cover image Softspoken


Lucius Shepard, . . Night Shade, $23.95 (179pp) ISBN 978-1-59780-073-0

In this sultry contemporary Southern gothic from Shepard (Trujillo ), Sanie Bullard, a 28-year-old frustrated writer, is stuck in a stultifying marriage and husband Jackson's dilapidated antebellum family mansion in South Carolina, where the couple has returned so he can study for his bar exams in peace. His brother, Will, is addled with peyote as well as the family's weirdness; sister Louise is stranger still. Sanie, at loose ends in the "eminently hauntable" family home, hears voices. Unafraid of the ghostly voices, Sanie sees the house—and the Bullards—not as monstrous but as a "frail, musty puzzle she wants to solve." However, the puzzle is stranger and far darker than Sanie imagines. This memorable short novel careens through the mundane realities of a Southern small town, from bizarre revelations of decadent family history and strange supernatural theory to a violent and unexpected conclusion. (May )