Cottonmouths
The alternate cover edition for this book can be found here.This was Drear’s Bluff. Nothing bad happened here. People didn’t disappear.College was supposed to be an escape for Emily Skinner. But after failing out of school, she’s left with no choice but to return to her small hometown in the Ozarks, a place run on gossip and good Christian values.She’s not alone. Emily’s former best friend—and childhood crush—Jody Monroe is back with a baby. Emily can’t resist the opportunity to reconnect, despite the uncomfortable way things ended between them and her mom’s disapproval of their friendship. When Emily stumbles upon a meth lab on Jody’s property, she realizes just how far they’ve both fallen.Emily intends to keep her distance from Jody, but when she’s kicked out of her house with no money and nowhere to go, a paying job as Jody’s live-in babysitter is hard to pass up. As they grow closer, Emily glimpses a future for the first time since coming home. She dismisses her worries; the meth is a means to an end. And besides, for Emily, Jody is the real drug.But when Emily’s role in Jody’s business turns dangerous, her choices reveal grave consequences. As the lies pile up, Emily will learn just how far Jody is willing to go to save her own skin—and how much Emily herself has risked for the love of someone who may never truly love her back.Echoing the work of authors like Daniel Woodrell and Sarah Waters, Cottonmouths is an unflinching story about the ways in which the past pulls us back . . . despite our best efforts to leave it behind.

Cottonmouths Details

TitleCottonmouths
Author
FormatHardcover
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseJun 6th, 2017
PublisherSkyhorse Publishing
ISBN1510719156
ISBN-139781510719156
Number of pages296 pages
Rating
GenreFiction, Glbt, Queer, Adult Fiction, American, Southern

Cottonmouths Review

  • Ellen Gail
    April 2, 2017
    Put this on your TBR right now. No excuses. No waiting. You want to read this.I have two questions right off the bat for Kelly J. Ford:A) How on earth is your first novel this good?andB) When are you writing something else? And how fast can you get me a copy of it? Cause now would be good.I'm going to be going through book withdrawals y'all. Cottonmouths wrecked me.How do I describe this wondrous book? I texted my bff immediately after finished to apologize for taking ages to respond. I can't te Put this on your TBR right now. No excuses. No waiting. You want to read this.I have two questions right off the bat for Kelly J. Ford:A) How on earth is your first novel this good?andB) When are you writing something else? And how fast can you get me a copy of it? Cause now would be good.I'm going to be going through book withdrawals y'all. Cottonmouths wrecked me.How do I describe this wondrous book? I texted my bff immediately after finished to apologize for taking ages to respond. I can't tell how many times I've had to say, "Sorry I didn't text back, I was reading." But she's used to me by now. Intense is a great descriptor for this book. I fell asleep thinking about it last night and I woke up thinking about it this morning.I think this book will especially resonate with anyone who's familiar with small town southern life; if you've ever been drunk around a bonfire, ever tried to get out and had to come back home, ever met someone cracked out on meth, ever fought between rumor and desire. You'll relate to parts of this too hard.Emily's struggle with sexuality, failure, desire, judgement, and guilt all comes together into a fascinating meld of character and plot. Her relationship with her family, with Jody, and herself was a struggle for meaning and acceptance. I don't want to say too much about the plot, but FUCK! It made my heart race, my stomach clench, my palms sweat. The plot's amazing, and the writing...the writing is so good. Almost literally breathtaking. This is simply a really good book. Read this one, okay?Big thank you to Edelweiss & Skyhorse Publishing for this fantastic digital arc!
