Published: 6 April 2023
Author: Margot Douaihy
Published by: Pushkin Press
Length: 320 pages / 9 hrs 54 mins
Reading dates: 21-27 March 2023
Sister Holiday is more faithful than most, but she’s no saint.
When Saint Sebastian’s School becomes the target of a shocking arson spree, the Sisters of the Sublime Blood and their surrounding community are thrust into chaos. Unsatisfied with the authorities’ response, chain-smoking, heavily tattooed, queer nun Sister Holiday becomes determined to unveil the mysterious attacker herself.
To solve this high-stakes mystery, Sister Holiday will have to reckon with the sins of her chequered past. Her investigation leads down a twisty path of suspicion and secrets in the sticky, oppressive New Orleans heat, turning her against colleagues, students, and even fellow Sisters along the way.
Sister Holiday is a nun like no other! Heavily tattooed, queer, with a gold tooth, she enjoys contraband cigarettes she takes from her students and swears a lot. She teaches music at Saint Sebastian’s school after having recently moved to New Orleans to take her vows. While having a sneaky cigarette one night, she realises the school is on fire and her friend Jack, a janitor from the school falls from a window and is killed. Sister Holiday returns to the school to check all the students are out and saves two, narrowly escaping with her life.
I was thrilled to find out that Scorched Grace is the first in a series of Sister Holiday books. She is a fantastic character, fiery, cool and doesn’t suffer fools gladly. She is keen to help solve the mystery of the fire and is frustrated by the efforts of the police, especially when it appears someone is trying to set her up as the arsonist. Her investigations lead her to suspect everyone including students and even the nuns! As she narrates the book and tells us the story, I really got a feel for her as a character and loved her. The story weaves between her current investigation and her past, and it is one of sex, drugs and rock n roll but also one that is terribly sad.
I was lucky enough to listen the audio of Scorched Grace on Netgalley which was narrated by the amazing Mara Wilson and it was a brilliant listen. I thoroughly enjoyed this and can’t wait for the next instalment.
With thanks to Tara from Pushkin for inviting me on the blog tour and sending me a finished copy of the book. Please check out what other reviewers are saying below:
About the author
Margot Douaihy lives and works in Northampton, MA. She earned a BA in Writing from the University of Pittsburgh, an MA in Creative & Life Writing from Goldsmiths, University of London, and a PhD in Creative Writing from Lancaster University.
Douaihy is the author of the lyrical crime novel SCORCHED GRACE (Gillian Flynn Books, 2023), which was named a New York Times Editors’ Choice and one of the “most anticipated crime books” of the year by Crime Reads and LGBTQ Reads. She is also the author of the poetry collections Bandit/Queen: The Runaway Story of Belle Starr, Scranton Lace, Girls Like You (Clemson University Press) and I Would Ruby If I Could (Factory Hollow Press).
A Co-Editor of the Cambridge University Press Elements in Crime Narrative Series and Multimodal/Multimedia Section Editor of Journal of Creative Writing Studies, Douaihy’s work has been featured in Adirondack Review, American Microreviews & Interviews, APIARY, Atticus Review, Broadkill Review, Catamaran Literary Reader, Cleaver Magazine, Colorado Review, The Common by Amherst College, Diode, Exposition Review, Indianapolis Review, The Florida Review, North American Review, ONE ART Poetry Journal, PBS NewsHour, The Madison Review, Muswell Press, Mystery Tribune, Portland Review, and others.
An award-winning educator, editor, and mentor, Douaihy has held teaching positions at Marywood University and the Creative Alliance of New Orleans. Currently, she teaches Creative Writing and Editing/Publishing at Franklin Pierce University in Rindge, NH.
Honors include a Mass Cultural Council Artist Fellowship (2022), The Florida Review Humboldt Poetry Prize, Runner-Up (2021), Aesthetica Magazine Creative Writing Award, Finalist (2021), Ernest Hemingway Foundation Hemingway Shorts, Finalist (2021), Lambda Literary Award Poetry, Finalist (2015), and First Book Foundation of Greater New Orleans Grant, Winner (2009).
A founding member of the Creative Writing Studies Organization and an active member of the Association of Writers & Writing Programs and Radius of Arab American Writers (RAWI), Douaihy is represented by United Agents, Laura Macdougall (literary) and Jennifer Thomas (screen).