G.D. Brown’s Sinners Plunged Beneath the Flood is set in the dreary backdrop of a small Oklahoma town of Mayes County in the autumn of 1998—given life by the tantalizing group of characters who are thrust into solving this small town’s disappearances and other strange happenings.
In the opening lines of Sinners Plunged Beneath the Flood, Brown plants seeds into the reader’s mind by placing them in media res, teasing them with a glimpse into the characters, setting, and plot: “The fall of Jenn's senior year of high school, she learned that a person could be missing without having been gone for 48 hours, among other things. The leaves were brown and crunchy then, shriveled letters from the summer sun to warn of the coming cold” (1). In just the first few opening lines, Brown has the reader asking innumerable questions - those that can only be answered by delving deeper into the wayward world he builds throughout the novel.
A broken family of former slave owners. A pregnant woman awaiting her lover's arrival. A veteran that lost a hand in the civil war. A gathering with unexpected guests. In Sister Séance, a historical feminist horror novel by Aimee Parkison, a Halloween celebration brings together a range of characters in Concord, Massachusetts, and brings them face to face with their pasts.
Sister Séance is set shortly after the Civil War and centers around the history of two families: the Turners and the Haydens. A Dumb Supper, a meal where guests communicate without speaking, serves as the catalyst that gathers both families and most of the town along with two unplanned guests, the Usherwood Twins, a pair of mediums.
Coming of age stories are nothing new, and neither are stories about characters who are “on the run.” Yet when these types of stories are executed in an original fresh way, it’s impossible to not find yourself being invested in the characters and themes. That was my experience when reading Lori Ann Stephens’ upcoming novel, Blue Running. In this novel, Stephens manages to take the classic thriller style story of a young girl, or rather two young women, on the run, desperate to escape their past actions, and melds it with a heartfelt coming of age story. The end result of this can only be described as one of the most nail-biting depictions of adolescence I’ve ever read.
How can you write a memoir about a day? Authors generally write memoirs about entire lifetimes, not twenty-four hours. And yet, author Sonya Huber set out to record a single day in her life and all that it stood for in her newly released memoir, Supremely Tiny Acts: A Memoir of a Day.
Huber wears many hats—those of an activist, mother, wife, professor, and writer to name just a few. And in a perfect storm of sorts, Huber finds herself needing to balance all of these roles. Huber’s memoir is micro-focused on a single day. While participating in an environmental protest about climate change in Times Square, Huber is arrested. The main day chosen for the memoir, however, is Huber’s day in court following this arrest. On this same day, she finds herself grading her students’ papers (having necessarily canceled class), dealing with her rheumatoid arthritis, trying to calm her own nerves at needing to appear in court all before she is expected back to her hometown in Connecticut to take her teenage son for his driving test.
Caitlin Vance’s debut short story collection simultaneously stuns and alarms audiences. The Paper Garden’s stories are separate pieces of fiction that instantly draw the reader into their unique and memorable world. The stories range from children’s experiences comprehending the world around them, realistic queer romances, reimagined biblical passages, and stories blanketed in a fresh take on mental illnesses. Where Vance truly shines is utilizing her obscure yet easily understood metaphors, and her ability to transform her character’s voices into meaning that embodies each reader's unique circumstance. Regardless of some of Vance’s collection being centered in a fantastical version of reality, she also utilizes her writing to make light of undeniable truths about religion, relationships, gender, love, and societal norms. What Vance is truly putting forth through her writing is the idea that nothing should be taken at face value, and everything should be questioned for its supposed authority and validity.