By: Kim Michele Richardson
Publication Date: 11/28/2017
My Rating: 5 Stars + (ARC)
Featured Friday Read
"An emotionally resonant tale of secrets, regret, and absolution that held me spellbound. You simply have to read it.” —Sara Gruen, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Water for Elephants
Spanning several decades and written in an authentic voice both lyrical and wise, The Sisters of Glass Ferry is a haunting novel about small-town Southern secrets, loss and atonement, and the unbreakable bond between siblings.
Glass Ferry, Kentucky, is bourbon country. Whiskey has been a way of life for generations, enabling families to provide and survive even in the darkest times. Flannery Butler’s daddy, Beauregard “Honey Bee” Butler, was known for making some of the best whiskey in the state, aged in barrels he’d take by boat up and down the Kentucky River until the rocking waters turned the spirits smooth and golden. Flannery is the only person Honey Bee ever entrusted with his recipes before he passed on, swearing her to secrecy as he did so.
But Flannery is harboring other secrets too, about her twin sister Patsy, older by eight minutes and pretty in a way Flannery knows she’ll never be. Then comes the prom night when Patsy—wearing a yellow chiffon dress and the family pearls—disappears along with her date. Every succeeding year on the twins’ birthday, Flannery’s mother bakes a strawberry cake, convinced that this is the day Patsy will finally come home. But it will be two tumultuous decades until the muddy river yields a clue about what happened that night, compelling Flannery to confront the truth about her sleepy town, her family’s past, and the choices she and those closest to her have made in the name of love and retribution . . .
Buy the Book
From Kentucky’s finest Southern storyteller, Kim Michele Richardson returns following (2016) GodPretty in the Tobacco Field and (2015) Liar's Bench with her latest gripping mystery (her best yet), crime thriller: THE SISTERS OF GLASS FERRY –Rich in character, strong family bonds, suspense, and dark deeply-buried family secrets with a Southern Gothic twist.
Set in the southern riverside town of Glass Ferry, in the heart of Kentucky bourbon—a gripping complex multi-generational tale of three families and four generations. Told from two points of view (Flannery and Patsy), and dual timelines.
From 1952 to 1972 and beyond, meet the Butler family.
Mother Jean, father Honey Bee, and twin daughters: Flannery Bee and Patsy Jean. Their rival, The Henrys.
Even though wise Beauregard “Honey Bee” (dad) has passed on, his legacy lives on through his daughters. A bourbon distiller, he made sure his family was taken care of and taught his daughters to be strong.
Teaching them about guns, bullets, driving, and other things a man would teach his sons, and in particular, Flannery – the bourbon business, the river, chores in the barn, and his secrets (including his recipes) as he unburdens his soul to his thirteen- year- old daughter.
His rules still called from the grave.
Honey Bee had said, “Kentucky without its whiskey men, its stills, would be like New York City without business suits and buildings.”
Flannery loved everything about whiskey. Loved that Honey Bee had taught her the secrets of its doings. " She loved the dark earth and the mystery of its scent that tucked itself into a strange sweet growing time." Her sister was more like their mom.
Patsy had other friends besides her twin Flannery and Flannery felt betrayed and jealous. The mom referred to her husband's business as “the devil’s water.” However, Honey Bee thought his River Witch was respectable. After all, he was licensed and offered a true gentlemen’s whiskey.
However, there was a payback. They had to keep the sheriff's pockets full of fees (taxes). Sinful bribery by the Henry brood, in more ways than one. Carried down to the next generation.
However, Honey Bee always reminded his family the business had saved them throughout history, through the Depression and Prohibition. Only four licenses were handed out over the years in Kentucky and he was one.
Later, in the story we discover there were also twin sons (Paxton and Preston) which died as babies. A big mystery is unveiled near the conclusion regarding a third family and the connection to the Butlers from decades earlier.
