The Sisters of Glass Ferry

Written by Kim Michele Richardson
Review by Rebecca Kightlinger

Lost things spilled onto the Kentucky’s banks, into fishermen’s hands, more than a few, revealing age-old secrets.

Glass Ferry, Kentucky, June 1972. Patsy Butler’s been gone for twenty years. Some maintain she ran away with Danny Henry; most presume she’s dead. Yet Jean Butler has just baked another birthday cake for the daughter she’s sure is coming home today.

Patsy’s twin sister, Flannery, is just as sure that today will be a bitter disappointment for her mother. But as she prepares for another birthday-party-that-will-not-be, Flannery flips on the radio and hears that a mud-caked Mercury has just been pulled out of the Kentucky River, “shedding light on the decades old disappearance” of the sister Flannery last saw with Danny and Hollis Henry in Hollis’s Mercury, on Ebenezer Road, prom night, 1952.

Flannery harbors two secrets from that night: her own petty theft and the pact she made with Hollis. So, if that car is the one Patsy and Danny disappeared in, Flannery and Hollis will have a decision to make.

In The Sisters of Glass Ferry, Kim Michele Richardson once again evokes secretive, small-town Southern life, this time in the bourbon-distilling, riverside town of Glass Ferry. Told from Flannery’s and Patsy’s points of view, the nonlinear narrative weaves intriguing characters through the girls’ story: whiskey distiller Beauregard “Honey Bee” Burton; long-dead midwife Joetta Ebenezer, alleged to have been a witch and a murderess, whose spirit still haunts Ebenezer Road; and Hollis Henry, whose character arc takes him from abusive roughneck to town sheriff and family-man-with-a-secret. Like Gunnar Royal, the God-fearing onetime executioner in Richardson’s award-winning Godpretty in the Tobacco Field, it is the complex, enigmatic Hollis, a finely nuanced villain at the heart of the story, who continues to haunt long after Richardson’s skillfully crafted tale ends. Highly recommended.