By the Book: Dark-themed tales come to light

The days are getting lighter, but this month’s book column features novels with dark themes, beginning with Christine Hurley Deriso’s newest young adult novel Tragedy Girl (Flux Books, $11.99).


When everyone thinks your boyfriend is creepy, it’s a problem. Anne, a high school senior, is initially attracted to Blake because both are grieving. Her parents recently perished in a car accident, and Blake’s last girlfriend drowned, her body never recovered. The more Anne learns about Blake, the more she suspects he’s hiding something sinister. Tragedy Girl is the seventh novel from Deriso, a North Augusta resident, and her first thriller. Kirkus calls the book “a very deftly plotted psychological novel.”

Racial hatred is explored in the novel Heathens and Liars in Lickskillet County (P.R.A. Publishing, $14.95) by Aiken, debut author Derek Berry. The first black mayor of Lickskillet, S.C., is lynched. Declin Ostrander, a teenager, moves to Lickskillet with his father, a lawyer who specializes in defending members of a white supremacy group. Declin becomes entangled in the town’s web of bigotry and dirty secrets and launches a rebellion. The author will appear at the Book Tavern at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 31.

Mark Beaver’s greatest fear is roasting on a spit for all of eternity. The deacons at his Baptist church screen a horror flick dramatizing hell, and the boy decides to get right with God. His piety is almost pristine until adolescence dawns, and he begins to listens to Prince’s music and fantasize about girls garbed in Daisy Dukes. Suburban Gospel (Hub City Press, $16.95) is a coming-of-age memoir about a Baptist boy growing up in Atlanta in the ’80s – a world of Atari joysticks, breakdancing, suburban malls and ragged-out Camaros.

On the lighter side, if you’re in the throes of spring cleaning, give yourself a break and read Breaking Up With Your Stuff: Emotional Homework to End Your Toxic Relationship With the Clutter Culture (Create Space, $12.95). This book isn’t simply about organizing the spice cabinet or deciding when to toss that ugly painting your late aunt left you. Marin Rose, a local personal organizing coach, goes deeper into the issue of our toxic relationship with clutter and encourages habits that will make lasting, positive change in the way we manage our possessions:

SPRING AUTHOR EVENTS. The disappearance of longleaf pine forests, the preservation of the Pinhook Swamp and the biodiveristy of the Altamaha River are just a few of the preoccupations of naturalist author and poet Janisse Ray, who’s best known for her memoir Ecology of Cracker Childhood. She will be reading at Augusta University on April 27 at 2:30 p.m. in the Butler Room of Jaguar Student Activity Center.

Poetry and pinot grigio are natural pairs, and you can sample both when members of Augusta Poetry Group present a “Night of Words, Wine and Poetry” at 6 p.m. April 26 at the Main Library.

Sip on a mug of Cinnamon Tea ($15.95), a new mystery served up by North Augusta author Charles Campbell. The novels tells the tale of the disappearance of two young women and the detective who tries to crack the case. Campbell and two other authors, Bryce Gibson and Jamie Turner, will appear at The Book Tavern at 6 p.m. April 15. Campbell will also appear at 2nd and Charles from noon to 6 p.m. April 16.