The story revolves around 1952 — the night of the prom. Patsy had a special date with her boyfriend Danny Henry. Danny the younger son. There was also the oldest, Hollis (bad news-troublemaker), and the father Jack which is the Sherriff.
The Henry’s looked down on the Butlers. Some thought being a twin was bad luck. A small town of half-truths, sadness, domestic abuse, rape, cover-ups, corruption, mental illness, and rumors. Spirits of the past. Unfinished business.
Patsy was the beautiful and curvy sister; whereas, Flannery was the smart one and not so beautiful. Patsy was closer to her mom and Flannery her dad. They were eight minutes apart. Patsy was protective of her younger sister. The girls did not always get along. Sibling rivalry.
However, prom night. The night it all went wrong – will haunt Flannery the rest of her life. The argument. The night Danny and Patsy went missing. From her mom’s sadness to the guilt of her sister.
The 1950 Mercury, pearls, prom night, a gun, bullet, two different brothers, twin sisters, Hospital Curve, Ebenezer Road and the Kentucky River.
The same river that had given Flannery so much would take yet another from her. The night Danny and Patsy went missing. They never made it to the prom. There was also the haunting day Patsy accepted a ride with Hollis three months earlier when Danny was flirting with Violet.
Now, Patsy is gone and Jean still makes a cake each year for Patsy and Flannery on their birthday. However, this year, a car was found in the muddy Kentucky River and the secrets of the past begin to unravel. They had all hoped the two runaway lovers had been living a secret life; however, a tragedy.
Two different twin sisters cannot seem to escape their tragedy and loss. Regrets. Secrets. One after another, trapped with no seemingly way out.
“Reckoning Day was why Flannery stayed precisely eight minutes ahead, looking over her shoulder for those lagging minutes when the devil might try to collect."
Flannery had the pearls. Her mom wants desperately to find the family pearls. Flannery would have to tell everything – both her secrets and Patsy’s. Flannery could only think of getting miles away from Glass Ferry. From her mom’s sadness, the rumors, and her guilt which only pushed her into yet another nightmare relationship.
Now twenty years later she returns.
What would Hollis do? A pact with the devil. The Henrys and their hold on this family, throughout generations. Precious moments lost. Brokenness and drowning misery. Is history repeating itself?
Flannery has to do something to help clear her sister’s reputation and name. The strong urge to avenge her sister. Will she have the courage, to tell the truth, or seek revenge? Justice.
In the background, there is also another intriguing mystery (icing on the cake). The long-dead midwife Joetta, alleged to have been a witch and a murderess. Does her spirit still haunt Ebenezer Road?
However, the parents kept one big secret which is yet to be unveiled. An old family matter. A secret box. A diary. Holding the key to the past. (A nice twist)!
Will the spirits of the past, continue to hover over the lives of this family? How far will a sister go to protect her secrets and seek justice for those she loves.
Riveting. Emotional. Compelling. Haunting. Beautifully written. A mix of psychological, domestic suspense, crime thriller, mystery, historical, and Southern Gothic.
A tale of heartbreak, and the strong bonds of family, balanced between destruction, regret, and redemption. The dark consequences that reverberate through the lives of three families, who will never be the same again. Love and loss.
Richardson’s best yet! Once you start reading, you will not be able to put this one down. These families will draw you into their web of secrets and lies across generations, keeping you turning into the night.
For fans of David Joy, Wiley Cash, Joshilyn Jackson, and Ron Rash.If you enjoy authentic Southern Gothic family mysteries, this one is for you. Ideal for book clubs (discussion guide included). My mom was a twin and come from a long line of family twins- always find them intriguing.
Highly Recommend! Have read all her books and a huge fan. Anxiously awaiting the next book. I enjoyed reading what’s next for the author: Add this one to your TBR list.
“I am currently working on my next novel The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek, and have spent countless hours researching and exploring the Pack Horse Library Project of 1935. It is a fascinating tale of tribute about the fearsome librarians who traveled on horseback and mule to provide books to the poor and isolated communities in Kentucky.” Read More
A special thank you to the author, Kensington, and Netgalley for an advanced digital and print copy. I have also pre-ordered the audiobook narrated by Marguerite Gavin.
