“Burning Eden” by Sarah Bewley

Burning Eden (Level Best Books 2023), by Gainesville, Florida, first-time novelist and award-winning playwright Sarah Bewley, is a skillfully plotted, character-driven police procedural with a surprisingly tender heart given the rising death toll. The novel also has an evocative gloss of Southern Gothic about it, adding to its impact and richness. After all, the story […]

Claire Hamner Matturro interviews Sarah Bewley, author of “Burning Eden”

Claire Hamner Matturro: Thank you, Sarah, for taking some time out from your busy and creative time to chat a bit with Southern Literary Review about your debut novel, Burning Eden, and other things too. It’s been a long time since you and I met in Gainesville, FL at a writing conference in which you […]

“Dear Outsiders” by Jenny Sadre-Orafai

Dear Outsiders by Jenny Sadre-Orafai (University of Akron Press 2023) is a vibrant tale of two siblings whose often idyllic childhood on the coastline of an unnamed sea changes abruptly. Written in lyrical phrases encapsulated in short prose poems instead of the more traditional paragraphs and chapters, the collection tells the story of the siblings’ […]

“Hillbilly Madonna” by Sara Moore Wagner

An exquisite, powerful work by a young poet, Hillbilly Madonna (Driftwood Press 2022) by Sara Moore Wagner is an endlessly complex collection of poems to be relished slowly. Each poem demands special attention as the individual verses convey their own unique tales within well-wrought lines of compelling intensity. The poems, mostly written in free verse […]

“The Rat Catcher” by Rebecca Barrett

Ruth Camden is dead in her Alabama attic. Ruth’s distinguished lineage goes all the way back to d’Iberville in old French Mobile. She died apparently with an opened scrapbook in her lap and a cup of tea near her elderly body. Detectives Hugo August and his partner Junior are called to the scene not because […]

“Hard Packed Clay” by Joyce Compton Brown

Joyce Compton Brown’s new collection of poetry, Hard-Packed Clay (Red Hawk Press 2022),  takes readers on a downhome kind of journey through Southern cultural territory, with poems radiant with a strong sense of place and filled with exquisite, well-wrought language. Brown—a well-respected poet with many accolades—honors both small town life and rural Southerness with poems […]