ll be sure to stop by!

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine

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Early Review – Cry Father by Benjamin Whitmer

September 12, 2014 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Early Review, Read in 2014 0 Comments

I received this book free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Early Review – Cry Father by Benjamin WhitmerCry Father by Benjamin Whitmer
Published by Gallery Books on September 16th 2014
Pages: 320
Genres: Southern Gothic/Country Noir
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads


three-half-stars

In the tradition of Cormac McCarthy and Larry Brown comes a haunting story about men, their fathers, their sons, and the legacy of violence.

For Patterson Wells, disaster is the norm. Working alongside dangerous, desperate, itinerant men as a tree clearer in disaster zones, he’s still dealing with the loss of his young son. Writing letters to the boy offers some solace. The bottle gives more.

Upon a return trip to Colorado, Patterson stops to go fishing with an old acquaintance, only to find him in a meth-induced delirium and keeping a woman tied up in the bathtub. In the ensuing chain of events, which will test not only his future but his past, Patterson tries to do the right thing. Still, in the lives of those he knows, violence and justice have made of each other strange, intoxicating bedfellows.

Hailed as "the next great American writer" (Frank Bill, author of Crimes in Southern Indiana), Benjamin Whitmer has crafted a literary triumph that is by turns harrowing, darkly comic, and wise.

“It’s been a hell of a summer for your drinking.”
“It’s been a hell of a summer,” he says, without looking at Patterson.

Patterson Wells is a tree trimmer in disaster zones and is returning home from a job when he stops off to see his friend Chase. He finds Chase “working on a heap of crystal meth the size of his shrunken head.” He also finds a woman hogtied in the bathtub. He sets her free and leaves Chase to work on his heap of meth but this single incident sets in motion a string of violent events that will leave a horrible and indelible mark on his life.

‘I still feel like I’m telling you stories, like it’s the only thing between you being here and not being here. That’s something I have to hold on to, you being here. If I don’t tell you these stories, I got nothing. if I stop, you’re gone.’

Wells has become a man without a purpose, ambling through life, after the death of his son. In order to ease the pain of his absence, he writes in a journal, pretending that he’s telling these stories to his son. These stories succeed in also providing Patterson’s back story and the sequence of events that brought him to this point in his life. When the writing doesn’t quite work to put him at ease he reaches for the bottle which happens more often than not. Not being comfortable with his solidarity, he becomes friends with a drug runner by the name of Junior that gets him far more trouble than he could have ever guessed. What proceeds is extreme gratuitous violence all conducted through the haze of massive amounts of drugs and alcohol.

‘The thought that he’ll probably end up facing a murder charge if he is pulled over does occur to him, but there’s no stopping it. Turns out there’s no better medicine for heartache than surviving a murder attempt and stealing a car.’

If you’re able to see past the violence (serious, there’s a shit ton of it, including animal violence for those that like to be warned) and not let it blur your vision, you’ll find there’s a captivating and well-written story of a man without anything to live for buried beneath it all. This is one for all southern gothic/country noir fans; fans of Donald Ray Pollock, Cormac McCarthy and Daniel Woodrell.

The Devil All the Time by Donald Ray Pollock {PurchaseMy Review}
Winter’s Bone by Daniel Woodrell {PurchaseMy Review}
Blood Meridian: Or the Evening Redness in the West by Cormac McCarthy {Purchase}

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