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November Mourns (Bantam Spectra) Mass Market Paperback – May 31, 2005

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The investigation of a young girl's apparent murder takes a sharp turn into Twilight Zone territory in Piccirilli's moody follow-up to A Choir of Ill Children (a Stoker finalist). Shad Jenkins is serving out the final days of his two-year prison sentence when he's briefly visited by the ghost of his beloved little sister, Megan, who has just been found dead on a mountain road outside Moon Run Hollow, without a mark on her body. He returns home bent on bringing those responsible to justice, but all potential suspects have solid alibis. Ignoring warnings about the legendary miseries that haunt the mountains where Megan died, Shad takes to the hills to look for clues. His adventures among Tobacco Road moonshiners, snake-handling cultists, interbred grotesques and Bible-thumping fanatics interconnect for a sustained and unnerving evocation of the dark side of Appalachia. Piccirilli successfully blends character and incidents to conjure a spirit of the strange that plays a key role in the tale's surprising but fitting finale. In lieu of a tidy conclusion, this loose and episodic horror novel tantalizes with hints of awesome mysteries that defy complete understanding. (June)
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“There are plenty of horror writers who can effectively conjure spooks and evoke squalor and desperation, but few can match Piccirilli's skill with words….One of the great strengths in the book is its supporting cast, deftly drawn individuals with their own histories, fears, and motivations…. .NOVEMBER MOURNS is dark, ambiguous, strange, and sometimes surprisingly sweet. The horror here is as much about lost opportunities and failed attempts at salvation as it is about monsters and killers. If EudoraWelty had written about wraiths and haunted hills, it might have sounded like this. The taint in the land brings William Faulkner to mind, while the taint in the people is pure Flannery O'Connor. Piccirilli has taken Southern Gothic imagery and woven it with his own poetry to create something uniquely his own, a book of terrible beauty and beautiful terrors.”—Locus

"Brilliant and deeply unsettling."--Poppy Z. Brite, author of Liquor and Prime

“No one writes like Tom Piccirilli. He has the lyrical soul of a poet and the narrative talents of a man channeling Poe, William Faulkner, and Shirley Jackson....As terrifyingly surreal as an evening alone on the razor-thin boundary between reality and nightmare.”
–T. M. Wright, author of A Manhattan Ghost Story

“Piccirilli creates a geography of pain and wonder, tenderness and savageness. There is as much poet as popular entertainer in Piccirilli’s approach.”–Cemetery Dance

“A novel of supreme and mesmerizing power that reads like a head-on collision between Flannery O’Connor and M. R. James...A masterpiece.”–Gary A. Braunbeck, author of In Silent Graves

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Product Details

  • Series: Bantam Spectra
  • Mass Market Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam (May 31, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 055358720X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553587203
  • Product Dimensions: 6.9 x 0.8 x 4.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,038,858 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Tom Piccirilli is the author of more than twenty-five novels including A CHOIR OF ILL CHILDREN, SHADOW SEASON, THE COLD SPOT, and THE LAST KIND WORDS. He's a four-time winner of the Stoker Award, two-time winner of the International Thriller Award, and has been nominated for the World Fantasy Award, and twice for the Edgar Award. Marilyn Stasio of The New York Tims Book Review called THE LAST KIND WORDS, "A caustic thriller...the characters have strong voices and bristle with funny quirks." New York Times bestselling thriller writer Lee Child said of Tom's work, "Perfect crime fiction...a convincing world, a cast of compelling characters, and above all a great story" And Publishers Weekly extols, "Piccirilli's mastery of the hard-boiled idiom is pitch perfect, particularly in the repartee between his characters, while the picture he paints of the criminal corruption conjoining the innocent and guilty in a small Long Island community is as persuasive as it is seamy. Readers who like a bleak streak in their crime fiction will enjoy this well-wrought novel." Keir Graff of Booklist wrote, "There's more life in Piccirilli's THE LAST KIND WORDS (and more heartache, action, and deliverance) than any other novel I've read in the past couple of years." And Kirkus states, "Consigning most of the violence to the past allows Piccirilli (The Fever Kill, 2007, etc.) to dial down the gore while imparting a soulful, shivery edge to this tale of an unhappy family that's assuredly unhappy in its own special way."

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By OutlawPoet TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 16, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
I'll admit it. I've been afraid to read Tom Piccirrilli. Whenever you pick up his books you see blurbs with quotes like 'literate sensibility', 'lyrical voice', or 'a powerful meditation on isolation'. Eek! I like my horror to be scary, fast, furious, and above all readable! I read for entertainment - not just edification.

But, I took the plunge and I'm glad I did.

November Mourns is extremely readable and entertaining. It throws you into a backwoods horrorland and doesn't let go until the very last page.

