EXCERPT: Veronica G. Henry’s debut novel, Bacchanal

The Coachella Review is honored to present an excerpt from Veronica G. Henry’s debut novel, Bacchanal. This novel is a fantasy and historical fiction set in the Depression-era South. Centered on Eliza Meeks, a young Black woman with the power to communicate with animals, the novel takes the reader on a journey of self-discovery and acceptance as Eliza joins a traveling carnival with a sinister secret. Unbeknownst to Eliza, she is being searched for by an evil spirit, Ahiku, whose goal is to destroy Eliza before she can come into her true power. With a cast of diverse characters, Henry frames…

Interview: A Conversation with Viet Thanh Nguyen

By Ioannis Argiris I had the privilege of connecting with Pulitzer Prize winner and best-selling author Viet Thanh Nguyen to discuss his new literary spy thriller The Committed. In this sequel to The Sympathizer, the unnamed narrator travels to Paris, where he lives with his new handler—his aunt. Once a dedicated communist spy in America, the narrator is introduced to a new world of politicians and the French socialist elite. He integrates into a local mob, selling hashish and getting caught up in the Parisian underbelly’s free market. The narrator continues to struggle with identity as he endures tests from his…

Voices

By Tisha Marie Reichle-Aguilera Driving east on Interstate 10, I crank up the a/c. The sun peeks up over distant mountains, blinds me despite my designer sunglasses. Damn! It has been years since I trekked across this desert. Swore the last time I’d never do it again.  I don’t remember much about last time. Just knew when I left, there was a lot worth forgetting. Squeezed my eyes tight and wrung out all the water. Haven’t shed a tear since. Haven’t drank a drop neither. Almost ten years sober. And now I gotta cross this barren desert with no one…

Shadows Over My Window

Falling asleep in a room I don’t belong in—in a bed that’s not my own. All the melatonin in the world can’t help me slip into my dreams and away from watching the shadows of tree branches stretch across the room.

Already Dead Things

by Stacy Bierlein Outdoor education was a thing the parents liked. Kids should know how things grow, they said. Children want to take care of things, we agreed, to be individually responsible. If the cabbage actually survived we took it to a local food bank. This time, though, the rabbits got in. Was something wrong with the soil? a little girl wanted to know. No, I said, the rabbits were hungry. I didn’t explain that they probably came down from the cemetery at the top of the hill, displaced by a digging of graves. In our perfectly constructed greenhouse everything…

Book Review: The Girl Beneath the Sea

“Imagine you are swimming in the ocean. Something brushes against your leg while you are treading water. It is most likely a piece of seaweed, but your heart stops because you know it’s a shark and suddenly the shore seems impossibly far away.”

Book Review: Don’t Read the Comments

Don’t Read the Comments is Eric Smith’s fifth young adult novel. Smith heavily integrates popular culture into his fiction, and this novel is no exception. The protagonist, Divya Sharma, is an eighteen-year old celebrity gamer known as “D1V” who supports herself and her mother through corporate sponsorships,

Aperture

By Christina Rauh Fishburne Look at her go. See the ghost of sinew in those triceps and biceps as the creamy brown silk slides up to her shoulder in retreat. This gown was always her favorite. The one destined only for significant cocktail parties and evenings of general greatness. Observe her form. The strain of her graceful neck, the fluid rise of her arms like a worshipper of the sun, and the determined fan of her fingers spreading to embrace. The line of her shoulders as she rears back in Olympic elegance bent on a clean kill. Note the placement…

Mouth Bucket

By Vanessa Mancos At night, we must remove our mouths. We leave them in the mouth bucket on the front porch until dawn. The new law that dictates this was put into affect effect after the demonstrations. The demonstrations: ecstatic airing of our grievances, many small globs into one big one. They did not care for that. When the mouth buckets arrived to our homes, we had to practice taking our mouths off a few times before we really understood how. It’s tricky, you know. A mouth doesn’t just jump off your face because you ask it to. You have…

Clarinets and Milkyways

By Gay Degani Sally was in Mrs. Lee’s fourth grade class at Marshall Elementary, the third school she’d attended in four years. Her father, a restless, impatient man, insisted she was old enough to walk the five-and-a-half blocks from their rented house to school: “What are you, chicken?” This was long before parents got arrested for letting their kids wander the neighborhood without adult supervision. The only thing Sally worried about was the goose two doors down. When anyone happened by, the bird charged the picket fence, honking furiously, bobbing its head in and out, in and out. Sally pretended…