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The Daughters of Block Island
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In this ingenious and subversive twist on the classic gothic novel, the mysterious past of an island mansion lures two sisters into a spiderweb of scandal, secrets, and murder.

Two sisters, strangers since birth yet bound by family secrets, are caught up in a century-old mystery on an isolated island.

After arriving on Block Island to find her birth mother, Blake Bronson becomes convinced she's the heroine of a gothic novel-the kind that allowed her intermittent escape from a traumatic childhood. How else to explain the torrential rain, the salt-worn mansion known as White Hall, and the restless ghost purported to haunt its halls? But before Blake can discern the novel's ending, she's found dead, murdered in a claw-foot tub. The proprietress of White Hall stands accused.

Summoned by a letter sent from Blake before she died, Thalia Mills returns to the island she swore she'd left for good. She finds that Blake wasn't the first to die at White Hall under suspicious circumstances. Thalia must uncover the real reason for Blake's demise before the forces conspiring to keep Block Island's secrets dead and buried rise up to consume her too.

Editorial Reviews

“Great fun for readers…” – Kirkus Reviews

“This compelling and atmospheric thriller pays homage to classic gothic novels while still adding something fresh to the beloved genre. An easy sell to fans of the Brontës but also those who enjoy the creepy, psychological suspense of Simone St. James.” – Booklist

“The gothic horror novel just received a massive shot of adrenaline to its bleak-but-beautiful-heart. . . a stunning novel that arrives in the final month of the year, just in time for the calendar's longest nights of darkness. In this debut novel, Carmen doesn't attempt to top the classics; instead, she subverts them in a unique manner. She embraces the tropes that made the subgenre what it is and forges an enthralling tale of two sisters, a strange town, and a cast of characters that would make the masters proud . . . If this is any indication of what Christa Carmen can bring into the world, readers will be smiling under candlelight for years to come. An exceptional new talent has arrived.” – Cemetery Dance

“Christa Carmen celebrates the gothic in this twisty, spooky tour de force that ticks all the boxes with panache and style! This love child of Barbara Michaels and John Harwood has written a chilling page-turner guaranteed to keep you up all night. The Daughters of Block Island is a top-notch read!” – Nancy Holder, Lifetime Achievement Award Winner, Horror Writers Association

“I have been a Christa Carmen fan since reading her collection, Something Borrowed, Something Blood-Soaked. I knew she could tell a hell of a short story and her novel, The Daughters of Block Island, does not disappoint. The mystery leaves the reader feeling like they are trying to escape a twisted haunted dollhouse without knowing what is real or imagined. Lovers of gothic fiction should pick up this book that contains a wealth of nods to the genre, but also discusses personal horrors like addiction, abuse, and mental health.” – V. Castro, Bram Stoker Award-nominated author of Goddess of Filth and The Queen of the Cicadas

“Christa Carmen's The Daughters of Block Island is a tantalizing love letter to gothic fiction, imbued with rain-soaked atmosphere and scandal-ridden mysteries that unravel to reveal the dark beating heart at the center of a mysterious island mansion. Readers of gothic novels will delight in nods to classic works and the way the past continues to haunt the present in White Hall. Filled with intrigue, this book is the perfect addition to your bookshelf, tucked in beside Radcliffe and du Maurier!” – Jo Kaplan, author of It Will Just Be Us

“With its lush and exquisite language, Christa Carmen's The Daughters of Block Island honors and explores the great gothic novels of the past, but here the rules are rewritten. Be prepared to find yourself in White Hall's spider's web.” – Cynthia Pelayo, Bram Stoker Award-nominated author of Children of Chicago

“The Daughters of Block Island offers an atmospheric, harrowing plight of ghosts and murder. Christa Carmen paints an island of vivid and unsettling imagery, where every claustrophobic twist leads deeper into an underworld of dread. A compelling mystery, with arresting characters ready to engulf you.” – Hailey Piper, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of The Worm and His Kings

“Christa Carmen has long been one of my favorite horror authors, and The Daughters of Block Island is further proof that she's among the most important voices in the genre today. A clever inversion and exploration of gothic tropes, this is a debut novel unlike any other. A true macabre masterpiece, this book is a must-read.” – Gwendolyn Kiste, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of The Rust Maidens and Reluctant Immortals

“In The Daughters of Block Island Christa Carmen cleverly combines classic elements of the Victorian literary canon in a fast-paced island intrigue that is atmospheric and enigmatic. A tale to rival Ann Radcliffe's own The Mysteries of Udolpho, told in exquisite prose and embracing contemporary themes, Carmen's debut novel is a triumph of the modern gothic genre.” – Lee Murray, five-time Bram Stoker Awards-winning author of Grotesque: Monster Stories

“The Daughters of Block Island immerses the reader in the inexorable, chilling, uneasy atmosphere one hopes for in a Gothic novel. Classically genre-aware while still being inventive, Carmen has a compelling voice no matter which of the sisters is taking the lead. Generational trauma, true villainy, tragedy, loss and resilience collide in a rushing tide of a powerfully wrought story.” – Leanna Renee Hieber, award-winning author of Strangely Beautiful and A Haunted History of Invisible Women

From the Publisher

This time of year, when there's a sharp chill in the air and the dark nights grow longer, is my favorite season for curling up with a great suspense story. There's something about family secrets, moody weather, foreboding locations, and the real possibility of ghosts that is appealing anytime but feels particularly satisfying in the months when the warmth of summer feels like a distant memory and I can shiver along with the main characters as they roam the foggy cliffs and spooky mansions of their narratives.

But what happens in a book where the heroines themselves recognize that they are in the middle of a gothic story? That's the genius twist at the heart of Christa Carmen's compulsively readable debut. Sisters Blake and Thalia, strangers in life, are brought together after Blake's death when the secrets of Block Island and the mysteries of their own family—including the puzzle of Blake's true parentage—inspire a series of events that the gothic-loving sisters, each in her own timeline, recognize, even as they struggle to escape the seemingly unstoppable force of the island's darkness.

In The Daughters of Block Island, Christa Carmen has given us a tale with all the hallmarks of a classic, and added a modern twist that kept me up late into a blustery night, eager to find out what would happen next.

Grace Doyle, Editor

Upcoming Events

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Events for The Daughters of Block Island
The Daughters of Block Island Tour Dates
Dec 9, 2023
Rarities Books & Bindery, Wakefield, RI, 1 0am
Stillwater Books, West Warwick, RI, 2 pm

Dec 10, 2023
RI Boutique, Mystic, CT, 4 pm

Jan 11, 2024
Books on the Square, Providence, RI, 6 pm

Jan 17, 2024
Ashaway Free Library, Ashaway, RI, 6 pm

Jan 24, 2024
Barrington Books, Barrington, RI, 6:30 pm

Jan 30, 2024
North Kingstown Free Library, North Kingstown, RI, 6:30 pm

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It’s the question asked of any story about a haunting: why didn’t you just leave? If accounts of people who have stayed in haunted houses are any indication, it’s never that simple. There are a lot of reasons why people don’t just leave scary situations, and these smart, spooky stories reflect the complexity behind that question.
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