As the Civil War winds violently down, fears of the South’s uncertain future fuse with its unraveling traditions. Against the backdrop of this post-apocalyptic landscape, so littered with corpses and mythology and desperation, two women, stranded and alone in the Louisiana bayou, fight to survive.

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Praise for Hagridden:

Samuel Snoek-Brown writes the kind of prose I like best—muscular but spare, lovely but harsh. This is a novel to read, a writer to watch. Highly, highly recommended.

~ Tom Franklin, New York Times bestselling author of Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter.

Hagridden‘s a page-turner of the very best sort: historically authentic and highly literate, yet replete with the gritty pleasures of a crime thriller. Though the novel speaks to the horror, exhilaration, and relentlessness of war throughout time, its characters feel utterly grounded in their particular place and period. A debut to reckon with.

~ Pinckney Benedict, author Gods of War and Miracle Boy

Hagridden is a novel for the ages, with the shades of McCarthy and Gay, par exemple, and a book that will let you hear the backwoods howling and force the hair to stand upright on the back of your neck. It’s that good, that unforgettable.

~ Rusty Barnes, author of Reckoning

There is a strain of Gothic dread running through 20th century Southern literature, and it is clearly visible in Hagridden. Stylistically, the novel owes something to Faulkner and Cormac McCarthy: oppressively lush landscapes, dialogue lacking all punctuation, and sometimes jarring contrast between characters’ rich inner lives and their spare, gnomic utterances. [. . .] When done well, as it is here, it creates a sense that the reader is looking into a separate and complete world, eerily similar to our own but tilted slightly toward the abstract. [. . .] With radical empathy towards deeply flawed characters and an ability to find the exquisite in the mundane, Snoek-Brown has created a complex and brilliant novel. Though its themes are dark and horrifying, there is a great deal of beauty in this book.

~ Paul Adams (from The Austin Review)

The author’s description of the abject poverty in which the women live and the acts they commit to survive is unflinchingly detailed which makes for a slightly revolting (at times) but compelling read. The introduction of a local man who has deserted the war brings another level to the women’s lives. [. . .] The ensuing struggle between Buford and the older woman over possession of the younger woman weaves a dramatic tale that teases out issues of religion, myth, superstition, loyalty, and lust. The legend of the rougarou is woven throughout the book and is brought to chilling prominence with the addition of the crazed lieutenant of Buford’s regiment who is out to hunt him down and exact a premeditated revenge that will keep you glued to the pages.

~ Charlotte Hamrick (from NOLA Femmes)

Two women attempt to live in the bayou of Louisiana as the Civil War rages in the rest of the country outside. I’ve seen so many books about people wrapped up in the war itself, I’m curious to see how Snoek-Brown develops characters who are affected by the war but are still removed from it to some degree. Given the magnitude of emotion Snoek-Brown called up in Box Cutters, this one promises big.

~ David S. Atkinson, author of Bones Buried in Dirt (from The Great 2014 Indie Press Preview)

The voice in the paragraph struck me immediately. I wanted to scroll through the rest of the book and see if it was all in this voice, but that would be cheating on the paragraph review. Because I love you, Dear Reader, I restrained myself. (The second this gets approved for publication, on the site, though, you know what I’m doing.) [. . .] Paragraph Review’s conclusion for the week? Go get that book!

~ Jessica Standifird, author and poet (from Blue Skirt Productions)

There is much to like about this novel. The writing is haunting, simple, and blunt. The characters are colorful and three-dimensional, always surprising, even shocking. There is a lot of killing in this book, so you’d better have a hard stomach. I looked beyond the continual violence to take note of how devastating, how stripped, how desperate life for those in the south who survived the war had to endure. [. . .] If you like your stories dark and that embrace violence, then I’m sure you’ll enjoy this very unique novel. It’s definitely a gripper!

~ Mirella Patzer, (from Historical Novel Review)

What makes Snoek-Brown’s story worth looking at is the examination of what constitutes an apocalypse. Most readers have read or watched other Civil War stories, and while they may give some indication of the scope of the disaster for the residents of the South, nothing I have ever read has shown the personal toll of war in the way Snoek-Brown’s book has. [. . .] Snoek-Brown encapsulates the tragic ways that world events hit the poor hardest.

~ Lise Quintana, publisher at Zoetic Press

Related stories:

Also by Samuel Snoek-Brown

There Are No False Alarms, a nonfiction chapbook

TINOWtWT front cover

There Is No Other Way to Worship Them, a story collection


Where There Is Ruin, a fiction chapbook


Box Cutters, a fiction chapbook

3 thoughts on “Hagridden

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