The best in southern gothic with a heart

Lillah Lawson Author Of Monarchs Under the Sassafras Tree
By Lillah Lawson

Who am I?

I am the author of three novels (with two more set to release next year); Monarchs Under the Sassafras Tree; The Dead Rockstar Trilogy; and I'm happiest when straddling literary genres. I have published works of historical fiction, as well as southern gothic, horror, speculative fiction, dark fantasy, and literary fiction. My debut, Monarchs Under the Sassafras Tree was nominated for Georgia Author of the Year in 2020. In addition to writing, I am a genealogist and recently went back to school to obtain my history degree. My love of writing, history, and family all intersect to inform my writing and I always set my characters in good old Georgia.


I wrote...

Monarchs Under the Sassafras Tree

By Lillah Lawson,

Book cover of Monarchs Under the Sassafras Tree

What is my book about?

It is Indian summer, 1929, and O.T. Lawrence is about as content as a cotton farmer can be in Five Forks, Georgia—nothing, not poverty, drought, or even the boll weevil can spoil the idyllic family life he shares with his doting wife and children, and his beloved twin brother Walt. Until illness and Black Tuesday take everything O.T. ever held dear in one fell swoop. Grieving, drinking, and careening towards homelessness, O.T. is on the brink of ending it all when he receives an odd letter from a teenage acquaintance, the enigmatic Sivvy Hargrove, who is locked away in Milledgeville’s asylum for the insane. Traveling through desperate antebellum towns, O.T. and his daughter Ginny are determined to find Sivvy and discover her story. 

The books I picked & why

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Cold Sassy Tree

By Olive Ann Burns,

Book cover of Cold Sassy Tree

Why this book?

This was a favorite novel of both of my grandparents, who have since passed on, and they encouraged me to read it as a teen. It soon became one of my favorite books. Olive Ann Burns was local to the county where I grew up, so I love it for the local aspect, but also it’s just a really warm, funny, poignant novel that lovingly, hilariously details southern families and all the happiness, heartbreak, and drama they go through. 


Where the Crawdads Sing

By Delia Owens,

Book cover of Where the Crawdads Sing

Why this book?

I’ve had a few readers tell me that my novel reminds me of this book. In fact, they did come out around the same time, but I think Owens’ book is in a class all its own. Her lyrical language combined with the unique backdrop and premise of the novel give it a distinctly southern gothic flare that we need more of in literature. 


God's Little Acre

By Erskine Caldwell,

Book cover of God's Little Acre

Why this book?

Erskine Caldwell is deeply underrated; for my money, he’s one of the best southern gothic writers in the genre. Perhaps it’s down to the risque nature of his books and characters, which were especially provocative (and in some cases, downright despicable) for the time period. However, beyond the depravity there is a real beating heart in his books that perfectly capture the desperation and grief of depression-era Georgia. 


The Third Life of Grange Copeland

By Alice Walker,

Book cover of The Third Life of Grange Copeland

Why this book?

Alice Walker is one of my all-time favorite authors and inspirations, and not just because she’s from Georgia, like me. The Third Life of Grange Copeland is my favorite novel of hers; in it, she captures beautifully the fraught relationship between a hardened old man and his granddaughter, who he is determined to do right by after a lifetime of doing wrong. It is a heartbreaking, stark, beautiful novel. 


Revival

By Stephen King,

Book cover of Revival

Why this book?

This novel is the perfect blend of historical fiction and horror, and King perfectly captures small-town rural life among people who hold a little too strongly to both tradition and stereotypes. The novel invokes that particular dread that can only be raised by those philosophical questions that one can’t seem to answer; the horror of the unknown. Plus, given my own book, I have a soft spot for traveling preachers who aren’t what they seem. 


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Georgia (USA), African-American men, and good and evil?

5,887 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Georgia (USA), African-American men, and good and evil.

Georgia (USA) Explore 48 books about Georgia (USA)
African-American Men Explore 18 books about African-American men
Good And Evil Explore 68 books about good and evil

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like Anne of Green Gables, The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek, and The Handmaid's Tale if you like this list.