Esteemed book reviewer, Kirkus Reviews, has weighed in on my latest southern gothic novel, Temple Secrets. It’s always a relief when these reviews don’t involve any weeping on my part, unless it’s joyful weeping, which I’ve been known to do, too. Here’s what Kirkus has to say about Temple Secrets:
The secrets and lies of Savannah, Georgia’s upper crust come to light in Gabriel’s Southern Gothic novel, Temple Secrets.
For decades, Iris Temple has manipulated those around her by using her own wealth, position, illness, and idiosyncrasies. More importantly, she also has a ledger begun by her great-grandfather, containing secrets about Savannah’s rich and powerful, which is safely locked up at the bank. Queenie, Iris’ companion for 35 years, is also her half sister; it’s an uneasy relationship, given Queenie’s family’s long history with the Temples- first as slaves, and then as servants. Iris’ iron grip on those around her is threatened when a classified ad appears in the newspaper: “FOUND. One Book of Temple Secrets. First Secret to be revealed tomorrow.” As the secrets begin to come out (such as, “Several Savannah patriarchs have mixed-race children”), the town erupts in anger. Further disclosures unearth long-buried truths and stir up the Temple mansion’s many ghosts, leading to a final, cleansing confrontation.
Gabriel unfolds her story deftly, with well-paced revelations about the complicated relationships between the mansion’s white and black inhabitants. Queenie’s 100-year-old mother, Old Sally, who still practices “Gullah magic,” is an intriguing counterpart to Iris: both are powerful matriarchs in their own way, though Old Sally possesses a contentment and benevolence that Iris doesn’t. Gabriel also evokes the Spanish moss-covered atmosphere of ghost-filled Savannah, and the Temple mansion in particular, with satisfying spookiness…
The author’s thoughtfulness about masters and slaves, employers and servants, and family relations also contributes to a satisfying read.
Savannah’s atmosphere, culture, and history flavor this engaging tale of intertwined families.
If you’ve had a chance to read Temple Secrets, I’d love to hear from you. What I value the most is not the Big-Daddy-Publishing-Empire-Reviewers, but the reviews on Amazon.com, Goodreads, Barnes & Noble, etc., and the feedback I get directly from my readers. xo