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"Equal parts gruesome and gorgeous and otherworldly."—The New York Times Book Review

“This beautifully strange book of the mountains is alarming and inspiring."—Samantha Hunt, author of The Unwritten Book

A haunting, imaginative, and twisting tale of two sisters and the menacing, unexplained forces that threaten them and their rural mountain community.

In 1980s Appalachia, sisters Sheila and Angie couldn’t be more different. While their mother works long shifts at the nearby asylum, Sheila cares for their home and keeps to herself, even when enduring relentless bullying. Her fearless younger sister, Angie, is more focused on fighting imaginary zombies and creating tarot-like cards that seem to have minds of their own. When the brutal murder of two female hikers on the nearby Appalachian Trail stuns their small community, the sisters find themselves tangled in a dangerous game of cat and mouse. Angie discovers a ripped, blood-soaked shirt; money Sheila’s been stashing away disappears; and a strange man tries to barter with a woman’s watch at a local store. As the threat of violence looms larger, the mysterious, ancient mountain they live on—and their willingness to trust each other—might be the only things that can save these sisters from the darkness consuming their home.

In turns both terrifying and otherworldly, author Alisa Alering opens the door to the hidden world of Smothermoss—a mountain that sighs, monsters made of ink, rabbits dead and alive, and ropes that won’t come undone. Unsettling, propulsive, and wonderfully atmospheric, Alering’s stunning debut novel renegotiates what is seen and unseen, what is real and what is haunted.

About the Author

Alisa Alering grew up in the Appalachian Mountains of Pennsylvania and now lives in Arizona. After attending Clarion West, their short fiction has been published in Fireside, Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet, Podcastle, and Cast of Wonders, among others, and been recognized by the Calvino Prize. A former librarian and science/technology reporter, they teach fiction workshops at the Highlights Foundation.

Praise For…

Equal parts gruesome and gorgeous and otherworldly.
— The New York Times Book Review

Surreal, thrilling. . . . Moody, potent, and tinged with the occult, Smothermoss is unlike anything I’ve read in a long time.

— Bustle, A Best Book of Summer

For those obsessed with Appalachian lore comes a hauntingly atmospheric tale toeing the line of a twisted fairy tale. Centered on two sisters growing up in 1980s Appalachia, this novel is a gothic and propulsive read that will dazzle you from start to finish.
— Barnes & Noble, A Most Anticipated Debut of 2024

Atmospheric. . . . one part fairy tale, one part thriller. . . . a compelling debut that glimmers with the lights of the forest as it unwinds its tale.
— Kirkus Reviews

— Publishers Weekly

Alisa Alering’s alluring novel Smothermoss enters the bloodstream of Appalachian storytelling like a fevered dream, unraveling the intergenerational tales of women living on the edge. . . . a glorious Southern Gothic novel that celebrates women’s innate, powerful magic.

— Foreword Reviews, starred review

This beautifully strange book of the mountains is alarming and inspiring. Alisa Alering’s Smothermoss goes fearlessly toward realities dismantled by violence, and the weird, wonderful world of the woods.

— Samantha Hunt, author of The Unwritten Book

At the heart of this story are two sisters, the mountain on which they live, and the persistent question as to which is more perilous, the natural world or the unnatural.  Beautifully written, tense and absorbing, Smothermoss is an original story from a truly gifted storyteller.

— Karen Joy Fowler, author of Booth

Smothermoss is rich, strange, and beautiful, simultaneously eerie and so very honest. An exciting first novel.

— Kij Johnson, author of The Privilege of the Happy Ending: Small, Medium, and Large Stories

Unnerving and beautifully weird.
— Claire Fuller, author of The Memory of Animals

Smothermoss is written in kudzu, an all-consuming triumph of southern gothic, where the words creep into your consciousness and squeeze.

— Clay McLeod Chapman, author of What Kind of Mother

Smothermoss is unsettling, intricately strange, and sweet as decay. Angie and Sheila are utterly real, trapped in humid adolescence in the shadow of a mountain who guards her secrets jealously. I loved this trek into Gothic Appalachia.

— Verity M Holloway, author of The Others of Edenwell

Smothermoss is a brave and beautifully executed novel. Utterly mesmerising.

— Kate Hamer, author of The Girl in the Red Coat

A coming-of-age tale set in a world where the realm of the imagination meets stark, brutal reality and the wonders of nature merge with the uncanny. A highly accomplished, beautiful read.
— A. J. Elwood, author of The Cottingley Cuckoo

Many strange, slippery things draw together in these pages, and at the heart of them lies the complex, surprising relationship of two sisters and the mountain they call home: home, with all the good and bad that entails. Smothermoss has magic; I read it in one sitting.

— Aliya Whiteley, author of From the Neck Up and Other Stories

Smothermoss is an essential read for fans of Appalachian horror. Alisa's writing is rich and vibrant when capturing the dark themes in this heart-wrenching story of survival and love. Don't miss this one!

— V Castro, author of Immortal Pleasures and The Haunting of Alejandra

Bewitching and beguiling, Smothermoss is a gorgeously haunting fairytale, written so evocatively you'll swear you can smell the humid foliage, hear the whirring insects, and feel the snap of twigs underfoot as you tread deeper and deeper into the nightmare.

— Nat Cassidy, author of Nestlings and Mary: An Awakening of Terror

Product Details
ISBN: 9781959030584
ISBN-10: 1959030582
Publisher: Tin House Books
Publication Date: July 16th, 2024
Pages: 264
Language: English