A thrilling gothic horror novel about biracial twin sisters separated at birth, perfect for fans of Lovecraft Country and The Vanishing Half
As infants, twin sisters Charlie Yates and Magnolia Heathwood were secretly separated after the brutal lynching of their parents, who died for loving across the color line. Now, at the dawn of the Civil Rights Movement, Charlie is a young Black organizer in Harlem, while white-passing Magnolia is the heiress to a cotton plantation in rural Georgia.
Magnolia knows nothing of her racial heritage, but secrets are hard to keep in a town haunted by the ghosts of its slave-holding past. When Magnolia finally learns the truth, her reflection mysteriously disappears from mirrors—the sign of a terrible curse. Meanwhile, in Harlem, Charlie's beloved grandmother falls ill. Her final wish is to be buried back home in Georgia—and, unbeknownst to Charlie, to see her long-lost granddaughter, Magnolia Heathwood, one last time. So Charlie travels into the Deep South, confronting the land of her worst nightmares—and Jim Crow segregation.
The sisters reunite as teenagers in the deeply haunted town of Eureka, Georgia, where ghosts linger centuries after their time and dangers lurk behind every mirror. They couldn’t be more different, but they will need each other to put the hauntings of the past to rest, to break the mirrors’ deadly curse—and to discover the meaning of sisterhood in a racially divided land.
Biracial twins separated at birth navigate colorism, racism, and the ghosts of their shared past in McWilliams's (Agnes at the End of the World) atmospheric historical novel. In 1953, Charlie Yates, who is Black and works as an organizer in Harlem, travels "home" with her dying grandmother to segregated Eureka, Ga. where Charlie's interracial parents were murdered, and where the veil between the living and the dead is thin. There, a mystical mirror reveals that dark-skinned Charlie has a long-lost sister, Magnolia Heathwood, who, lacking knowledge of her ancestry, has always passed for white in Eureka, living on her paternal family's plantation. As a change mysteriously wrests Magnolia's reflection from every mirror, spirits guide a questioning Charlie to fulfill their late mother's final wish: to "fix what's been broken" between the sisters. The two seek Magnolia's reflection amid tension in the community, Charlie navigating segregationists' threats while Magnolia struggles to both find her way out of a system that has until now benefited her and decide who she wants to be when she looks in the mirror. Literalizing the ghosts of the Deep South through a lively backdrop of haunted mansions and vengeful spirits, McWilliams employs alternating chapters voiced by each sister to take on the issue of colorism, resulting in a tender display of sisterhood and bravery amid historical truths. Ages 12 up.