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Althea Bell is still heartbroken by her mother’s tragic, premature death―and tormented by the last, frantic words she whispered into young Althea’s ear: Wait for her. For the honeysuckle girl. She’ll find you, I think, but if she doesn’t, you find her.

Adrift ever since, Althea is now fresh out of rehab and returning to her family home in Mobile, Alabama, determined to reconnect with her estranged, ailing father. While Althea doesn’t expect him, or her politically ambitious brother, to welcome her with open arms, she’s not prepared for the chilling revelation of a grim, long-buried family secret. Fragile and desperate, Althea escapes with an old flame to uncover the truth about her lineage. Drawn deeper into her ancestors’ lives, Althea begins to unearth their disturbing history…and the part she’s meant to play in it.

Gripping and visceral, this unforgettable debut delves straight into the heart of dark family secrets and into one woman’s emotional journey to save herself from a sinister inheritance.

Review

“This novel doesn’t stop running, and neither would you if you were Althea Bell. She’s just learned that for three generations the women in her family have vanished or died on their thirtieth birthday―and hers is fast approaching. To survive, she must race to solve a century-old mystery. Emily Carpenter has written a hell of a thriller with language as lush as its Southern setting.” ―Benjamin Percy, author of The Dead Lands, Red Moon, The Wilding, and Refresh, Refresh

“Southern Gothic in all its creepy inbred finery. I found myself rooting for recovering addict Althea as she teeters on the brink of relapse while uncovering the horrific secret behind her family’s inherited madness and premature death.” ―Amy Plum, international bestselling author

“Emily Carpenter weaves a masterful web of Southern gothic family drama and spine-tingling mystery. A must read.” ―M.J. Pullen, author of The Marriage Pact and Regrets Only

About the Author

Emily Carpenter, a former actor, producer, screenwriter, and behind-the-scenes soap opera assistant, graduated with a bachelor of arts degree from Auburn University. Born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama, she now lives in Georgia with her family. Burying the Honeysuckle Girls is her first novel. Visit Emily online at www.emilycarpenterauthor.com.

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4.3 out of 54.3 out of 5
2,840 global ratings

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Top reviews from the United States

Loves to Read
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Good Story
Reviewed in the United States on May 26, 2016
The story kept me turning the pages and I enjoyed the 2 stories present and past. However, there are 5 generations of women and their husbands/kids/siblings/aunts and uncles to keep track of, and it did become somewhat confusing. I suggest creating a family tree type of... See more
The story kept me turning the pages and I enjoyed the 2 stories present and past. However, there are 5 generations of women and their husbands/kids/siblings/aunts and uncles to keep track of, and it did become somewhat confusing. I suggest creating a family tree type of outline for all the characters so that it will be easier to know who is who in what time period.
188 people found this helpful
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cbell
2.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Stilted Suspense
Reviewed in the United States on August 13, 2016
This novel started out so well. I actually stayed up late to read the last quarter of it, that''s how much I got into it. I rarely read suspense, but the potential for magical realism drew me in. Unfortunately, that premise is also where the book went horribly wrong. Without... See more
This novel started out so well. I actually stayed up late to read the last quarter of it, that''s how much I got into it. I rarely read suspense, but the potential for magical realism drew me in. Unfortunately, that premise is also where the book went horribly wrong. Without giving too much away, the novel does a kind of reverse jump-the-shark at the end, as in that all of the magical and mysterious elements eluded to throughout, just merely crumble away into an even more bizarre, too-plain reality that is not only disappointing, but stupid. If you don''t like books that tie themselves up too neatly (and too conveniently) at the end, don''t read this.

A good suspense novel will have an ending that makes it feel like the author wrote backwards from the end, meaning they knew the conclusion and all of the clues they were going to disperse along the way. In this one, the author clearly had plans for a big finish, an ending that was a mystery even to her, and then tied herself in a knot trying to wrap up all the loose ends.

