THE DEVIL IN THE ROOT – A YA Southern Gothic
A boy cursed with wings, horns, and a tail discovers a twisted family secret in this lush Southern Gothic, perfect for readers of Beautiful Creatures and The Raven Boys.
Credit: Artist Terry Bell for this unbelievable drawing of George!
George Summerlin is a boy, no matter what he looks like. Born into a family cursed for stealing land, he has the wings of a bat, the horns of a bull, and the tail of a lizard. While his peculiar features don’t stop him from dribbling a basketball, they are the reason Mama keeps him hidden away on their derelict plantation. She calls it protection.
George calls it prison.
When Grace, a teenage root doctor, breaks into George’s room, hell-bent on capturing the beast terrorizing her island, George sees an opportunity. He isn’t the monster she’s hunting, though he owns a map that could lead her to the real thing—something she calls a Boo Hag, which haunts the marshes. He promises to give her the map, but only if she breaks his curse first.
Grace isn’t amused by George’s “deal.” After helping him escape, she dumps him in the woods. She’ll stop this monster with or without his help. Alone, George learns how centering himself has embroiled him in his family’s legacy of greed. Better to look like a monster than become one, he figures, until helping Grace exposes a twisted secret about the Boo Hag, Mama, and the Summerlin Curse that not only puts Grace’s soul in the monster’s sights, but proves George is more of a beast than he realized.
Complete at 75,000 words THE DEVIL IN THE ROOT is a YA Southern Gothic that examines allyship and privilege amidst the Gullah/ Geechee people’s ongoing fight against coastal development.
It was a finalist for the 2016 Rosemary Award for Excellence in YA Fiction and in the 2015 WisRWA Fab Five contest.
Ashley’s writing is represented by Christa Heschke of McIntosh & Otis.