P R E S S  &  R E V I E W S

“Refreshingly, Cottonmouths refuses to romanticize unrequited love . . . Cottonmouths is not a love story: it’s a tale of resentment, venomous betrayal, and the wounds hidden beneath familiar surfaces. Through a kaleidoscope of characters, Ford’s dark novel shows us the choices people make when the world denies them good options, and the consequences of complicity.”
Lambda Literary

“Filled with foreboding and anguished desire, Cottonmouths is a perfectly-paced drama of the perils of loyalty, love, and homecoming. A terrific novel by an exciting new queer voice.” ―Christopher Castellani, author of All This Talk of Love

“Gripping and atmospheric. A tense tale of the specific gravity of the places and the people we come from, and can never fully leave behind.” ―Kate Racculia, Bellweather Rhapsody

“A taut page-turner trembling with desire and regret, Kelly J. Ford’s debut Cottonmouths, strips away nostalgia for person and place when the return of one young woman reveals the rotting core of a small southern town, unraveling with the ferocity of addiction, and forcing a painful lesson― she must learn to let go of her delusions in both love and friendship before it’s too late.” ―Michelle Hoover, author of Bottomland

“Kelly J. Ford’s Cottonmouths is a fierce first novel―startling in its grip and authenticity. It’s a novel about desire and desperation and the perilous danger of loving broken people in broken places.” ―Travis Mulhauser, author of Sweetgirl

“A compelling story of unrequited love, identity, and the power of letting go.” ―Heather Newton, author of Under the Mercy Trees

“Part noir, part Southern Gothic, Cottonmouths is far more than the sum of these parts, an original story that haunted me after I read it. Kelly J. Ford’s unflinching prose plunges readers into the town of Drear’s Bluff, where what’s familiar isn’t what’s safe and where desire proves deadly.” ―Stephanie Gayle, author of Idyll Threats

“With prose as lyrical and languid as a hot Arkansas summer, Kelly J. Ford explores the myopia of desire―and its tragic aftermath. I found myself torn between wanting to rip through these pages to find out what would happen, and a need to slow down and savor Ford’s sentences. A remarkable debut.” ―Lisa Borders, author of The Fifty-First State

“Kelly J. Ford delivers a sharp punch to the gut with this tightly spun modern noir tale. I can’t wait to read more from this author.” ―Tiffany Quay Tyson, author of Three Rivers

“Kelly J. Ford’s novel Cottonmouths captures life in backwoods America like a fish in a frying pan. Ford takes her young, raw, flailing characters and rakes them over the heat of a high-octane plot until their vulnerable insides sizzle on the page.” ―Shelf Awareness

“The aptly named Drear’s Bluff could be transposed to just about any Smalltown, USA, in the sense of its small-mindedness and its resistance to change… Ford’s novel features a lesbian protagonist, yet her sexuality is only one facet of her strongly drawn character. Emily suffers from unrequited love, from betrayal, and from a longing for meaning and acceptance. Her struggles, as well as those of her family and community, are universal struggles set in a brutal reality where choices are scarce. Read this debut novel for its ability to go beneath the surface, striking impressive depths of character and setting.” ―The Museum of Americana

“COTTONMOUTHS, another book that seems to sample the new territory wrought by David Joy and Frank Bill, is an original addition to the meth and magnolia genre. . . . This debut novel from Kelly J. Ford is sensitive yet brutal, with Ford giving her protagonist Emily believable flaws while nailing small-town southern culture in the new world that has replaced Welty and Connery with Joy and Crews. A terrific new voice in the genre.” ―Shelf Discovery

“Cottonmouths paints a disturbing picture of deep darkness lurking just below the surface of small-town America.” ―Mystery Scene magazine

“We talk about the need for diverse books in America; Cottonmouths shows us a version of our country seldom given its own narrative. Kelly J. Ford writes with honesty, subtlety, and grace.” —Patricia Park, Re Jane

Cottonmouths is an astonishingly assured debut from Kelly J. Ford, a writer who daringly plumbs the depths of both love and despair in a new and chilling South rendered with taut and pitch-perfect detail. Trust me, this is a book you will remember.” ―Kimberly Elkins, author of What is Visible

“Kelly J. Ford’s Cottonmouths is a heartbreaking debut about the lies we tell ourselves to brave the past—and the truths we hide that hurt us most. An honest, unflinching portrait of yearning and loss.” –Andy Davidson, author of In the Valley of the Sun