2018 Weatherford award finalist for best Appalachian books 2017 Southern Book Prize Finalist                                                       2016 Foreword Indies Finalist


Monsters in Appalachia
by Sheryl Monks
Available from West Virginia Univ. Press

praise for monsters in appalachia

“A collection of fifteen stories, Sheryl Monks’s Monsters in Appalachia illuminates a fictional terrain that is both achingly familiar and underrepresented. Monks’s Appalachia is a place of miners laboring in impossibly dangerous conditions, poor women with drunken husbands, greed, exploitation, and desperate love. But it’s also a place where middle class children are bullied and young girls have mothers who are just a little too hot. It’s a place that’s broadly recognizable and relatable, yet Monks presents her characters in ways that are largely unexpected. Her fictional worlds are drawn with precision and insight, revealing surprising truths. Monks writes about people and places we don’t see enough in contemporary short stories.” ~ RT Both, Colorado Review

“Though Flannery O’Connor has influenced many of our most realistic, Southern Gothic authors, there aren’t too many women excelling in the art today — except, it is now clear, for Sheryl Monks.” ~ Rob Neufeld, Asheville Citizen Times

“A mix of darkly funny and shockingly somber stories, Sheryl Monks’s Monsters in Appalachia is an outstanding short story collection. She masterfully draws readers into many lives in Appalachia through setting, characters, and, most importantly, dialogue. Some stories are fantastical, others are more traditional, and all are worth reading, either one right after another or, slowly, one at a time.” ~ Allyson Hoffman, NewPages Book Review

“Monks’ attention to immediate consciousness is granular and gripping… Monsters in Appalachia made me want to go back, at least for a visit. To write about Appalachia is to write about America, as Poe realized, even if that is also where monsters are, and Sheryl Monks reports from this countryside as only a novelist can.”  ~ Ryan Boyd, The Los Angeles Review

“Monks knows her monsters, both literal and figurative. And she knows the territory of hills and hollers, where reality is sometimes heightened so sharply that it bleeds into myth. The 15 ferociously compressed stories in her collection sear their way into the reader’s brain…”
~ Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“A memorable debut: each of these stories is as original and multidimensional as the characters who inhabit them.” ~ Kirkus (starred review)

Monsters in Appalachia is wildly outrageous at times but there is empathy in these stories as well. Humor and sadness achieve a delicate balance.” ~ Ron Rash, bestselling author of Serena and Nothing Gold Can Stay

Monsters in Appalachia introduces a fresh, new voice in contemporary fiction, in stories of teenage angst, bonds of family, motherhood, and contradictions of middle age. Always surprising, with touches of humor and magic, and seductive, snake-handling preachers, these stories conjure both sorrow and mystery with intimate loving detail.”  ~ Robert Morgan, author of Gap Creek and The Balm of Gilead Tree

“Sheryl Monks writes with unflinching honesty and deep affection about the Appalachia I know: a place of imminent peril to both body and soul, home to lingering ghosts. Her gorgeous (but never merely decorative) language generously limns the hard mountain landscape as well as the luminously-realized and all-too-human folks who struggle there. This collection brought me home again.” ~ Pinckney Benedict, author of Miracle Boy and Other Stories and Dogs of God

“These elemental stories take on the dark Appalachian territory of David Joy and Ron Rash with a kind of raw, absolute, female confidence. Coal miners, snake handlers, smart, scary women at their wits end– all at the mercy of their terrific landscape. Monsters in Appalachia offers a glimpse of the edge of a world that seems freshly electric, and treacherous as hell.” ~ Ashley Warlick, author of The Arrangement and The Distance from the Heart of Things

“There’s music in these stories—visceral, rhythmical, soulful, deep. They are siren songs, taking us places we otherwise might not go.” ~ Kim Church, author of Byrd

“Sheryl Monks’s stories are gorgeously written dispatches from Appalachia, telling the difficult truth of what it is to survive in a place that can exact a heavy price. But these tales are generous too, and a particular grace sets on them all.”  ~ Charles Dodd White, author of A Shelter of Others and Sinners of Sanction County

“Sheryl Monks gives us such a range and depth of character in one collection. Her stories continue to delight and haunt long after reading.” ~ Renée K. Nicholson, author of Roundabout Directions to Lincoln Center

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