“There’s a girl that lives in the woods. Or so they say, no one’s seen her in a hundred years, but she’s there. You can hear her in the breeze, feel the flutter of her hem as she runs past, her laugh echoing in the babbling brook.”
The Haunting of Magnolia Woods is a collection of short stories, poems, and ephemera. Southern Gothic and magic realism meet in these woods. These stories originate when a couple of friends and I (back in 8th grade) were sitting on a curb making up ghost stories. I don’t remember much of the Magnolia Woods I set up then, but the idea of it–this beautiful Southern flower against the backdrop of dark and ominous woods stuck with me.
The stories in The Haunting of Magnolia Woods are inspired by my childhood imagination and visits to my grandparent’s land in the country, which is now only seven minutes down the road from me. Little pieces of my memories suspended in the back of my mind: driving down a dead end road with my Pawpaw threatening (joking) to leave me and my cousins at the old boys’ home and let the Booger man get us, a huge, empty Victorian house with weird additions and strange doors, 1950s trucks left in fields overgrown with vines, and names on the family tree–Lovey Ann, Pernicia, Magdalene, Caleb, Edmund, Mariah Catherine, and Sophia.
The stories span years and place and characters, if you step back and look at their intertwining threads—from the house with a heart in the middle of it to Lovey Ann trying to avoid the call of the woods, to the girls who walk barefoot through the forest on the eve of their sixteenth birthday to meet a ghost (or so they think) to Magnolia herself—what they want is answers.
Why? Why do these strange things happen in their town? Why do the dead rise when azaleas bloom in winter? Why is there a girl stuck in the woods? Why does all this mystery and magic call and surround them? What does it have to do with each of them?
Vibes/Comp. Titles: All Things Bright & Strange by James Markert, The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman, The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (Seeing a trend? That’s my old man crush), Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert