House of Cotton

Macmillan Audio. Apr. 2023. 10:41 hrs. ISBN 9781250882295. $26.99. F
Nineteen-year-old Magnolia Brown, a poor Black woman living in Knoxville, TN, has just lost her beloved grandmother. With $19 to her name, a predatory landlord, and the ghost of Grandma Brown haunting her, Magnolia doesn’t have much hope. One night, while working her dead-end overnight job at a gas station, a mysterious man named Cotton approaches Magnolia. Complimenting her, he offers her a job modeling at his funeral home. What Magnolia thinks will be a simple job becomes increasingly disturbing, and soon she stands to lose everything. Affrilachian author Brashears’s debut novel is a Southern gothic novel with modern themes. Narrator Jeanette Illidge gives voice to Magnolia as she tackles racial, religious, and power dynamics with strength while still allowing her tenderness and fragility to show. Brashear weaves an intriguing, if wandering, novel, full of twisty turns and mysteries. The gloomy atmosphere is oppressive, felt strongly through the characters and narration.
VERDICT Fans of lushly described surroundings and winding plots will enjoy. An atmospheric, engrossing story for readers of Octavia E. Butler and Tananarive Due.
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