Set in an alternative history where civil war and epidemics have brutalized America into an unfamiliar, sparsely populated, ghost of itself, Scribe is a novel that leaves readers hungry for more details about its compelling world. The protagonist, an unnamed woman, barters in letter writing—the written word now holds powerful spiritual significance—and lives in Appalachia, in her family’s old farmhouse. Regarded as a witch by the Uninvited, a nomadic tribe that stays on her land, as well as her distrustful neighbors, the protagonist meets Mr. Hendricks—a man with a past perhaps as dark as her own. They soon strike a deal, and thus begins a series of events which force the unnamed scribe to confront a past that she has desperately avoided and journey to a mysterious crossroads.

Alyson Hagy’s Scribe is rich with mythology and appeals to readers of southern literature and folklore and fans of paranormal alike. Hagy’s descriptions of an abandoned rural south unsettle in their familiarity, yet are laced with warmth. Her characters are survivors burdened with sin and guilt, which bears them to further action. An original addition to the post-apocalyptic genre, Scribe reaffirms the power of the pen and the surviving quality of the human spirit.

Graywolf Press.

—Review by Lucas Palmer