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  • Mike Hughes
    March 21, 2017
    Loved this debut by new author Kelly Ford. great southern noir at its finest. loved the characters, story line and overall writing style. Saw a blurb about the book referencing Daniel Woodrell and it couldn't have been more accurate, right up there with his style. Dark and desperate at times, but couldn't turn away, just had to find out what was going to happen next to Emily. Book was listed on Edelweiss as Fiction/Lesbian? not sure why they had to throw the Lesbian title in there, this book is Loved this debut by new author Kelly Ford. great southern noir at its finest. loved the characters, story line and overall writing style. Saw a blurb about the book referencing Daniel Woodrell and it couldn't have been more accurate, right up there with his style. Dark and desperate at times, but couldn't turn away, just had to find out what was going to happen next to Emily. Book was listed on Edelweiss as Fiction/Lesbian? not sure why they had to throw the Lesbian title in there, this book is sooo much more than anything to do with her sexuality. great writing, Period!! so dont let someone else's categorization of the book keep you from reading it. Its an easy five star book!Thanks to the publishers for allowing me an early advance reading copy of this book! will be buying it for my shelves.
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  • Sheryl
    April 20, 2017
    Awesome debut!
  • Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich
    June 9, 2017
    So good. I had 50 pages left to go tonight when I realized I needed to jump in the shower and get ready for my evening plans – and yet I'm sitting here instead, just having finished it, writing this review. It just wasn't possible to put it down, not possible to leave the world of the characters. Kelly J. Ford has written a world-- from the small town relationship's to Emily's too-relatable college ennui. And the plot twists! I definitely did not see the ending coming – in fact, I was wondering So good. I had 50 pages left to go tonight when I realized I needed to jump in the shower and get ready for my evening plans – and yet I'm sitting here instead, just having finished it, writing this review. It just wasn't possible to put it down, not possible to leave the world of the characters. Kelly J. Ford has written a world-- from the small town relationship's to Emily's too-relatable college ennui. And the plot twists! I definitely did not see the ending coming – in fact, I was wondering how the author was going to get us out of the tangled, suspenseful knot she's created. Brilliantly plotted, and SO GREAT to see a lesbian relationship portrayed in a book where that wasn't the focus, just an aspect of the character-- one that created believable plot complications and nuances. Loved this book. That it's a first novel is incredibly exciting. Can't wait to see what Ford does next.
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  • Crystal King
    May 3, 2017
    Cottonmouths is a rough, gritty, and almost too real-feeling book that twists the reader around its finger and then punches them in the gut when least expected. Kelly J. Ford has written a masterful debut that explores the depths of human longing, desire and desperation. Cottonmouths is a true look at the hard dark side of the South, through the underbelly that takes us far from the world we know from being schooled on films like Steel Magnolias. I can't wait to see what will come next from this Cottonmouths is a rough, gritty, and almost too real-feeling book that twists the reader around its finger and then punches them in the gut when least expected. Kelly J. Ford has written a masterful debut that explores the depths of human longing, desire and desperation. Cottonmouths is a true look at the hard dark side of the South, through the underbelly that takes us far from the world we know from being schooled on films like Steel Magnolias. I can't wait to see what will come next from this brilliant new author.
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  • Stephanie Gayle
    May 26, 2017
    I blurbed this book, so you know I loved it."Part noir, part Southern Gothic, Cottonmouths is far more than the sum of these parts, an original story that haunted me after I read it. Kelly Ford’s unflinching prose plunges readers into the town of Drear’s Bluff, where what’s familiar isn’t what’s safe and where desire proves deadly."What I couldn’t write in the blurb, because I was limited by space, was how original the setting and characters are. There aren’t a lot of books set in Arkansas featu I blurbed this book, so you know I loved it."Part noir, part Southern Gothic, Cottonmouths is far more than the sum of these parts, an original story that haunted me after I read it. Kelly Ford’s unflinching prose plunges readers into the town of Drear’s Bluff, where what’s familiar isn’t what’s safe and where desire proves deadly."What I couldn’t write in the blurb, because I was limited by space, was how original the setting and characters are. There aren’t a lot of books set in Arkansas featuring a queer protag. But novelty isn’t what makes this book great. It’s the voice and details and the dark reality that infuses each scene. It’s a story that kept me turning pages, anxious to find out what happened and what would happen. And the ending. Wow. I was left thinking about it for days after I’d finished the book.This is a book I’ll be recommending to anyone who’ll listen to me jabber about my reading list.
