Wicked Temper by Randy Thornhorn

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An unnerving literary experience, like finding a fiddleback spider on one’s shoe or a copperhead snake coiled and ready to strike under one’s bed.


To Kill A Mockingbird collides with Deliverance!

Hitch a wild-ass ride with two runaway teens -- the runty but tough preacher's girl Tizzy Polk and her punk boyfriend Matthew. They might think they are Bonnie and Clyde, but they might also race headlong into an evil far greater than their own. They may come to see things darkly different and seldom seen on that bewitched mountain known below as Riddle Top.

Take care, folks say in story and song. Watch your step. And beware up there where the wind doth howl like the hellhound electric. Up there, where Tizzy and Matthew come knocking on a strange door. For nobody knows what awaits once you've disturbed your disturbing host. Your hands are in his hands now.

And the scariest thing of all? He's got all the time in this world.

Stark, poetic, haunting: Wicked Temper unfolds like a waking fever dream, a rockabilly heart of darkness. The kind you can kill but it don't stop beating.

Because, in the long and jagged shadow of Riddle Top lies a mountain world of unholy mirth and madness, of gods and demons you never knew existed ...

Wicked Temper is the premeditated prequel to Randy Thornhorn's The Kestrel Waters.


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Thirteen-year-old Tizzy Polk's father is a tyrannical preacher who's repeatedly warned her about boys like Matthew "RebelYell" Birdnell. The son of a pig farmer, Birdnell sees no future for himself in the mountains and wants out of Cayuga Ridge in the worst way­ and when he steals his father's '49 Studebaker pickup, Tizzy, searching for some kind of freedom, joins him with a little persuasion. With a stolen gun, the two runaways commit a series of crimes ... and attempt to evade the law by driving up some backwoods roads that lead to RiddleTop, a "great black crag with bristle hairs" that "gave up sunlight like a jagged miser then quickly stole it back." ... They quickly realize that the scary stories about the dark mountain are true.

A blend of Southern gothic and hillbilly noir, this story is utterly readable, in large part because of Thornhorn's masterful use of dialect, rich description, and immersive use of atmospherics. The power of this story undeniably comes from the author's darkly lyrical voice,and his sinister reimagining of Appalachia virtually comes alive on the page: "One tiny shack gave way to the next, each shack with its small barren field, desolate dead cornrows littered by blackbirds and autumn leaf." Even minor plot inconsistencies ... can't detract from the overall power of this story. Like the lovechild of William Faulkner and H.P. Lovecraft, Thornhorn, with his unique narrative style and twisted insight into southern life, makes this novel unforgettable.

An unnerving literary experience, like finding a fiddleback spideron one's shoe or a copperhead snake coiled and ready to strike underone's bed. ~ Kirkus Reviews


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About Randy Thornhorn

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Randy Thornhorn is the teller of many tales, including this one, and this novel's prequel, Wicked Temper. Author of the longest fiction ever published in The Oxford American Magazine, most of Mr. Thornhorn's stories occur in a displaced world, a fable-infested Southern region some would surely deem unsafe. He visits often, sometimes stays the night. Other nights he might be found on a wooded hilltop somewhere east of Montgomery in the land of Alabama. He seldom sees angels fly his skies. But magpies are another story.www.thornhorn.com
Published January 10, 2014 318 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Horror, Science Fiction & Fantasy. Non-fiction
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Above average
on Jul 20 2015

An unnerving literary experience, like finding a fiddleback spider on one’s shoe or a copperhead snake coiled and ready to strike under one’s bed.

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