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2020 Pushcart Prize Nominee, “An Old Man in a Quiet Room”

31st Annual Lammy Nominee, Bisexual Fiction

The Banshee of Machrae

 by Sonja Condit

One winter night, young Kalen Machrae drives off a haunted bridge. Rescued and revived, he’s trapped between life and death. As Kalen deteriorates, Jessa, his obsessed little sister, starts setting fires, each one more ferocious and nearer to the home where her older brother lays suffering. Emmy Fane, Kalen’s girlfriend, can’t allow Jessa to kill Kalen, but she can’t bear for a declining Kalen to endlessly anguish. Struggling with her choices, Emma encounters Lilly, the Machrae family banshee and phantom spirit of the bridge. Lilly shows her myriad possibilities for each option, and how each incarnation unfolds.

Sonja Condit leads us into a deep and powerful exploration of the haunted Machrae family. In prose as strong and searing as the elemental force of the fires that burn through the novel, we see complexities illuminated that are too dark to turn away from. Condit is an absolutely fearless writer.

—Marlin Barton, Capote Award Winner, author of Pasture Art

Wickedly smart and wildly inventive. Condit is a one-of-a-kind writer. I loved The Banshee of Machrae.

Karin Gillespie, author of Love Literary Style

About the Author

Sonja Condit wrote her first novel, a twenty-page bildungsroman about the life of a trapdoor spider, at the age of seven. Her second novel, about a mummified cat who escaped from a museum at night and went out to have adventures with real cats, was just the beginning of her passion for telling stories that come from inside the hearts of her characters—to Sonja, plot is just an excuse to find out why people do what they do. The Banshee of Machrae was inspired by a news story about a couple of young people who went on an arson spree for love. Sonja is a musician and teacher in Greenville, SC, where she lives with her husband, two children, four cats, and a greyhound.

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