From the Publisher
Praise for Saints in Limbo
“River Jordan’s Saints in Limbo is a compelling story of the mysteries of existence and, especially, the mysteries of the human heart.”
–RON RASH, author of Serena and Chemistry and Other Stories
“River Jordan’s artful writing style is utterly captivating. Add to that the heartfelt, intriguing story line of Saints in Limbo, and you’re hooked.”
–T. LYNN OCEAN, author of Sweet Home Carolina and the Jersey Barnes Mysteries
“In the quiet of light and shadow, on what portends to be an ordinary day, miracles and magic envelop Velma True, a widow, a mother, and a lonely woman who does not suffer fools. Readers will care deeply about Velma’s life: her past, her present, her future, and her good heart. Saints in Limbo brims with truth and insists on hope. River Jordan has written a lyrical and relentlessly beautiful book.”
–CONNIE MAY FOWLER, author of Before Women Had Wings and The Problem with Murmur Lee
“Saints in Limbo is a lyrical and transcendent novel that will linger with me for years to come. I was entranced from start to finish.”
–KARIN GILLESPIE, author of the Bottom Dollar Girls series
“Strange as it sounds, River Jordan’s fascinating novel Saints in Limbo somehow reminded me of Walker Percy and Dean Koontz simultaneously. It’s that original. It’s that good. It’s a wise, funny, joyful, and deadly serious book. Saints in Limbo is the kind of story they ought to publish in leather-bound hardcover with gilded pages so you could leave it to your grandchildren.”
–ATHOL DICKSON, author of River Rising and Winter Haven
“Saints in Limbo is an elixir that combines two doses southern literary tradition and one dose magic realism. Jordan evokes elements of mystery and evil, wisdom and family, to make your heart surge and your skin tingle.”
–KIM PONDERS, author of The Last Blue Mile
“River Jordan’s words flat-out sing. Some pages of Saints in Limbo will soothe you with lullabies, others will reach inside you for the blues, but they’ll all pull you inside and slow your multitasking self down. Her stories court you to pace yourself and give them their due. It’s hard to close this novel without wondering why River Jordan isn’t a household name.”
–SHELLIE RUSHING TOMLINSON, author of Suck Your Stomach In and Put Some Color On:What Southern Mamas Tell Their Daughters That the Rest of Y’all Should Know Too and creator and host of All Things Southern
“Mystical and magically written, Saints in Limbo is a beautiful novel. With its vivid characters and lush language, readers will find themselves thinking of Augusta Trobaugh’s Resting in the Bosom of the Lamb.”
–MICHAEL MORRIS, author of A Place Called Wiregrass
“River Jordan writes about love’s triumph over fear, reconciliation, and dissolving ancient hurts in words as lyrical as a poem. Her characters wriggle into your heart frompage one and will stay there long after you’ve regretfully finished the last page. Saints in Limbo is not only a tribute to the power of place and community but a rollicking good read as well.”
–CHARLOTTE RAINS DIXON, director of The Writing Loft, Middle Tennessee State University
“River Jordan’s written words are as poetic and captivating as her name, and her story, Saints in Limbo, is as powerful and healing as the River Jordan itself.”
–DENISE HILDRETH, author of The Will of Wisteria
“River Jordan practically sings her characters to life. Saints in Limbo is a triumph of the spirit and a reminder that there’smuchmore to life than meets the eye. Read this book to remind yourself that heaven can be found right here, right now.”
–NICOLE SEITZ, author of A Hundred Years of Happiness, Trouble theWater, and The Spirit of Sweetgrass
“Saints in Limbo reminds me of the adage ‘Life is not about the destination but the journey.’ In this case it’s not about the ending of the book but the telling of the story! The journey in River Jordan’s latest book is to savor every word, every sentence, and every paragraph.”
–KATHY L. PATRICK, founder of the Pulpwood Queens Book Clubs and author of The Pulpwood Queens’ Tiara-Wearing, Book-Sharing Guide to Life
"River Jordan’s third novel is a Southern Gothic masterpiece." – Tina Fondren, Paste Magazine
Not much happens in the small town of Echo, Fla., especially to the spunky yet agoraphobic widow, Velma True. But when a mysterious storyteller steps out of the wind and up to her front door, his ordinary-looking birthday gift sends Velma on a breakneck journey over the landscape of her memory, even though she can't even cross her yard to the mailbox. The gift has its consequences and forces Velma to relive both her happiest and darkest moments, trapping her between "what she has and what she wants." Even more troubling, something evil wants the gift for itself and threatens to take away Velma's home, family and dearest friends. In a wild mix of thriller, mystery, romance and drama, Jordan (The Gin Girl) unravels a complicated plot that sometimes knots up and often leaves loose ends unexplained. Too many side plots and mysteries tumble together and become confused. Despite these vagaries, Velma True's mystical adventure will speak to an audience interested in a thrilling, often touching gothic tale about conquering fear and regret with a stubborn, Southern love. (May)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
An inspirational message drives this story about an elderly widow, a magic rock and some transformed lives. Since the death of her beloved husband Joe, Velma True's hold on life has become precarious. She won't even venture to her mailbox since finding his death certificate there. So the visit of a mysterious stranger to her little house outside Echo, a small town in the Florida panhandle, comes just in time. The nameless ancient who can "brush his fingers through the stars" gives her a small rock that changes colors, emits heat and light and offers a limited form of time travel. Briefly, Velma is back with Joe in the first year of their marriage, thinking: "This moment is forever and always." Though the rock is benevolent, possession is not risk-free. There are bad actors out there, fallen angels who will try to steal it. Jordan's previous novel, The Messenger of Magnolia Street (2006), featured the same good vs. evil conflict, but this follow-up is neither as well-written nor as persuasive. Velma must confront her irrational guilt over the four miscarriages following the difficult birth of her only son, Rudy, who has his own problems to work through. He's a bed-hopping ladies' man, movie-star handsome, unambitious, singing cheerfully as he delivers the mail on his rural route. He has yet to fulfill his potential and give Velma more than a careless love. Jordan packages a folksy small-town world of timeless rhythms, then adds a guitar-toting teenage runaway on a mission that will take her to Velma's house and two lonely retirees who take off for Africa. Lurking in the shadows are evil, shapeless things, more laughable than fearsome, the weakest link in Jordan's chain. Not to worry: Velmaand Rudy will get the message ("No regrets") and become new people, at peace with themselves. Overly sentimental fare that will probably find some readers to cherish it as a spiritual balm. Agent: Greg Daniel/Daniel Literary Group
Read an Excerpt
It was the kind of day when even the lost believed. When possibilities were larger than reason, when potential was grander than circumstance, when the long, dark days of doubt were suddenly cast off and laid to rest. Brushed away with a smile and a certainty. And in this moment, from this place, you knew the real magic could happen.