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  • Sam
    May 30, 2017
    What a great book! Nice slow build to a crazy exciting end. Don't want to spoil any of it, so I'll leave it at that. Can't wait to read more from Kelly!
  • Ms. Fussner
    April 18, 2017
    Kelly Ford's debut novel is a work of brilliance. Gripping, gut-wrenching, suspenseful, with sentences so beautiful and so captivating that I wanted to live inside of them. Even as the protagonist's world was falling apart around her, I could not look away. I ignored several responsibilities to keep reading. I ignored opportunities to binge-watch "The Great British Bake Off" to keep reading. I ignored working on my own novel to keep reading. This is a book that demands to be read. I read it all Kelly Ford's debut novel is a work of brilliance. Gripping, gut-wrenching, suspenseful, with sentences so beautiful and so captivating that I wanted to live inside of them. Even as the protagonist's world was falling apart around her, I could not look away. I ignored several responsibilities to keep reading. I ignored opportunities to binge-watch "The Great British Bake Off" to keep reading. I ignored working on my own novel to keep reading. This is a book that demands to be read. I read it all in a single sitting. I'd say more but I simply don't want to spoil a single word of it. Can't wait to read more from this author.
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  • Lisa Duffy
    May 15, 2017
    I loved the honesty of this story, and the way it looked at every aspect of unrequited love, friendship, desire and desperation with an unflinching eye. Once you start Kelly Ford’s novel, you won’t be able to put it down—a stunning, unique and memorable debut.
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  • Andy Davidson
    April 6, 2017
    A heartbreaking debut about the lies we tell ourselves to brave the past—and the truths we hide that hurt us most. An honest, unflinching portrait of yearning and loss.
  • Caroline Woods
    June 26, 2017
    Southern grit lit at its finest--this book grabbed tight hold of me and did not let go until its intense, satisfying conclusion. This is not fiction for the faint of heart. It's dark, suspenseful, and highly addictive. Besides creating a fantastic thriller, the author painted a compelling portrait of what it's like to be a young adult struggling with her sexual identity in a claustrophobic, judgmental Arkansas town. I sympathized deeply with Emily's suffocation and anguish, and I wanted her to t Southern grit lit at its finest--this book grabbed tight hold of me and did not let go until its intense, satisfying conclusion. This is not fiction for the faint of heart. It's dark, suspenseful, and highly addictive. Besides creating a fantastic thriller, the author painted a compelling portrait of what it's like to be a young adult struggling with her sexual identity in a claustrophobic, judgmental Arkansas town. I sympathized deeply with Emily's suffocation and anguish, and I wanted her to triumph at the same time that I questioned her decisions and knew, down deep, some sort of reckoning must come for her--not to mention her beloved Jody. Perfectly done plotting and literary writing--HIGHLY recommend!
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  • Sam Segan
    June 8, 2017
    Cottonmouths is as much about unrequited love as it is about meth labs, which makes it a truly universal story. Emily's fierce denial in the face of warning signs about the object of her infatuation rings true and creates incredible dramatic irony. Readers know she's making mistake after mistake, but we can't help but empathize with her decisions. (Who among us, sexuality aside, hasn't had a tragically unrequited crush?). Ford portrays settings and characters other writers all too often make int Cottonmouths is as much about unrequited love as it is about meth labs, which makes it a truly universal story. Emily's fierce denial in the face of warning signs about the object of her infatuation rings true and creates incredible dramatic irony. Readers know she's making mistake after mistake, but we can't help but empathize with her decisions. (Who among us, sexuality aside, hasn't had a tragically unrequited crush?). Ford portrays settings and characters other writers all too often make into stock caricatures: the small-town farmer, the former football hero, a group of women at a prayer circle. In her hands they're all vividly alive--well, for most of the book, but I won't spoil it--and treated with compassion and humor. The book is dark and a little depressing, and after I read it I came away feeling like I'd just had a good cry. It's not a book to read lightly, but it's definitely one I'd recommend.
