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3.5 

The Woods All Black

By Lee Mandelo
The Woods All Black by Lee Mandelo digital book - Fable

Publisher Description

The Woods All Black is equal parts historical horror, trans romance, and blood-soaked revenge, all set in 1920s Appalachia

Leslie Bruin is assigned to the backwoods township of Spar Creek by the Frontier Nursing Service, under its usual mandate: vaccinate the flock, birth babies, and weather the judgements of churchy locals who look at him and see a failed woman. Forged in the fires of the Western Front and reborn in the cafes of Paris, Leslie believes he can handle whatever is thrown at him—but Spar Creek holds a darkness beyond his nightmares.

Something ugly festers within the local congregation, and its malice has focused on a young person they insist is an unruly tomboy who must be brought to heel. Violence is bubbling when Leslie arrives, ready to spill over, and he'll have to act fast if he intends to be of use. But the hills enfolding Spar Creek have a mind of their own, and the woods are haunted in ways Leslie does not understand.

The Woods All Black is a story of passion, prejudice, and power — an Appalachian period piece that explores reproductive justice and bodily autonomy, the terrors of small-town religiosity, and the necessity of fighting tooth and claw to live as who you truly are.


At the Publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) applied.

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24 Reviews

3.5
Multi-layered charactersBeautifully writtenSuspensefulDark settingRealistic settingDarkThought-provokingSexual assaultTransphobiaViolence
Beaming Face with Smiling Eyes“OKAY YES THIS BOOK. This novella manages to do SO MUCH in such a short time - but unlike most novellas, I wasn’t left feeling a little unsatisfied, this was such a complete and intense story. This book has everything, it’s queer and violent and angry and beautiful and shockingly sexy. It is visceral on a level I haven’t come across in a long time. Set in 1929 Kentucky, our main character is Leslie, back from the war and Paris, he works with the Frontier Nursing Service and has been stationed to a holler that is decidedly unfriendly. What follows is a wild tale of menace and vengeance and love and acceptance. It was difficult to read at first, Leslie uses he/him pronouns exclusively, but is constantly misgendered and not only did that offend my modern sensibilities, but the constant pronoun/prefix shifts were disorienting. Which gave me, a cis-woman, a small glimpse at the trans experience no other book has really given me before. I could go on and on about this - but it’s a short book, so I’ll be brief. READ THIS.”
Believable charactersDiverse charactersMulti-layered charactersSuspensefulDarkBigotryHomophobiaSexual assaultTransphobiaViolence
Surprised Face with Open Mouth“This book was really something. It was dark, reeling with emotions, and intense. As soon as Les got to Spar Creek, the rich descriptions of the landscape really sent me to the location with him. The terror, both real involving the people involved and supernatural, was palpable. While the actions of the humans played out the unfortunate way I was led to believe, there were some parts that I absolutely wasn't expecting! Overall, this short novel was a great, welcome read that felt satisfying at the end.”
Descriptive writingOriginal writingAddictiveFast-pacedSuspensefulDark settingImmersive settingAbuseHomophobiaSexual assault

About Lee Mandelo

Lee Mandelo is a writer, critic, and occasional editor whose fields of interest include speculative and queer fiction, especially when the two coincide. His debut novel, Summer Sons, which has been featured in NPR and the Chicago Review of Books, is a contemporary Southern gothic dealing with queer masculinity, fast cars, and ugly inheritances. Other work can be found in magazines such as Tor.com, Uncanny, and Nightmare; he has also been a past nominee for awards, including the Nebula, Lambda, and Hugo. Aside from a stint overseas learning to speak Scouse, Mandelo has spent his life ranging across Kentucky, currently living in Louisville and pursuing a PhD at the University of Kentucky.

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