Nov Top 20 Must Reads
TRIO Selection, 2018, SIBA, OKRA PICK,
"Richardson's novel is a southern gothic treat, as dark and complex as a good glass of whiskey. Richardson uses Flannery as the central narrator pre- and post-disappearance, allowing the tension to build over decades. Fans of Mary Kubica and Emma Cline will enjoy this tender story of family legend, loss and redemption." -Booklist
"Richardson's Bourbon-Infused Saga Is Rich With Drama And Family Intrigue." - Publishers Weekly
“Kim Michele Richardson brings five decades of the South to vivid, haunting life, weaving an emotionally resonant tale of secrets, regret, and absolution that held me spellbound. Her prose is simultaneously beautifully polished and emotionally raw, and so powerful I was knocked to the mat by a single sentence again and again. I am evangelical about this book”—you simply have to read it.” –Sara Gruen, New York Times bestselling author of Water for Elephants.
“Richardson has a knack for layering a landscape with secrets, for slowly revealing what’s hidden until suddenly you find what you've been chasing sitting in the palm of your hand. The Sisters of Glass Ferry is bountifully written—a place fully realized and packed with characters you won’t soon forget.” —David Joy, author of The Weight Of This World
“The Sisters of Glass Ferry peels back the layers of a small town to reveal a labyrinth of long-buried secrets and dangerous lies. Richardson delivers a gripping, hauntingly atmospheric Southern Gothic tale that stayed with me long after I turned the last page.” —Karen Abbott, New York Times bestselling author of Liar Temptress Soldier Spy
“This heart-rending, lovely family drama spans sixty years and four generations, peeling back the layers of a small town to reveal a labyrinth of long-buried lies and a wealth of dangerous secrets suspended between three families. The Sisters of Glass Ferry is so fast paced I couldn’t stop turning the pages, but then I’d smash into another jewel-like sentence and have to stop to reread it. Kim Michele Richardson writes with an authentic Southern voice straight out of Kentucky, well graveled, rough with moonshine, and damn near irresistible.” —Joshilyn Jackson, New York Times bestselling author of Gods in Alabama and The Almost Sisters
Click on covers for review and buying links.
About the Author
I love exploring my birthplace in my writings; the beautiful, brutal and mysterious Kentucky land and its people. I have traveled to mostly every corner and nook of Kentucky and am always searching for another cranny to discover.
I impart my novels with my fierce love for the land, showcase its intriguing people, history, forgotten folksong, comforting food and the unusual and cherished traditions, myths and legends of the region.
More than anything, I write human stories set in a unique landscape. Knowing one small piece of this world, the earth, the sky, the plants, the people and the very air of it, helps us know every place. And isn’t that what Eudora Welty meant when she wrote, “One place understood helps us understand all places better."
I visited the backwoods and rural areas of Western Kentucky in Liar’s Bench. Then in GodPretty I explored Appalachia, its darkly coal rich mountains and the hardscrabble people of Eastern Kentucky.
Spanning the 30s to present-day, The Sisters of Glass Ferry, is a haunting tale of love and loss, redemption and atonement that travels to the South Central regions, the dirty south of this land, exploring the Kentucky River Palisades and soaking up the ‘angels' share’ breezes — caused by the strong evaporation of sleeping bourbon aging in barrels. We’ll glimpse the powerful Kentucky bourbon distilleries in the regions where there have always been more barrels than people in this new novel that will be in bookstores December, 2017.
I am currently working on my next novel The Borrowing Branch, and have spent countless hours researching and exploring the Pack Horse Library Project of 1935. It is a fascinating tale of tribute about the fearsome librarians who traveled on horseback and mule to provide books to the poor and isolated communities in Kentucky.” Read More