Title: Speak No Evil
Author: Liana Gardner
Publisher: Vesuvian Books
Publication Date: October 1, 2019
Genres: Mystery, Young Adult
From the publisher—
What if every time you told the truth, evil followed?
My name is Melody Fisher. My daddy was a snake handler in Appalachia until Mama died. Though years have passed, I can still hear the rattle before the strike that took her from me.
And it’s all my fault.
Since then, I’ve been passed around from foster home to foster home. I didn’t think anything could be as bad as losing Mama.
I was wrong.
But I will not speak of things people have done to me. Every time I do, worse evil follows. Now, the only thing I trust is what saved me years ago.
Back when I would sing the snakes calm …
There’s a certain vibe that comes with the mere idea of snake handling, a vibe that is a mix of religious fundamentalism, backwoods living and a touch of macho man. Most of us can’t begin to really understand why people engage in the practice but there’s no doubt we’re fascinated by it.
The young Melody is a tragic figure whose life has been in a downward spiral ever since her mother was killed by one of her father’s snakes and, through backflashes, we see what has happened to this child over the years. It’s not surprising, really, that Melody has stopped speaking, especially since her voice, as beautiful as it is, has not served her well. Can she find a way to explain why she stabbed a classmate and will she find release in the music she has always loved?
Ms. Gardner spins a tale that is full of emotion of all sorts and I found an immediate connection to this young girl. Various subject matters could have been overwhelmingly dark but the author finds the right amount of light and I think I’ll remember this book for a long time.
Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, October 2019.
An Excerpt from Speak No Evil
Uncle Harlan slammed my bedroom door open. “You’re going to learn to show the Lord respect, girl.” He grabbed my neck and forced me to walk in front of him.
My neck hurt where he dug his fingers in.
He took me outside and shoved me toward the shed. He slipped the key in the lock and removed it from the hasp. The door creaked as it opened and then he thrust me through.
“I’m not going to allow you to follow your mother’s footsteps. You’ll learn to make peace with snakes and not show them any fear. Or else.”
He grabbed a snake case from the shelf, put it on the ground, and opened it. He stepped backward out of the shed and swung the door shut. The latch clicked. Uncle Harlan on one side of the door, and the snake and me locked inside.
“I’ll come get you in time for school in the morning.”
His footsteps receded.
Light filtered through the cracks in the shed slats. In the dim light, the snake coiled in the corner, its tongue flicking out periodically. I slowly lowered to the ground and hugged Raksha Waya tight.
The inside of the shed was slightly warmer than outside. Staying warm might be a bigger problem than keeping the snake calm. It ignored me and remained coiled, but the cold seeped into my bones. I scanned the shelves. There had to be something in here I could use to help keep warm.
A tarp sat on a shelf on the opposite side of the shed from the snake. But I might not be tall enough to pull it down. Standing on tiptoes, I grabbed a corner and tugged. My fingers slipped. I set Rakkie on a lower shelf, then reached with both hands and tugged.
The weight of the tarp almost knocked me over as I caught it.
Making sure to keep my movements small so I didn’t threaten the snake, I unfolded the tarp and spread it out. Then I grabbed Rakkie and carefully crawled under a corner. Once settled with Rakkie on my lap, I pulled it over us and tucked it under my chin.
The hours passed as the light changed and moved through the shed. My tailbone ached and my back hurt from sitting still for so long. Twilight came. Surely Uncle Harlan didn’t really mean to leave me here with the snake all night.
When the darkness was complete and I could no longer see my hand in front of my face, I faced the hard truth—Uncle Harlan meant it. I’d spend the night locked in a small space with a pit viper.
While my toes still felt frozen, the rest of me was warmer with the tarp. My eyes drooped and closed. Then I heard it.
Hiss. Rattle. The whisper of something dragging across the floorboards.
The snake was on the move. The slight rattle as it slithered through the shed made my heart pound. I froze.
About the Author
Liana Gardner is the multi-award-winning author of 7th Grade Revolution (most recently the recipient of a 2018 Nautilus Book Award) and The Journal of Angela Ashby. The daughter of a rocket scientist and an artist, Liana combines the traits of both into a quirky yet pragmatic writer and in everything sees the story lurking beneath the surface.
Liana volunteers with high school students through EXP (expfuture.org). EXP unites business people and educators to prepare students for a meaningful place in the world of tomorrow. Working in partnership with industry and educators, EXP helps young people EXPerience, EXPand, and EXPlore.
Engaged in a battle against leukemia and lymphoma, Liana spends much of her time at home, but her imagination takes her wherever she wants to go.
Liana is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.
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This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted
by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours
for Vesuvian Books and Liana Gardner.
There will be 1 winner of one (1) Amazon.com
Gift Card and 2 winners of a signed print copy
of Speak No Evil by Liana Gardner. The
giveaway begins on October 1, 2019 and
runs through December 2, 2019. Open to
U.S. addresses only. Void where prohibited.