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The Woods All Black by Lee Mandelo (Hardcover)

The Woods All Black by Lee Mandelo (Hardcover)

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Fiction - Horror - Fantasy - Historical - Romance - LGBTQ+ - Transgender


The Woods All Black is equal parts historical horror, trans romance, and blood-soaked revenge, 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.


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.comUncanny, 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.

“Mandelo doesn’t pull any punches, including in his delivery of PEAK queer revenge. If you don’t absolutely howl with schadenfreude at the ending, I don’t know what to do with you.” —Shelley Parker-Chan for SciFiNow

“The Woods All Black is a hopeful, wrathful meditation on monstrous religiosity and queer survival. A bloody, howling catharsis of a book.” —Tasha Suri, World Fantasy Award-winning author of the Jasmine Throne series

“Retribution has never been this sexy.” —Clay McLeod Chapman, author of Ghost Eaters and What Kind of Mother


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