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NPR's Best Books of 2020

The Times (UK) Best Books of 2020

Atlanta Journal-Constitution Top 10 Southern Books of 2020

Deep South Mag's Best Reads of Spring

Garden & Gun Right Now Reads for Spring 

“Unsettling, heartbreaking, and frequently astonishing, this Southern gothic never runs out of revelations. . . A gleaming, dark masterpiece by one of Southern fiction’s leading voices.” 

Kirkus Reviews (starred)


“Call it Southern Noir or Southern Gothic or the legacy of Larry Brown but the reality is Michael Farris Smith is writing with one of the most powerful and distinctive voices in current fiction.” 

Square Books


Blackwood burrows deep into the dark heart of the Gothic South to unearth terrifying beauty alongside startling desperation. Smith’s prose is both raw and poetic, like opera sung at a honky-tonk.” 

Los Angeles Review of Books


“Smith has been described as one of the leading voices in Southern fiction, but that’s inaccurate; he’s one of the leading voices in contemporary literature.” 

Mystery Tribune


“In Blackwood, there’s a hint of the supernatural in the mix, something ancient and angry fighting to be heard from deep within the kudzu hills; something dangerous looking for someone dangerous to latch on to. Smith is able to bring this element into the mix in just the right amount . . . It’s a delicate juggling act, but Smith pulls it off handily, resulting in a novel that I fully expect to populate plenty of Top Ten lists at the end of the year.” 

Cemetery Dance


Blackwood is startling, brutal and eerie. . . and places Michael Farris Smith firmly among the masters of Southern Gothic literature.” 

Bookpage (starred review)


“You will not just want to read Blackwood. You will want to keep it and hold it close, to revisit it again and again. For all of its woebegone passages and subtle plot misdirection, Smith writes with a dark and frightening beauty that is so addictive once beheld that nothing less will do. . . A master is in our midst.” 



“Lurking over Blackwood is a family of itinerant grifters—a version of Faulkner’s Snopes clan, forces of chaos, human kudzu except for the youngest of them, a mysterious boy in whom Colburn sees his young self. As in the best noir, A soul-strangling inevitability hangs over Red Bluff, yet somehow Smith gives his doomed characters a dignity in the face of forces well beyond their control.” 

Booklist (starred review)


“The stakes in Blackwood are profound. Smith asks if salvation if possible for these characters or if they are doomed to hellfire. . .What Smith accomplishes in this novel is rare in contemporary fiction: a meditation on darkness that honestly accounts for the universality of suffering without surrendering to nihilism.” 

Chapter 16


“A stunning Southern gothic thriller, laced with kudzu and soaked in dread.” 

Southern Review of Books


Blackwood feels like tumbling into a mirage. Smith’s writing levels up with each book he writes.” 

Parnassus Books, Nashville TN


“Michael Farris Smith uses the rampant growth of kudzu as a metaphor for the generational secrets and sins that in 1976 are suffocating the Mississippi hill of Red Bluff…the stage is set for a Southern Gothic tale that is filled with pain and passion and something darker…” 

The New York Times Book Review


Blackwood creeps up to the precipice of horror genre territory. But Smith has bigger ideas on his mind. It’s not redemption exactly, but a reckoning. . .One thing is certain, though. After reading this book, one may be hard-pressed to look at a ravine covered in kudzu and not think about what dark secrets lurk there.” 

Atlanta Journal Constitution


“Michael Farris Smith isn’t frightened to go dark — and go dark early... Blackwood demands your attention.” 

The Times (UK)


Blackwood moved over me like a locomotive. Every page weighs an emotional ton, yet Smith’s prose is so tight that I just kept moving with it. Heartbreaking over and over again. His best yet.” 

Snowbound Books, Marquette MI


“Michael Farris Smith returns with a landscape of fear and ghosts—and a story about the wickedness that lurks in all of us.” 

Deep South Mag


“A quickly moving mystery steeped in Southern noir.” 

Associated Press


“Mr. Smith is a gifted writer whose lean, mean, prose underscores an extraordinary talent for creating atmospheric, vividly described scenes and characters….Blackwood is atmospheric and riveting…” 

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


“Michael Farris Smith has blown me away again with his powerful words and depiction of a small town in the South.” 

Page 158 Books, Wake Forest NC


“A disturbing, tense, breathtaking novel by the masterful storyteller, Michael Farris Smith.” 

The Country Bookshop, Southern Pines NC


“In Smith’s haunting, engrossing latest (after The Fighter), strangers awaken an evil force lurking. . . Smith’s meditation on the darkness of the human heart offers a moving update to the Southern gothic tradition.” 

Publishers Weekly


“Many a luminous author has called Oxford, Mississippi’s Michael Farris Smith one of the best writers of his generation. And he is. And Blackwood proves it.”

Claire Fullerton, author of Mourning Dove

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