That being said, there were good elements to the piece. The suspense was well-maintained throughout the first portion of the book, and the parallels between the present and flashback sections were well-paced. The parts about Jinn, especially, were enjoyable to read (until their conclusion, of course). Another main issue with the writing, however, also is most apparent in Jinn''s sections. The whole book, in retrospect, reads like a manifesto against men. The premise for the villainy in the book seems to just be that all men are backstabbing, misogynistic, and abusive. There is only one half-decent man in the book and even he makes some pretty infuriating mistakes. The women, on the other hand, alternate between valiant and incompetent. Although the relationship between a female abuse victim and her abuser can often be extremely complicated, the way that some of the women behave feels illogical, though this seems to be more because of bad dialogue and description than poor character development. For example, one female character faces off against a former abuser in a confined space, and awkwardly flip-flops between casual small talk and accusations, as if she has completely forgotten that he is bigger than her and, as shown by past experience, perfectly capable of manhandling and manipulating her; everything about the scene just felt stilted, and so did many more similar scenes to follow.
98 people found this helpful
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snowedin
3.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Weak ending to the story
Reviewed in the United States on July 31, 2016
It''s a shame because I found it enjoyable to read but ended up not liking the story and plot ending. It is hard to believe the intricate cover up going on at the end and I feel the author didn''t really know how to finish the story. Plus, I think I must have missed... See more
It''s a shame because I found it enjoyable to read but ended up not liking the story and plot ending. It is hard to believe the intricate cover up going on at the end and I feel the author didn''t really know how to finish the story. Plus, I think I must have missed something because throughout the book, there are references to magical visions or schizophrenia and I don''t remember that being dealt with at all. She spoke about seeing the same visions for 25 years (gold dust...) and that must mean something but by the end of the book, I don''t know why she was seeing things. Even more telling is that I really don''t care enough to go back to it.
58 people found this helpful
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Yarngirl52
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Family secrets family lies
Reviewed in the United States on December 22, 2018
Family secrets have a way of enlarging themselves beyond the original purpose. The cover-up was worse than the secret alone. The same is true for Althea Bell and her politically ambitious brother Wynn and his power hungry wife, Molly Robb. He was perfectly happy... See more
Family secrets have a way of enlarging themselves beyond the original purpose. The cover-up was worse than the secret alone.

The same is true for Althea Bell and her politically ambitious brother Wynn and his power hungry wife, Molly Robb. He was perfectly happy to have his younger sister as a suicidal drug addict. But when Althea became sober and started looking for answers to circumstances surrounding her mother''s and grandmother''s deaths, he was determined to stop her.

I spent many late nights reading this book. Congratulations to Emily Carpenter on her first novel.
14 people found this helpful
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Suzanne Dobyns
3.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
I wanted More
Reviewed in the United States on November 5, 2016
Who were the honeysuckle girls? This story was headed somewhere special and then got sidetracked somehow. Doesn''t go deep enough,too many twists and turns that don''t make a lick of sense.
21 people found this helpful
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Sheila M. Good
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Uncovering Terrifying Secrets
Reviewed in the United States on October 12, 2016
Description: This is the first novel of former actor, producer, and screenwriter, Emily Carpenter. Plot: Althea Bell is a recovering addict, estranged from her family, and haunted by her mother’s death and the last words she uttered to Althea, she returns home... See more
Description: This is the first novel of former actor, producer, and screenwriter, Emily Carpenter.

Plot: Althea Bell is a recovering addict, estranged from her family, and haunted by her mother’s death and the last words she uttered to Althea, she returns home after rehab only to discover her father is dying and she is not welcome.

Left with nothing but her mother’s terrifying words, a cigar box of memories, Althea sets out to uncover the truth - bizarre incidences of mental illness killing the women of her family on their thirtieth birthday. Time is running out – in two days, Althea will turn thirty.

Characterization: The characters were well developed, and you have an immediate connection to Althea, her isolation, and fear. The POV switches between 1st and 3rd person based on the timeline of present and pasted.

Setting: Mobile & Sybil Valley, Alabama.

Style & Voice: I enjoyed the voice and found the plot intriguing. They style, I found a bit confusing. Covering five generations, I found it difficult to keep up with who was who and often had to go backward in search of clarity.

Overall: An intriguing and exciting story.
Burying the Honeysuckle Girls
14 people found this helpful
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Virginia King
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Highly Unusual Page-turner
Reviewed in the United States on October 23, 2019
This highly unusual page-turner is told through the eyes of unreliable narrator Althea Bell, her first-person narrative interwoven with the historical third-person thread of her great-grandmother Ginny’s story. As we follow Althea on her personal journey to uncover why... See more
This highly unusual page-turner is told through the eyes of unreliable narrator Althea Bell, her first-person narrative interwoven with the historical third-person thread of her great-grandmother Ginny’s story. As we follow Althea on her personal journey to uncover why every woman in her ancestral line died on her thirtieth birthday, the story swings between coming of age, mystery and thriller. The tangled plot also draws cleverly on elements of the South’s social history.

On page one, the reader discovers that Althea is not only approaching her thirtieth birthday in two weeks, but she’s a recovering drug addict straight out of rehab – and not immediately likeable. As we follow her incoherent self-talk, we see that her mind is obsessed with strange images and messages from her childhood. Does she have psychic gifts? Or is she going crazy as her family believes?

She’s immediately greeted at her childhood home by her demented and angry father and her politically ambitious brother who threatens to put her into a psychiatric facility as she nears her thirtieth. Not believing that they want to protect her, Althea escapes with an old friend. Together they embark on a wild investigation into the truth about the family curse before she succumbs.

Some readers will find Althea unlikeable and unrelateable, but Carpenter does a great job of revealing her underlying vulnerability. Weird stuff happened to her as a child and it’s still tying her in psychological knots – knots that we’re experiencing first hand. With her drug habit she’s been at death’s brink more than once, but something about the curse gradually stops her thinking about pills and focusses her intention and determination on living. Some of the early scenes show her inner strength and ruthless creativity in the face of the looming deadline. At times the reader may be both fascinated and appalled by her language and her actions!

