Hi all, here’s one of my last reviews of the year coming at you from a frozen, absolutely snowed in Christmas Eve somewhere in Western NY.
Ahhh, so that’s why reading balmy southern Gothic seemed so appealing right now.
My lovely partner Celadon Books sent me an ARC of The Kingdoms of Savannah and included their lovely book club packet for the novel. Seeing as the ARC came in September (the book was released in July) and was unsolicited, I intended to read it this year but didn’t quite prioritize it.
Anyway, let’s see the read and then I’ll share some thoughts
Bookish Quick Facts:
- Title: The Kingdoms of Savannah
- Author: George Dawes Green
- Publisher & Release: Celadon Books, July 2022
- Length: 304 pages
- Rate & Recommend: ⭐⭐⭐⭐for those who like mysteries and literary fiction steeped in history
Here’s the synopsis from Am*zon:
Savannah may appear to be “some town out of a fable,” with its vine flowers, turreted mansions, and ghost tours that romanticize the city’s history. But look deeper and you’ll uncover secrets, past and present, that tell a more sinister tale. It’s the story at the heart of George Dawes Green’s chilling new novel, The Kingdoms of Savannah.
It begins quietly on a balmy Southern night as some locals gather at Bo Peep’s, one of the town’s favorite watering holes. Within an hour, however, a man will be murdered and his companion will be “disappeared.” An unlikely detective, Morgana Musgrove, doyenne of Savannah society, is called upon to unravel the mystery of these crimes. Morgana is an imperious, demanding, and conniving woman, whose four grown children are weary of her schemes. But one by one she inveigles them into helping with her investigation, and soon the family uncovers some terrifying truths―truths that will rock Savannah’s power structure to its core.
Moving from the homeless encampments that ring the city to the stately homes of Savannah’s elite, Green’s novel brilliantly depicts the underbelly of a city with a dark history and the strangely mesmerizing dysfunction of a complex family
So I know there is a lot of literature based in and around Savannah, which is a city in Georgia famous for ghost tours and it’s complicated southern history. I liked reading the author’s historical and personal notes as he drew much of the book from either personal experiences or those of his friends, and from real events. The result was a strong feeling of authenticity in setting and environment that sucked me into the story.
The balmy days, the rain, the locales, the iced tea and alcohol, the old ladies from old money maneuvering for social position… I kind of likened the reading experience to something that Wilbur Smith would put out, except maybe a little less exciting. I would love to see that author collaboration though *wink wink*
Ok back to Kingdoms – the mystery was exciting enough, except I thought that it went from zero to solved WAY too quickly and easily. One minute they had a few leads, and the next Morgana had solved it? I kind of followed her train of thought but I needed something more linking points A to Z.
As far as the characters… I liked them. I think Green did a good job with their personalities and interactions and showing how the family tended to ebb and flow in their relationships with each other. Read that as – the book nails southern Gothic. Is it bad that my favorite character was probably Gracie the dog though? Ha, no for real though I liked the cast of family, friends, and all the homeless people, there were again just soooo many names. My last and final thought is to mention that huge open ending! I won’t speculate for want of being spoiler free but I definitely wonder. If anyone wants to chat about it, I’m here for you 😅
Overall, this one was super readable. It was 100% a Celadon book: literary and atmospheric. There were only 5 chapters though, very long, more like parts of the book that were divided into separate mini sections. It made the read feel slower. The pacing was a little difficult but I was never bored while reading and did enjoy all the history and culture of Savannah. The book club materials were awesome too – I’m not in a book club but I liked the map, further history, author interview, drink recipes, and all the discussion questions seemed well curated.
Definitely recommend for fans of family drama, southern literary fiction, mysteries.
Thanks for checking out my arc / book review of The Kingdoms of Savannah by George Dawes Green! I was sent a free early copy in exchange for an honest review, and as always all opinions are my own ♥️