The main character, Shad Jenkins, is a dark reluctant hero and is so well developed that you share his every sorrow and triumph.

This is a great book for any fan of horror and it doesn't disappoint. Ignore all the highbrow blurbs and just sit back and enjoy a dark, spooky tale!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer VINE VOICE on October 14, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Shad Jenkins returns to his hometown of Moon Run Hollow (no doubt down the road a spell from Kingdom Come, the setting of Piccirilli's 2004 novel A Choir of Ill Children) after two years in jail to find out exactly what happened to his sister Maggie, who was found dead a few months prior on the Gospel Trail Road. Although the police have ruled it "death by misadventure," the fact that Maggie's ghost has haunted him ever since her death leads Shad to suspect that wasn't the case. Thus, back in his birthplace to investigate, the ex-con discovers that "You could always go home again, the trouble was getting back out." Digging into the matter, Shad traverses the town's environs, speaking with many of its most colorful citizens. Despite his persistence in his quest for the truth, Shad turns up little. Unfortunately for Shad, revelations ARE coming. When they do come, they are tragic, but not wholly unexpected.

Having previously penned straight crime novels, westerns, operatic horror, and poetry, Piccirilli has now written a book which can best be described as a hybrid of Gold Medal suspense novel and southern gothic, sort of John D. MacDonald by way of Manley Wade Wellman. Piccirilli's prose is spellbinding, creating an atmosphere of dread so thick it becomes disorienting at times, placing readers in the same position as the book's hero, Shad Jenkins; he also does a wonderful job of what science fiction aficionados would label world building, creating a town and populace so vivid you're left feeling as if you actually visited the place.

November Mourns is a book with big ambitions, most of which it achieves.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer VINE VOICE on August 23, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Shad Jenkins is in prison and about to be let out when his father calls to let him know his sister Megan (Mags) is dead. That night Shad wakes as Mags tries to reach him through his cell door. The other prisoners are awake and watchful but no one will talk to him. The fury inside him is awake and spoiling for revenge. November Mourns starts with a question: Who killed Shad Jenkins' sister Megan? It ends leaving you with many more questions than you started with but somehow satisfied, even though the hairs on the back of your neck might not lie down for a while.

From the first page, I found myself drawn into the story. The story hangs together but it's so convoluted, twisted, and just plain weird that it's hard to sort things out. Finally, you find yourself just going with it. Shad talks to his dead mother and her various companions when he night walks. His sister, or mostly her hand, seems to be directing Shads investigations as he sees her gesturing to him out of the corner of his eye.

Shads father has never recovered from the death of Shads mother. Then Megan's mother ran away to marry her own cousin. The relationships in this book are often convoluted since everyone in town seems to be related in several degrees to everyone else in town. Moonshine running is the biggest industry and most everyone is addicted to moonshine in one way or another. Shad, after drying out in prison, can taste the moonshine on the air and understands the hunger but won't give in to the temptation because finding out what happened to Megan takes priority.

From the beginning the plot is multi-threaded and convoluted. We begin to get glimpses of the town, its people, and Shad as he searches for answers. It's a quest story but not in the usual sense.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Craig Clarke VINE VOICE on June 16, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
For beating up a guy who tried to rape his sister Megan, Shad Jenkins spent two years in the pokey. Finally out and ready to start his life again, he finds out that Megan has been murdered and that their father wants him to "come back [to Moon Run Hollow] before you get on with your life." Megan's body was found with a single, tiny scratch on her cheek up on Gospel Trail Road, a place where even the hardiest residents fear to tread.

Set up in a crime/noir/murder-mystery/whodunit format with Southern Gothic overtones, Bram Stoker Award-winning author Tom Piccirilli's November Mourns is his best novel yet. Advancing on themes approached in 2003's A Choir of Ill Children (in many ways, his breakthrough novel), Piccirilli uses this familiar format as a trunk upon which to place many beautiful and disturbing branches.

Often, these come in the form of odd characters with memorable names. Zeke Hester, the wannabe rapist, still won't let go of his pride, bruised at having his tail kicked two years ago. Glide Luvell, a teenage girl a year Megan's junior, exhibits knowledge of little more than how her body, which was "designed by the Hollow to pass on the burden of her general simplemindedness," affects men.

Glide's brothers Venn and Hoober are walking examples of why, when you run moonshine for a living, you don't spend your day sampling the wares. Even the Jenkins' dogs have all carried the name Lament, showing the overwhelming sense of despair that pervades Moon Run Hollow, and that Shad would desperately like to escape, if only he could get loose. In fact, Shad's avoidance of his past is a pivotal decision to the plot. If he didn't, November Mourns would wrap itself up much too quickly.
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