"Compelling, gripping, and evocative, Speak No Evil is a study in personality development, horror, how support systems for teens can either succeed or fail, and the impact a caring adult can have on a teenager's life." ~D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review
“... outstanding ... I had a tear in my eye on more than one occasion. A quite beautiful book I am very happy to champion by buying for my library.” ~Ginger Nuts of Horror
“Expect a paranormal twist, spooky mountain folklore, rattlesnake handling and much soul searching as Melody makes peace with herself—and the trauma she has endured.” ~Girls' Life Magazine (Oct/Nov 2019 issue)
“Gardner’s storytelling displays the same sort of sinister charm as she unravels Melody’s past to tell the story of her present. Speak No Evil is at once hypnotic, vaguely sinister, and decidedly beautiful, with sharp, poignant prose that handles the heaviest of issues with grace and delicacy.” ~The Nerd Daily
What if every time you told the truth, evil followed? The daughter of Appalachian snake handlers becomes a ward of the state after her eerie “gift” causes a tragedy that leaves her orphaned.
* * *
My name is Melody Fisher. My daddy was a snake handler in Appalachia until Mama died. Though years have passed, I can still hear the rattle before the strike that took her from me.
And it’s all my fault.
Since then, I’ve been passed around from foster home to foster home. I didn’t think anything could be as bad as losing Mama.
I was wrong.
But I will not speak of things people have done to me. Every time I do, worse evil follows. Now, the only thing I trust is what saved me years ago.
Back when I would sing the snakes calm …
I always felt my characters come to me with their stories to tell, and I am the mere journalist whose job is to breathe life into them on the page. That could not be any truer than in the case of Speak No Evil. This was Melody’s story from the outset, and my responsibility was to document it in the most compelling way and share it with the world.
I have always believed it important to write stories such as this. Women are more empowered to speak up today than ever before, but far too many remain silent—for good reason. Speaking up about abuse is not always met with support. Too often victims are met with ridicule and judgement, blame and shame.
I, along with many women, have personal experience with this. I chose to go to the police, though felt nothing would be done. I spoke up so the next victim might be believed. I spoke out because he took liberties with my body that he had no right to. I wasn’t about to let him take one ounce of my self-worth. I did not ask for it, it was not my fault, and no one would say otherwise.
Not everyone has a Miss Prescott and Dr. Kane … I was fortunate to have a strong support network. For those who don’t, for those who remain silent, it is not your fault. You are not to blame. My greatest wish is that one day you will find your voice and, with it, peace.