October 15, 2013
GenreDrama, Dystopian, Horror, Literary, Magical Realism, Mystery, Paranormal, Political, Southern, Suspense, Thriller
Audience Adult, New Adult, Young Adult
Word Count 40-60k (short)

Editing, Production, Marketing & Sales

Edited by Joann Curtin
Displayed & sold at Chupa Cabra House
Distributed by Amazon
Additional services through Elise Haultecoeur

Reviewed on January 4, 2016

Review by Candi Sary

The Rundown

In Ligatures by Sara Rich, Stanza’s life is unexpectedly turned upside down when her husband is killed in a bicycle accident. She moves out of their apartment in Belgium to the loneliness of her old hometown in rural Kansas. Although her father lives close, and she runs into some familiar faces at the university where she teaches, her days are rather solitary. Her only companion is her dog. She is an outcast. Her ideas conflict with the local religious community, and the lessons she teaches in her History of Western Religion course are controversial.

Stanza’s life takes on a strange new purpose when she comes upon a carving in the woods. She recognizes it as a symbol of Ozark magic and understands its promise to kill a witch. Her research into its significance leads to dark discoveries about her own history and eerie threats concerning her future.

Rich brings a wealth of religious knowledge to this novel. Stanza’s university lectures are fascinating to read and the plotline is intriguing with mythology, religion and witchcraft woven throughout. The novel proves to be both grounded and mystical as Rich uses facts and supernatural elements to tell her story. There is depth throughout the book, and tension that builds steadily to keep readers turning the pages. The setting is vivid and alive because of Rich’s elegant writing style. The first line of the novel reads: “The trees had an air of blushing, as if they’d been caught in the act of changing.”

The only critique to note is Rich’s use of coincidences in an attempt to pull things together. Given the complexity of the topic, it might be difficult for Stanza to make her discoveries without some luck—being in the right place at the right time, or meeting the right person who happens to share her obscure knowledge. It is understandable that coincidences can occur, but there were a few too many. Fortunately it doesn’t really take away from Rich’s otherwise impressive storytelling.

The Recommendation

Ligatures is for readers who appreciate beautiful language and enjoy a story that both entertains and stimulates thought. It is on the dark side, and is not a simple “feel good” read. Instead, it is a novel with depth and complexity and power. Sara Rich is absolutely an author to watch.

The Rating Reviewer Rating: 5 Stars

5 Stars (out of 5): Highly recommended. This book did exactly what it set out to do, with originality, style, and maybe even a twist. It stands out next to popular, traditionally published novels in its genre.

The Pros & Cons

Pros: Page Turner, Plot, Prose, Unique Style

Author’s Summary

Stanza Thompson knows how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but she can’t read the signs of the times. Not, at least, until the witching hour.

Stanza is a young American scholar working in Belgium when her husband, Pierre, is killed in a tragic bicycle accident. Devastated by her soul mate’s death, she moves back to her family home in rural Kansas. In her five-year absence, Stanza’s homeland – and especially her hometown – has become darkly twisted, creating something dangerously inhospitable to outsiders.

As rebellious as she is brilliant, Stanza is a stranger in the university where she teaches, even in the town where she was born and raised. With ghosts and feral hounds as companions, she stumbles upon a carving in the woods that harkens back to Ozark magic, promising to single out and kill a witch. This discovery sends Stanza on a tornadic quest into regional folklore, a string of historical murders, and the occult – and ultimately, into the mysteries of her own bloody heritage and fey destiny.

Composed of idiosyncratic characters and idiomatic prose, Ligatures combines elements of the weird, southern gothic, and magical realism to create a world that is familiar and terrifying at once. Between the suspense and the quality of writing, you won’t be able to put down this spellbinding book, even long after it’s finished. Online reviewers have called Ligatures “perceptive” with a “dimensional and complicated” protagonist that “brings to mind the early work of Barbara Kingsolver and Margaret Atwood.”

Short Description

Join Stanza on a tornadic quest into regional folklore, a string of historical murders, and the occult – and ultimately, into the mysteries behind her own bloody heritage and fey destiny. Between the suspense and the quality of writing, you won’t be able to leave aside this spellbinding first novel.


Magical realism meets Midwestern gothic in Kansas.

Additional Links

Find it on Goodreads

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