Today. we host the author of the Heirs of Watson Island series, Martina Boone. If you haven’t read Compulsion, its lush southern gothic setting will pull you in and literally compel you to read more. Because I feel that Southern Gothic literature seems to be a rarer find in bookstores these days, I asked Martina to share some of her favorite novels that fit in with the Southern Gothic genre. She was also kind enough to include a giveaway of Compulsion-themed gifts for one lucky reader.
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By Martina Boone
Thanks so much for having me on the blog, Gabrielle, and for suggesting such a fantastic topic for a post!
A lot of people either don’t know what Southern Gothic literature is, or they think of it as the heavy William Faulkner, Eudora Welty stuff they’re forced to read in high school. I happen to love most (not all) that heavy stuff, but I also adore books like REBECCA, JANE EYRE, and WUTHERING HEIGHTS that are considered traditional Gothics. In the Heirs of Watson Island series, I highlighted the roots of the Southern Gothic, really played up the fantasy elements and mystery, and made it all a bit more accessible for teens. The result is a book that sits between a contemporary story and a fantasy, with a Southern setting, forbidden love, and a gorgeous, swoony Southern boy. But, it truly does have all the traditional elements of a Southern Gothic:
- A Southern setting that becomes a character in the book.
- Deeply flawed, damaged, bigger-than-life characters with a heaping dose of crazy.
- An innocent plunged into a dangerous situation in a place that needs to be awakened to an unfair or complex social situation.
- Powerful family histories, traditions, myths, folklore, and a bit of magic that serve up unique, supernatural, or ironic events.
- Narrative choices that add humor, lightness, or irony to play against the darkness.
Think of it as a TV drama like PRETTY LITTLE LIARS or OUTLANDER, with a lot of different interconnected characters and a lot of mysteries you glimpse in bits and pieces until the whole is eventually revealed.
I did a blog post about Southern Gothics a while back. You can find that here. In that blog post, I included a few current YA examples of what might be considered Southern Gothics:
Maggie Stiefvater expertly blended Southern Gothic elements with Welsh mythology and romanticism to create a complex examination of friendship, wealth, and poverty in her Raven Cycle books: The Raven Boys, The Dream Thieves, and Blue Lily, Lily Blue. Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl build an elaborate paranormal world and a memorable romance in their BEAUTIFUL CREATURES series. Melissa Marr created a heart-pounding Southern Gothic thriller in her upcoming MADE FOR YOU, and Delilah S. Dawson and Natalie S. Parker are leaning toward chilling horror in SERVANTS OF THE STORM and BEWARE THE WILD.
Some additional YA choices include BLOOD MAGIC by Tessa Gratton, TEXAS GOTHIC by Rosemary Clement-Moore, THE MONSTRUMOLOGIST by Rick Yancey, and SWEET UNREST by Lisa Maxwell. April Tucholke’s BETWEEN THE DEVIL AND THE DEEP BLUE SEA is Gothic, but not Southern, as is the Lyndburn Legacy series by Sarah Rees Brennan.
As far as some non-YA books?
MIDNIGHT IN THE GARDEN OF GOOD AND EVIL is non-fiction, but a darn good Southern Gothic read. There’s also SHARP OBJECTS & DARK PLACES by Gillian Flynn. And finally, my beloved TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD.
I hope you’ll enjoy these as much as I do!
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Compulsion by Martina Boone is available in paperback on August 4, 2015. The sequel, Persuasion, hits shelves on October 27, 2015.
Thanks again to Martina for stopping by! We have a cool giveaway below, and in addition to that, every person who enters also has a chance to win a Grand Prize (see right picture) from Martina Boone.
Learn more about the Heirs of Watson Island series below:
COMPULSION (HEIRS OF WATSON ISLAND, BOOK 1)
Print: Simon & Schuster/Simon Pulse Audio: Tantor
Three hundred years ago, an ancient spirit cursed one of the founding families of Watson Island and gave the other two magical gifts that became compulsions. Arriving for the first time at her aunt’s plantation home, Barrie Watson must uncover the mystery of why her mother ran away when she was Barrie’s age, what has kept Barrie’s aunt locked on the plantation in isolation ever since, and the truth behind a generations-old feud that haunts the founding families. With the help of Eight Beaufort, who seems to know what she wants before she knows herself, the last Watson heir starts to unravel her family’s twisted secrets. What she finds is dangerous: a love she never expected, a river that turns to fire at midnight, a cousin who isn’t what she seems, and very real enemies who want both Eight and Barrie dead. Wrapped in mystery, steeped in atmosphere, and haunted by questions of what it means to be a family, Compulsion is a coming of age story that transcends age and genre.
PERSUASION (HEIRS OF WATSON ISLAND, BOOK 2)
When reporters chasing rumors of a stolen shipment of Civil War gold descend on Watson Island, Barrie Watson discovers more than treasure is buried at the neighboring plantation. A stranger filled with magic arrives claiming that the key to the gifts the Watson and Beaufort have held for centuries, as well as the curse that has plagued the Colesworth family, lies beneath the mansion. But spells go awry and misunderstandings flare, escalating danger that’s been brewing below the surface. To repair the damage, Barrie and Eight Beaufort must repair the rift between feuding families and unravel mysteries that go back far beyond the Civil War. At the same time, they must make sense of their growing and forbidden feelings for each other.
In a tale that is part mystery, part magical adventure, and part forbidden romance, Persuasion explores the nature of threats, promises, and consent, and the way in which history is changed according to who tells the story.
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Martina Boone is the founder of AdventuresInYAPublishing.com, a Writer’s Digest 101 Best Websites for Writers site, and YASeriesInsiders.com, a Tumblr site devoted to news, giveaways, and insider secrets of much-loved and up-and-coming YA series.
From her home in Virginia, where she lives with her husband and children, she enjoys writing books that are a mixture of romance, mystery, history, and contemporary fantasy set in the kinds of magical places she’d love to visit. When she isn’t writing, she’s addicted to travel, horses, skiing, chocolate flavored tea, and anything with Nutella on it.