Smothermoss

Alisa Alering

In 1980s Appalachia, sisters Sheila and Angie couldn’t be more different. While their mother works long shifts at the nearby asylum, Sheila does her best to care for their home and keeps to herself, even when enduring relentless bullying from classmates. Her rambunctious, fearless younger sister, Angie, is more focused on fighting imaginary zombies, and creating tarot-like cards that seem to have a mind of their own.

When the brutal murder of two female hikers on the nearby Appalachian Trail stuns their small community, the sisters find themselves tangled in a dangerous game of cat and mouse. Angie discovers a ripped shirt, soaked in blood; money Sheila’s been stashing away disappears; and a strange man shows up at a local store, trying to barter with a woman’s watch. As the threat of violence looms larger, the mysterious, ancient mountain they live on—and their willingness to trust each other—might be the only things that can save them from the darkness consuming their home.

In turns both terrifying and otherworldly, author Alisa Alering opens the door to the hidden world of Smothermoss—a mountain that sighs, monsters made of ink, rabbits both dead and alive, and ropes that just won’t come undone. Unsettling, propulsive, and wonderfully atmospheric, Alering’s stunning debut novel renegotiates what is seen and unseen, what is real and what is haunted.