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“This Will Never Stop”

A literary novel unspools a multigenerational saga about West Virginia women. Spilman’s textured prose masterfully evokes the hard-knock lives and locales that define these women. It particularly shines in the Carmen section, which is both the longest chapter and the spiritual heart of this tale. Novels that chart families –and their curses– over the course of multiple generations are nothing new, but the author’s inventive structure manages to give the book a feeling of simultaneity, allowing four generations (one of them deceased) to share the present. It also permits resentments and traumas to fuel the plot rather than mere chronology, which helps dispel the sense of inevitability that so often is found in historical fiction. Together, these four portraits of West Virginia women — of different times, classes, and levels of opportunity — illustrate the stresses and expectations of of small-town womanhood, both from without the family and within. A highly readable and adeptly crafted addition to the literature of Appalachia.

Read the Kirkus Review HERE.

Read the BookTrib review HERE.

Read the BookLife review HERE.

Check out the mention in Publisher’s Weekly HERE.

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“Establishing Witness”

For its resonant and powerful storytelling, its ambition and vision and wisdom, textural depth, integrity of form, its adept characterization of Grandma Vernie and attention to the realized consequences of doing the wrong things that seem so right, but most of all for it’s allegiance to the idea expressed by Flannery O’Connor’s mother’s neighbor lady, who said, when trying to figure out O’Connor’s fiction, “This just goes to show what some people will go on and do,” the winner of this year’s Mikrokosmos fiction prize is “Establishing Witness.”

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“Sansablatt Head”

In this whimsical YA fantasy . . . author Spilman will have readers racing for an answer. And even before the Magic begins, fiendishly animated prose casts a spell. When Spilman unleashes her imagination, the result is often splendid chaos: The “belch, released from his stomach where it had been rolling and boiling all morning, now took on a life of its own.” But perhaps this novel’s most miraculous feat is the way it finds tenderness amid the cacophonies of silliness: “Alec already knew that Sansablatt was quarrelsome, impatient, and demanding. He also knew he couldn’t live without him.” As the world within in a world builds in complexity, readers will wonder if any canvas is large enough for Spilman’s imagination. A masterfully woven adventure, likely to leave fantasy lovers in awe.

Read the Kirkus review HERE.

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“The Waddling Dead”

For younger children, Joan has published a series of books about zombie ducks with Headline Books under the general title of The Waddling Dead, and has been called, by one enthusiastic reviewer, “. . . the Janet Evanovich of zombie ducks!” Find this title and others by clicking the button below!

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About Joan Spilman

Appalachian literature, fantasy, short stories, excerpts from E-book, The Outer Flower

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