cover copy, illuminator's words, links, video
“'Axe-grinding and message spoil what you make':
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Lists at Year's End
--poet Robbi Nester, The Hollins Critic, October 2020
The voice, the action, and the ethos of the novel are all from the perspective of not just Charis’s faith, but her view of the world, a difficult thing to capture. It is tricky. since no one at the time would write a first person account with so much dialogue, detail, or action. The idea is to get close to the mentality of The Pilgrim’s Progress, the symbolic world, but not the form or the language. Well, to some degree, the language. Youmans borrows period language, wonderful archaic words, many of which we should return to use. Nabbity, nattle, naughty-pack, nazzle, niffle-naffle, nightwalking, nittle. The novel ends with a twelve-page glossary that I found readable and pleasurable on its own. And I do not remember one time when I needed to turn to the glossary, since the vocabulary was always clear enough in context (e.g., ruttled up above). The glossary is a bonus.
--"The Enchanted Novels of Sigrid Undset and Marly Youmans" at Wuthering Expectations 15 June 2020
Charis means grace and this book is very much about the movement of grace in a fallen world of sin. I was surprised at how much the novel’s worldview was imbued with faith— you don’t often find that kind of faith— simple, unalloyed with skepticism and untainted with hypocrisy— in contemporary literary novels. What’s more, in addition to the expected faith that had the familiar “Puritan” strains of fascination with sin, the devil, witchcraft, and hellfire; Charis also has a faith that is more familiar to me: one that is infused with a deep awareness of grace and mercy of a loving God. Certainly Charis is aware of those in her community who emphasize sin and the presence of the devil, but her personal vision of God is as a God of wonders, a God of love and mercy. And much of the drama and beauty of the novel is watching her navigate between those different worldviews (the Satan-haunted and the grace-haunted) which are both present not only in Charis herself but also in her community.
--Melanie Bettinelli, an extended review at The Wine-Dark Sea 5 June 2020
What really makes this novel good is the interior life of the protagonist. She's an interesting character, and with a very rich, beautiful interior monologue... There is a sensitivity of language; the language is beautiful without being overwrought... It's lovely, it's captivating, it's beautiful.
--Melanie Bettinelli, Raising the Betts podcast #051 (begins 38:25 mark), StarQuest Media Network sqpn.com, 26 May 2020
--Greg Langley, Young heroine in 'Charis' will captivate readers, The Baton Rouge Advocate, 23 May 2020
Marly Youmans, who spent must of her girlhood in Cullowhee and much of her academic career in Chapel Hill, is a hard writer to pigeonhole.
A poet, she’s also written a shelf of novels, in a variety of genres: historical (Her 2001 book “The Wolf Pit,” won the Michael Shaara Award for Civil War fiction), supernatural fantasy (“Glimmerglass”) and Southern Gothic (“A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage”)...
Youmans has wound up writing a poem in prose, with subtle symbolism and delicious wordplay. Like a later New Englander, Emily Dickinson, she tells the truth but tells it slant.
--Ben Steelman, "In NC writer’s new novel, the woods are dark, deep and dangerous," The Wilmington StarNews, 16 May 2020
Ms. Youmans and [Ron] Hansen share a deep commitment to moral questions not just pondered and wondered, but acted on even at the moment of mortal peril. Charis in the World of Wonders is a novel which demands real choices of the characters, in which wonder is not just a glistening opiate, but a sublime, dangerous glimpse of reality that demands a moral response.
--Cat Hodge, Darwin Catholic blog, 15 May 2020
from writers and artists on social media
Makoto Fujimura, nihongan painter, cultural catalyst, writer: Ok. Cannot help to tweet. “Charis”, Marly’s next novel coming out, is one of the most beautifully wrought writings of the “burning bushes” all about us that I’ve encountered in recent times. Absolutely mesmerizing novel. #kintsuginovel #culturecare
Jane Greer, poet and editor: This new novel is unlike anything I’ve ever read—and the best novel I’ve read in ages. It’s set in Puritan New England and uses gorgeous language to tell a gentle but riveting story. I stayed up until 3:30 this morning to finish it.
Pete Candler, writer, photographer, filmmaker: Y’all @marlyyoumans is an absolute star. I mean she’s a fantastic poet and novelist but she’s also a gem of a human. Order her new novel, “Charis in the World of Wonders.” It’s what we all need. [Well, I don't deserve that shiny personal compliment, but I'm glad he likes Charis! --MY]
Charis + pandemic post from poet and novelist Amit Majmudar on twitter: congrats to my fellow novelist-poet, @marlyyoumans, on the launch of her new novel — no one gets to leave quarantine unless and until they’ve ordered it!
Shann Ray, poet and writer: ...a novel by my friend Marly Youmans that is astounding, a deep true read, and a book of abundance, grace, and stunning beauty: Charis in the World of Wonders. For a safe haven in the storm, Charis will see you through!
Sebastien Doubinsky @sebdoubinsky: I absolutely love @marlyyoumans's universe. If you don't know it yet, you should really give it a try. Beautiful, magical and thought-provoking. 9 June 2020
Chris Phillips, writer @MobyProf: A bit of a sequel to my tweet a couple of weeks ago about my latest book-buying: @marlyyoumans’ Charis in the World of Wonders is THAT GOOD. The pacing is masterful, the world is pungent & tangible, & Charis’s inner life is exquisitely done. Thank you, Marly! 8 June 2020
Patricia Heaton, actor @PatriciaHeaton: I’m loving your book "Charis in the World of Wonders!" What a unique voice you've created! 4 June 2020
Mary Bullington, painter and poet: Last night, I started Marly Youmans’ new novel, “Charis in the World of Wonders" and was 63 pages deep when I made myself turn off the light. In midst of an Indian attack on her tiny Puritan settlement in the spring of 1690, a teenager begins to tell her life story, even as she makes a harrowing escape into the forest with her 7-year-old sister. Charis's lens on the events and people of her time is devastating. At once innocent and clear-sighted, she speaks to all that she sees, imagines, and feels. Parts read as though Goya’s Disasters of War --“This I saw”-- were told not by a mature and cynical court painter, but by a devout, well educated young woman who has no choice but to observe and participate. 9 June 2020
Jane Zwart, poet: Replying to @kenyonreview I'm reading @marlyyoumans: Charis in the World of Wonders. Not even a hundred pages in but already entranced. May 31, 2020
Midori Snyder, novelist: I recommend highly reading Marly Youman's most recent novel, "Charis in the World of Wonders." Stunning novel . It would be very instructional for Christian writers to read and see how faith and narrative combine together in a celebration of both. 18 June 2020
H.S. Cross, novelist: Just signed off on my review of @marlyyoumans beautiful CHARIS IN THE WORLD OF WONDERS for @Livng_Church. This book should be getting more attention @IgnatiusPress Jul 17, 2020
Leonard D. Greco, Jr., artist: ...the images you produce are as vital as those produced on an easel. You are it seems a painter, a colorist, at heart, the line so beautifully blurred. 23 July 2020
Marly is a peerless writer and at Ignatius she has an editor and team doing everything to ensure that the book's jacket and the illustrations within do justice to her illuminating narrative. Not for the first time with Marly I'm steeped in a world of early American folk art, of embroidered samplers and nature not yet crowded out by man. At its heart, Charis on her courageous Hortus, who must carry her to safety and a new life. The image here is just a tiny corner of the cover artwork. It has been, as it always is in the company of Marly, a revelatory journey.
--Clive Hicks Jenkins, pilfered from his page on facebook