It was exactly this kind of day at the edge of a town in a southern place called Echo, Florida. Lying safely on the state’s northern border, Echo was first brethren more to its Alabama cousin than to the Gulf Coast. The land rolled by in rural peace and contentment, not given over to the moods of saltwater tides and open horizons but to the soft singing of wind in the pines, of roosters calling in the early morning light, of small cornfields and freshwater fishing holes.
The firstborn leaves of March had sprouted into the tiniest sea of baby green. The world was breathing in and out, moving everything in its path slightly, and on due course, with a gentle, four-edges-of-the-earth kiss. The birds had filled the trees, rumbling from their winter’s sleep, and here they were now, glorious and in full song. Squirrels scampered, quick and unseen, beneath banks of dried loblolly pine needles, then ran up the trees so fast they left nothing but a trail of falling bark.
Down at the edge of the powdery dirt road was Mullet Creek, running quietly, steadily throwing off stars of light from its surface. You could hear the airborne fish breaking the bonds of water, then falling with a plop back into the chilly green of the creek.
Within all the living things—the dirt, the water, the cloudless sky, the pine trees long and whispering—was the expectation of something coming. Something full of light and wonder.
When the expectation had stretched as far as it could, had built a crescendo into a feverish pitch, a peculiar wind appeared. Only a tiny thing at first, but even then something special, something delicious and unique. A whirl began to take shape, collecting dirt from the dry bed of the middle of the road and spreading it upward into a spiraling funnel of substance. For a moment it appeared to be an errant breeze that caught the dirt and gave it a twirl, a bit of a dance, before it would settle itself to the nothing it once was. But the dance didn’t settle. Instead, it climbed higher and higher, pulling a streamof sandy soil, twisting it to and fro, as if something was shaping it with a manner of something in mind.
At first, there was only the wind, the dust, the dirt, but then, shifting in and out of visible, were two well-worn and traveled boots.
The dirt traveled higher, faster, revealing two trousered legs and then a waist, a chest, two arms with hands, until finally a head and on that head, a hat well lived in.The image presented a man who had been around, a traveler or a storyteller.
For a time the man and the whirlwind were one and the same. Man and whirlwind. Whirlwind and man. But after a long moment, but still only a moment, the man stepped straight out of that wind, and without the least bit of tussle he planted his boots on solid ground. And in this exact manner, on this kind of a day, the man was born feetfirst onto the earth.
He adjusted himself, pulling the clothes about his body, arranging the pants, the shirt, the jacket just so.He was a million miles roamed and completely at home. King to the subjects who might demand, but simple statesman to the orphan clan.
He removed the hat and ran one hand through his thick white hair and surveyed the territory before him. Then, after careful and appropriate consideration, he replaced the hat and pulled a watch from the left pocket of his pants. He opened the cover and music began to play. Music so sweet, so hypnotic, so full, it exuded a scent with each note and left it hanging there in the air. “Right on time,” he declared aloud and then launched himself forward in a southern direction on the road that had given him life.
He traveled only a rock’s throw toward the creek, and there just before the edge of the trees thatmade up a plot considered the woods, he paused and contemplated a house. Just a small white house of little consequence. A small shelter from the storms of life. There was an old mailbox by the road on which a yellow vine crawled and encircled its wooden post. Green bushes bloomed with early white gardenias on both sides of a little porch where there was a swing. In the swing sat a small hen of a woman.
The man drew closer, almost but not quite visible, as he watched her from the north side of the pine tree woods.
The woman stood slowly and went to the porch railing, leaned out as far as she could, and peered down the road. Suddenly she stepped back two steps and wrapped her arms about herself. She pursed her lips, pulled them up to one side, listening to that spring breeze singing through the pine needles and thinking.
Then she spoke to her husband, dead now a year. It was an odd, comforting habit she’d taken up. It kept her lonely voice from rusting.
“Did you feel that? That shift in the air? Well, what can I tell you, Joe? It changed. It was one way, then it was another.”
She paused, looked out toward the tree line. “And somebody’s out there standing just beyond the trees.” She called out, “Who goes there?” and waited amoment for a reply.There was no answer, but that didn’t move her. She was certain that she was right.That someone was watching, waiting just beyond her line of sight.