Rainbow Black

Part murder mystery, part queer romance, and part examination of the three-ring circus of the court system during the Satanic Panic of the 1990s, Rainbow Black is Maggie Thrash's first novel for adults--and it doesn't disappoint. In 1990, 13-year-old Lacey Bond is living with her hippie parents at their day-care center in rural New Hampshire when the police arrest her parents and charge them with "more than thirty counts of child molestation and sexual abuse," many involving aspects of the occult. Lacey and her sister stand up against the allegations and bristle against a world that wants vengeance at any price. When an unspeakable murder occurs, Lacey goes to the edge of her humanity and, years later, discovers the cost of justice.

Darkness permeates Rainbow Black, and Lacey must do whatever it takes to break through the shadows that engulf her. Despite dealing with graphic and intense themes of violence, sexual assault, homophobia, and more, Thrash (Honor Girl) has an astounding ability to carve nuance and depth from her characters. Thrash's prose has a conversational style that keeps the pages flying. Readers will cheer for Lacey despite (or potentially because of) her faults, and her sarcasm prevents the tone from veering into total shadow. The novel's secondary characters provide brilliant insight into its more complex themes of loss and belonging, as when Lacey's mother says, "People should do whatever they can to get love. It's a consuming, horrible need." Those who consider themselves fans of Kevin Wilson or Donna Tartt should put Rainbow Black on their TBR lists. --Dominic Charles Howarth, book manager, Book + Bottle

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