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  • Jill
    June 7, 2017
    Ford does an amazing job of setting the scene in small-town Arkansas, a place I've never been but one that feels familiar thanks to her atmospheric prose--it's all in the details. Emily is fighting feelings of failure after dropping out of college and returning home, something she thought she would never do. In her fog of self-doubt, she finds herself tangled up with Jody, the one person she shouldn't be tangled up with. As teenagers, the two girls had been nearly inseparable, but now, they find Ford does an amazing job of setting the scene in small-town Arkansas, a place I've never been but one that feels familiar thanks to her atmospheric prose--it's all in the details. Emily is fighting feelings of failure after dropping out of college and returning home, something she thought she would never do. In her fog of self-doubt, she finds herself tangled up with Jody, the one person she shouldn't be tangled up with. As teenagers, the two girls had been nearly inseparable, but now, they find themselves thrown together in very different, very dangerous circumstances. The tension builds throughout the novel like a mist until all of a sudden, you can't see anything, and you know you're in trouble. The tagline is appropriate--Chickens! Lesbians! Meth! With a tagline like that, how can you turn this one down?
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  • Jenny Williams
    May 29, 2017
    COTTONMOUTHS is relentless: visceral, unflinching, incisive, and gritty. To call it a thriller isn't quite enough; it's also tender and full of truth. (Though the thriller aspect is real--I swear I didn't exhale until I turned the final page.) The world of Emily and Jody and August and Troy is one I know little about, and so it's a world I found myself hungry to understand. I'm grateful to author Kelly Ford for being my guide.
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  • Sharissa Jones
    May 26, 2017
    I loved this book. It's such a beautiful, lyrical take on modern rural life. The author weaves a web of characters who surpass the typical rural stereotypes of goody-goodies and gun-toting vigilantes. Drear's Bluff and its residents ring true at every level, from the convenience store owner who gossips to cover up her pain and worry for her son to the meth dealer trying to create a better life. A wonderful debut.
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  • Kathleen Gray
    May 16, 2017
    An extremely impressive debut. THis is a dark dark tale that's very atmospherically set in the South but which could, sadly, be set anywhere in the US. It's also a coming of age story for Emily, who must regrettably experience the worst of human nature and unrequited love. I know that the publisher has categorized this as LGBTQ but that's not the way I would sell this. It's a wonderfully written, carefully plotted novel with terrific characters. This is one that lingers in the mind. Thanks to ed An extremely impressive debut. THis is a dark dark tale that's very atmospherically set in the South but which could, sadly, be set anywhere in the US. It's also a coming of age story for Emily, who must regrettably experience the worst of human nature and unrequited love. I know that the publisher has categorized this as LGBTQ but that's not the way I would sell this. It's a wonderfully written, carefully plotted novel with terrific characters. This is one that lingers in the mind. Thanks to edelweiss for the ARC.
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  • Danielle
    June 17, 2017
    Emily thought she escaped life in her small hometown in the Ozarks when she went away to college, but things didn't turn out like she planned and now she's back home after failing out of school. She wonders if things might not be as bad as she first thought when she spots her former crush Jody and decides to reconnect with her and find out if the rumors of her baby are true. After lying to her parents about the real reason she left school and unable to find a decent job to support herself, Emily Emily thought she escaped life in her small hometown in the Ozarks when she went away to college, but things didn't turn out like she planned and now she's back home after failing out of school. She wonders if things might not be as bad as she first thought when she spots her former crush Jody and decides to reconnect with her and find out if the rumors of her baby are true. After lying to her parents about the real reason she left school and unable to find a decent job to support herself, Emily winds up being kicked out of her parents house. So she jumps at the chance to move in with Jody and play nanny to her kid. She quickly realizes she may have gotten more than she bargained for when it becomes very obvious that Jody is mixed up in a meth operation. This was an excellent book. The characters are really well written and the author has a great gift for creating the setting. I could very much feel myself in that small town and being surrounded by these people. I highly recommend this book.
