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Book Review: King of Nod – Some Things Never Die by Scott Fad

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I’m sure every person alive grew up with some local folk ghost story. When I was little, my brother told me that a woman in white robes roamed in the cemetery not far from our home. He said he knew someone who saw her.

But what if instead of hearsay, instead of “My best friend’s dad saw the creature,” you were the one seeing what everyone else pretends is a fireside ghost story? And when your friends laugh and throw rocks at the old man’s haunted house, you’re the only one who knows the truth.

In Scott Fad’s critically acclaimed, award winning novel King of Nod, Sweetpatch Island, South Carolina is full of ghosts, witches, and ancient curses. The book is a Southern Gothic epic following the lives of Robert Lee “Boo” Taylor who knows, first hand, that the folk lore of the island is absolutely real.

The novel jumps back and forth from Boo’s childhood in the sixties to the present when Boo returns to the island of his youth only to uncover the layered mysteries of his heritage and the meaning behind the island’s spooks.

From the moment I picked up this book, I fell in love with Fad’s style. He is a brilliant Southern Gothic writer weaving a story of past and present in a masterful work of art that I couldn’t put down. King of Nod is a thrilling piece that ties together broken love and lies with hatred and truth. But in Fad’s mesmerizing hand, even the book’s fictional elements are layered with a deep seated, brutal reality.

As the civil rights movement rages in Boo’s childhood, the blacks of Sweetpatch are haunted by different ghosts with familiar faces cloaked in white. The hateful curse permeates every aspect of the island’s culture, taking this story past any plausible genre into something biting and historically provocative.

With so many stories building one on top of the other, this epic tale is the best book I have ever read. It tantalizes every taste to the coming of age story, to the horror, to the mystery, and beyond. It captures, thrills, and sometimes pulls you down roads you don’t necessarily want to go. But you go anyway because Scott Fad leads you, beckons you with true-to-life characters, struggles, and even sometimes the fireside tales of childhood beasts.

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About Janica Unruh