Christi Nogle’s debut novel Beulah (Cemetery Gates Media, 2022) has won the 2022 Bram Stoker Award for First Novel and is a nominee for the 2022 Shirley Jackson Award. A very big congratulations to Christi! Christi’s short fiction also appeared in our experimental anthology, Stranged Writing: A Literary Taxonomy.
Beulah is the story of Georgie, an eighteen-year-old with a talent (or affliction) for seeing ghosts. Georgie and her family have had a hard time since her father died, but she and her mother Gina and sisters Tommy and Stevie are making a new start in the small town of Beulah, Idaho where Gina’s wealthy friend Ellen has set them up to help renovate an old stone schoolhouse. Georgie experiences a variety of disturbances—the town is familiar from dreams and she seems to be experiencing her mother’s memory of the place, not to mention the creepy ghost in the schoolhouse basement—but she is able to maintain, in her own laconic way, until she notices that her little sister Stevie also has the gift. Stevie is in danger from a malevolent ghost, and Georgie tries to help, but soon Georgie is the one in danger.
“Nogle, like all writers with a rare knack coupled with incredible skill and imagination, makes everything she writes look easy and effortlessly ingenious. Even the Table of Contents of her latest novel, Beulah, reflects that sense of effortless ingenuity (The beginning chapter is called “When you talk to the dead”, followed by 12 month named titles, followed by the last chapter, “When you walk with the dead”). I’ve been lucky enough to publish Nogle’s short stories twice now, and I hope to publish her work many more times in the future. My initial reaction to reading this debut novel is simply this: how in the hell could this be anyone’s first novel? It’s so assured, so masterful, so in control at every level. This is not the typical mess of even the most talented writer’s first attempt at that tricky long form. This is the work of a top tier author in top form. Anyone writing a book blurb is tempted to summarize the plot and shower the book (and writer) with hyperbolic praise. I won’t do the former, and I promise you I’m not doing the latter. Nogle has all the goods, a singularly weird imagination, a tremendous sense of pacing and voice, and a mastery of clarity and control on the sentence level. Beulah will easily prove to be one of the best horror novels (never mind debut novels) of 2022. Read it. “
—Jon Padgett, author of The Secret of Ventriloquism