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PW #314: Young Adult Southern Gothic #ownvoices (Bi): SHADY GROVE, MY LITTLE LOVE

Thursday, 2 November 2017  |  Posted by Brenda Drake

Manuscript Status: Finished

Mentor Name: Lisa Amowitz

Mentee Name: Erica Waters


Category: YA

Genre: Southern Gothic #ownvoices (Bi)

Word Count: 71,000


When her brother is arrested for murder, Shady must find her family’s ghost-raising fiddle to conjure the spirit who can prove his innocence. But the fiddle’s dark thrall threatens her own freedom, drawing her into the grief and nightmares that claimed her daddy’s life.


I’m as restless as the ghosts today. The sigh of the trees makes my scalp prickle, my senses strain. There’s something waiting for me in the silences between the notes we play, like a vibration too low for human ears. It’s been here in the woods for weeks, just out of my reach.

No one else notices. Sarah leans over her banjo, dark hair falling across her forehead, mouth set in concentration. The music that spins from her fingertips is bright as the sunshine drifting across the pine needles in trembling pools.

The wood behind her glows golden right up to the edge of Mama’s property, where the true forest begins. There, the sunlight loses its hold, fading to shadows. Those trees grow tall and close together, clotted with brambles and vines. That’s where the ghosts who spill out of Aunt Ena’s house like to linger, mingling their whispers with the wind.

“Jesus, Shady,” Sarah says, her voice hacking through the song like a machete. Orlando slaps his hand over his guitar strings to mute the chord he fumbled. “You missed your cue again. Why didn’t you come in?”

“Sorry,” I say, glancing at the fiddle in my lap. “There’s not much for me to do in this song.” But the truth is, this song doesn’t mean anything to me. I want to learn to play bluegrass the way my daddy did—like it’s the breath in my lungs, the beat of my heart. And I never will if Sarah keeps picking all these folk-rock songs.

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