“Scribe is a novel about dystopian Appalachia following the Civil War, a place ravaged by sickness and divvied up by the brute strength of men and their ability to defeat any invaders. If that doesn’t pique your interest, its main character is a complicated woman with a highly valued skill: the ability to write. In the wake of war and widespread fever, she sustains herself by creating paper and ink and writing the most heartbreakingly poetic letters to help others declare their triumphs and sins. After getting a special request from an unusual passerby, she finds herself in danger and must flee the once-beautiful but now brutal farmland she’s always called home. Scribe is as deeply imaginative as it is viscerally emotional, and Alyson Hagy’s ability to temper darkness with light makes it a spellbinding novel.”Morgan McComb, Raven Book Store
A haunting, evocative tale about the power of storytelling
A brutal civil war has ravaged the country, and contagious fevers have decimated the population. Abandoned farmhouses litter the isolated mountain valleys and shady hollows. The economy has been reduced to barter and trade.
In this craggy, unwelcoming world, the central character of Scribe ekes out a lonely living on the family farmstead where she was raised and where her sister met an untimely end. She lets a migrant group known as the Uninvited set up temporary camps on her land, and maintains an uneasy peace with her cagey neighbors and the local enforcer. She has learned how to make paper and ink, and she has become known for her letter-writing skills, which she exchanges for tobacco, firewood, and other scarce resources. An unusual request for a letter from a man with hidden motivations unleashes the ghosts of her troubled past and sets off a series of increasingly calamitous events that culminate in a harrowing journey to a crossroads.
Drawing on traditional folktales and the history and culture of Appalachia, Alyson Hagy has crafted a gripping, swiftly plotted novel that touches on pressing issues of our time―migration, pandemic disease, the rise of authoritarianism―and makes a compelling case for the power of stories to both show us the world and transform it.