Lily is a girl who discovers she has the ability to see how others will die simply by touching them. Only she doesn't want this gift, and takes extreme measure to protect herself from it. When her mother--because every fairy tale has to have a wicked (step)mother--sells Lily's services to an evangelical preacher and his wildly popular travelling tent revival, Lily is torn away from the idyllic place she's always known as home and thrust into a world of greed and manipulation that threatens to destroy her unless she can find a way back....if she survives the quest the old witch Baba Yaga has given her...or the attention of the tent revivalist who promises to save her soul.
"As Andersen has done for the book’s beautifully bizarre yet detailed illustrations, Ford has filled his novel with customs and side stories—some no more than a sentence or two—that make the world feel real, wonderful, and horrifying simultaneously...this novel is at heart a fairy tale in the grand, dark tradition of the best of such stories; the book speaks to the reader’s deepest fears and highest hopes, told through the odyssey of a girl who is scared by what is happening around her and within her." - Kirkus Reviews
"The last thing I thought would happen to me when I read this novel was cry: not once, but several times—the kind of tears that make you put down the pages, press your hands against your face, and sob like a child. Lily is the heart-breaking story of a lonely young girl and a curious old woman, of their reluctant and hesitant, then breathtaking and courageous, journeys into the women they were destined to become. It is a fairy tale that takes place in the magical world, in the real world, and within themselves—at once terrifying, sorrowful, and triumphant, revealing the wondrous mysteries of life and death through exquisite prose and illustrations." - Livia Llewellyn, author of Engines of Desire and Furnace
"Such gorgeous imagery throughout this novel – both in the stark beauty of the story and in the illustrations that accompany it. Lily is atmospheric, gothic, magical, touching, and haunted, with moments of suspense and terror, like a dream mixed with a nightmare. Lily makes me think of Stephen King’s troubled young misfits and the heartbreaking heroines in the fairy tales of Hans Christian Andersen." - Tim Schaffert, author of The Swan Gondola and Lady of the Burlesque Ballet
"This is one of those books in which the story is so strange it reads rather like a dream you once had. And the writing is so good, you forget you're even reading. You don't read Lily -- it projects itself into your soul -- in flickering chiaroscuro -- smudgy and sparkly at the same time, like Staven Andersen's wonderful illustrations. The novel is unnerving and gorgeous -- I love the quiet heroism of Lily, the girl who can foretell anyone's death. And the sordid awfulness of the revivalist circus and its born-again clowns. Most of all I adored the grisly, shrieking nastiness of this incarnation of Baba Yaga." - Paul Magrs, author of The Adventures of Brenda and Effie series and Lost on Mars
"Not since Katherine Dunn's Geek Love has a cast of carnival workers been so darkly delightful or terrifyingly twisted. Lily's journey is a treacherous one, not only through the physical world but through the ethereal world, as she struggles to make sense of magic, religion and 'the woman' growing inside her. You'll be as taken with Lily as is the joyfully mischievous Baba Yaga, as she shadows the girl's every move, acting as the fairy godmother you never knew you wanted. Michael Thomas Ford weaves a delicate tale of love and cruelty in Lily so expertly you will pray he never runs out of straw to spin." - Dayna Ingram, author of All Good Children