As the tension builds towards the truth, the book becomes a page-turner. I was particularly caught up in the historical thread that introduces Althea’s grandmother Collie as a child and races towards the death of the first ‘honeysuckle girl’, great-grandmother Ginny. These were the days when women were the chattels of their fathers and husbands, and wandering preachers controlled rural communities with sermons of fire and brimstone. The detail in this thread is superb as we discover the quirky power of Ginny in the face of this control. As the reader prepares to discover the awful truth about Ginny’s death, Althea is careering towards it herself. I see that some reviewers found these revelations unsatisfying, but I found them both surprising and utterly believable as the event that heralded the curse. This is great writing, compelling and spare. Nothing predicable here.

Regarding the genres, although Burying the Honeysuckle Girls is categorised in “Ghost Suspense” and “Occult”, readers of these genres may be disappointed with the demons in Althea’s own mind. It’s also described as Southern Gothic. As an Australian author of women’s fiction I''m still working out what this means, but it didn’t hamper my enjoyment of this complex and unusual coming-of-age thriller.
One person found this helpful
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Sandra
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Great Southern Mystery
Reviewed in the United States on March 9, 2017
As a lifelong Alabamian, I loved the way Ms. Carpenter used our State and it''s history to tell this story. After Althea was released from rehab, she was determined to find out why the women in her family either died or disappeard when they turned 30. As she turned up... See more
As a lifelong Alabamian, I loved the way Ms. Carpenter used our State and it''s history to tell this story. After Althea was released from rehab, she was determined to find out why the women in her family either died or disappeard when they turned 30. As she turned up information on her mother, grandmother, and great-grandmoher, she began to understand the hidden shameful history of the men in her family. Pritchard Hospital was a key factor in the family''s history. Pritchard was a pseudonym for our State''s actual mental hospital in Tuscaloosa. Growing up, everyone associated mental illness with being sent to .... Since the author didn''t say the name, I won''t either. The KKK, Civil Rights Movement, the commonly believed reputations of mountain people, and "yellow dog Democrats" of the old South., were all used to tell Althea''s story. Best of all, even using stereotypes, each character was intelligent and beieveable. This was one of those books that is hard to put down till the end.
10 people found this helpful
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Top reviews from other countries

June field
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A first novel! Wow!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 13, 2017
This is such a amazing book,, so very well written and a real page turner! Couldn''t wait to find out how it would all end but now feel sad that I''ve come to the end. Story lovers will know what I mean. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a book that contains depth...See more
This is such a amazing book,, so very well written and a real page turner! Couldn''t wait to find out how it would all end but now feel sad that I''ve come to the end. Story lovers will know what I mean. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a book that contains depth and mystery and a story that leaves an imprint on your heart. I hope we will hear more stories from Emily Carpenter as this is a wonderful first book and can''t wait to read more that, like this one, contains a little bit of magic.
3 people found this helpful
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SUZYQ
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Mystifying
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on September 7, 2019
A saga about a strange and dysfunctional family over a period of around eighty years with all of the women dying on their 30th birthday. Althea only has a few days to try and discover the reason the women died before her birthday. Is she mad as well. Her brother Thinks so...See more
A saga about a strange and dysfunctional family over a period of around eighty years with all of the women dying on their 30th birthday. Althea only has a few days to try and discover the reason the women died before her birthday. Is she mad as well. Her brother Thinks so and although he knows family secrets he is determined that Althea never discover the secrets to the extent of resorting to murder. A very different story, steeped in folklore.
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Peggy G
2.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Rambling and pointless
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on November 21, 2020
Story involving four generations of women abused and murdered by males in their families, each story confused and unclear, mental illness, drug abuse, religion and aspects of the supernatural involved. Does someone really find out they are pregnant two weeks after the act?...See more
Story involving four generations of women abused and murdered by males in their families, each story confused and unclear, mental illness, drug abuse, religion and aspects of the supernatural involved. Does someone really find out they are pregnant two weeks after the act? I finished it hoping it might improve and make some sense. It didn’t.
One person found this helpful
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Foxy Lady
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Brilliant gripping read.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on March 8, 2019
I sat and read this book in one sitting. Driven on to know what was going to happen next. I was completely lost in the very believable characters. Great story. You need to read it for yourself. I don''t think you will be disappointed if you love a good mystery. Could not...See more
I sat and read this book in one sitting. Driven on to know what was going to happen next. I was completely lost in the very believable characters. Great story. You need to read it for yourself. I don''t think you will be disappointed if you love a good mystery. Could not give any less than 5 stars
One person found this helpful
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Theresa Elliott
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Absorbing
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on December 22, 2018
Sometimes hard for me to hold the different family members in mind, but a superb read none the less. Having been in a Victorian built asylum with my late father (Schizophrenic) i found the story sadly believable and thrilling.
One person found this helpful
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