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  • Lissa Franz
    June 22, 2017
    A beautifully wrought, agonizing coming of age story set in the south. Emotionally fine tuned, lushly described, with an ending that was both shocking and satisfying. I raced to get to the end, pulled into Emily's universe of passionate anguish and regret, her search for identity in the unforgiving landscape of her childhood. Incredibly satisfying and revealing about small town prejudice, loneliness, and hardship.
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  • Evie Jamison
    June 18, 2017
    This was a fantastic debut from Kelly J. Ford. It was both thriller and a dark look at unrequited love, and I was hooked from the beginning. By the end of Emily's journey, I was holding my breath, ricocheting from the turns in Emily''s life. Great read.
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  • Maddie (HedgehogBookReviews)
    May 21, 2017
    You can also find this book review on Hedgehog Book Reviews!!Emily Skinner, newly dropped out of college, is now back in her hometown in Arkansas. She’s living in her parents’ house, surrounded by gossip and judgment from her mom. To top it all off, Emily’s old crush, Jody, is back in town with her baby. Although Emily knows she’s trouble, she can’t stay away from Jody. After getting kicked out of her parents’ house over a dispute about her sexuality, Jody offers Emily a job as a babysitter and You can also find this book review on Hedgehog Book Reviews!!Emily Skinner, newly dropped out of college, is now back in her hometown in Arkansas. She’s living in her parents’ house, surrounded by gossip and judgment from her mom. To top it all off, Emily’s old crush, Jody, is back in town with her baby. Although Emily knows she’s trouble, she can’t stay away from Jody. After getting kicked out of her parents’ house over a dispute about her sexuality, Jody offers Emily a job as a babysitter and invites her to stay in her spare bedroom. Emily has always dreamed that maybe someday Jody could love her, especially considering the hints she’s giving lately. Soon, Emily realizes the mess that she’s walked into and, more important, realizes that she can’t escape it.I’m always on the lookout for upcoming lesbian fiction. I constantly watch and track new releases on Goodreads and BookRiot. I hadn’t picked up a lesbian mystery in a while, so my gut told me to start Cottonmouths. It isn’t my favorite book of June, but it is certainly interesting. If you’re not into F/F storylines, do not fear, because this book doesn’t really revolve around Jody’s sexuality, it’s more of a side topic.I’m trying to pinpoint why this book wasn’t a 5 star rating for me. It has a lot of components that I usually love, like queer themes, so I’m a bit confused. I’ve done a lot of thinking and realized that Cottonmouths made me really, really uncomfortable. I’m generally not good with books that make me feel unnerved, creeped out, or otherwise squirmy. Some books are just too much for me– too scary, too gory, too cringeworthy, you name it. I’m not sure what this book was too much of, but something left me feeling unsettled. I’m not someone who enjoys uncomfortable books, but this book is perfect for someone who is able and likes to stomach them.Something that I did like about Cottonmouths was how much it reminded me of Gillian Flynn’s writing style. It’s most comparable to Sharp Objects, in my opinion. There is less blood, but it has the same concept of a protagonist who the reader slowly beings to like less and less as the book goes on. In the beginning, Jody is someone who you can really feel sorry for, since she just dropped out of college and is struggling to find a job. As the chapters go by, Jody becomes less relatable and more unlikeable. This is something that makes me admire an author, because it’s not easy to do well. I think Emily J. Ford did a nice job transitioning Emily from a sweet girl into a dangerous woman in love with the wrong person.Another great thing about Cottonmouths is the character depth. Emily and Jody both have so much going on inside them. Neither of them is all good or all bad, which can make it difficult for the reader to determine who is the one they should be “rooting for”. Kelly J. Ford does an excellent job making some things obvious (Emily is in love with Jody) but keeping a few key things secret (but, does Jody love Emily back?). I really have a hard time with books with no redeemable characters, so this was a downside for me, but I’m sure it’s an upside for some people.I really wish I had been able to stomach Cottonmouths a bit more. The characters were very well developed and Kelly J. Ford excelled at making all her major characters very dislikable. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the right pick for me, for personal preference. I’d recommend this to someone who wants a good mystery that leaves them feeling uncomfortable and angry with the main characters.
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