It’s 2026, and Rally is thirteen years old. The long, hot Louisiana summer looms before him like a face-melting stretch of blacktop, and the country is talking civil war while his adoptive family acts more vicious than ever. Rally spends his days wondering about his dead father’s people, the Woolsacks of West Florida, who long ago led a failed rebellion to carve their own state from the swamp and sugar-sand of the coast. That family might have been his too—if his mother and a crew of vigilantes hadn’t tried to kill them all back when he was a baby. Rally lives in the shadow of guilt and in fear of the only other survivors: his uncle Rodney, now a professional gunfighter on the app DU3L, where would-be shooters square off in armed combat, and his mysterious cousin Destiny, whereabouts unknown, whose own violence brought the massacre to an end.
When the Woolsacks’ legacy is co-opted by Troy Yarbrough, a far-right politician leading a movement to turn the Florida panhandle into a white Christian ethnostate, Rodney bursts into Rally’s life, taking him on a journey into the wild heart of West Florida, where they join forces with a woman known only as the Governor—part prophet, part machine, with her own blazing vision for West Florida. Soon Rally will learn what West Florida means to the Woolsacks, and the lengths they will go to protect it, all while he falls for the machine-gun-toting, ATV-riding girl next door.
An explosive, genre-redefining take on family, violence, and the costs of preserving a legacy in a sun-soaked world of megachurch magnates, suburban guerillas, and robotic warriors, The Great State of West Florida is also the tender coming-of-age story of a young man caught in the wheels of something bigger than he knows.
Praise for The Great State of West Florida:
“With a punk ethos, apocalyptic plot, grindhouse style and swagger, and the poised, lyrical craftsmanship that only Kent Wascom could bring to the page, The Great State of West Florida is as bold as it is elusive. In a time where books are increasingly crammed into ever smaller and smaller genre boxes, Wascom blasts a Florida-sized hole into the expected and sends his misfit crew—guns blazing, no caution in sight, as soaked in blood as they are sweat—on a wild ride into the mythos of the West. This is Mad Max meets Planet Terror meets The Walking Dead, on a stage set for the Hatfields and McCoys.”—Steph Post, author of Holding Smoke and A Tree Born Crooked
“The Great State of West Florida is full of the hopeful and the lost, dreamers and the damned. Yet, at the heart of Kent Wascom’s wild ride of a novel is one of family—what it means to lose one, to yearn for one, and to find one again in the unlikeliest of places. Told in glimmering prose, this story will find a way to make you laugh as well as break your heart.”—LaTanya McQueen, author of When the Reckoning Comes
“Kent Wascom’s The Great State of West Florida positively gleams with raw, gorgeous energy. Every chapter is sweeping and grand, to be sure. Yet every chapter is just as attuned to intimate moments between characters, the kind of moments we read for. I was spellbound by it all—this story, these characters, these sentences.”—Olivia Clare Friedman, author of Here Lies
Praise for Kent Wascom:
“One of the darkest, most compelling writerly imaginations around.”—New Orleans Advocate
“[Wascom’s] style and subjects echo great Southern writers like William Faulkner and Harry Crews, continuing a tradition of recounting terrible things in deliriously beautiful language.”—Tampa Bay Times
“Wascom is a careful student of history, and his portraits of America are riven with many of its seamier episodes . . . Wascom makes an art of illuminating the many ways that America’s history belies the vaunted ideals on which it was founded.”—Washington Independent Review of Books
“Family drama and love story, Wascom’s latest is evidence of an evolving talent. Look for more.”—Kirkus Reviews, on The New Inheritors
“Unfurling one fine sentence after another, The New Inheritors is like some magnificent dream ship from the past set to churn the waves of the present, bound for blood and beauty, and for the breaking of heads and hearts.”—Laird Hunt, author of Neverhome
“The landscape, grand and melancholy, comes alive in Kent Wascom’s The New Inheritors, shaping the characters and the history of the Gulf in illuminating ways, showing readers how much place and history can tell us about who we are.”—Chantel Acevedo, author of The Distant Marvels and The Living Infinite
“Smoke is still rising off Kent Wascom’s spectacular debut, The Blood of Heaven, but this young author is already roaring back with a sequel [Secessia] . . . Wascom is one of the most exhilarating historical novelists in the country.”—Ron Charles, Washington Post
“Wascom has been likened to Faulkner and McCarthy, and his fire-breathing, idiosyncratic style stands up to that comparison. Secessia should be greeted with trumpets and fanfare. I haven’t read a novel this exciting in a long, long time.”—Valerie Martin, author of The Ghost of the Mary Celeste and Property
“Wascom is a craftsman, and each of his lengthy, winding sentences shimmers with the tang of blood and bone and sweat, and the archaic splendor of his language.”—Boston Globe
“I truly can count on the fingers of one hand the number of first novels that have ever excited me this much. Wascom made me think at times of Cormac McCarthy, Charles Frazier and William Gay, but his vision is very much his own, as is his extraordinary voice . . . This book is pure gold.”—Steve Yarbrough, on The Blood of Heaven
“Mr. Wascom’s writing rolls from the page in torrents, like the sermon of a revivalist preacher in the grip of inspiration. You can’t help listening, no matter how wicked the message.”—Wall Street Journal
“With its setting, its violence-driven plot and its resonant and often harshly beautiful language, The Blood of Heaven evokes comparison to the work of Cormac McCarthy. Its mordant humor and its exploration of slavery and violence as the tragic flaws at the heart of American history—as well as its awareness of what hellish danger awaits those who are sure God is on their side—recall such writers as William Faulkner, Flannery O’Connor and Mark Twain . . . Kent Wascom is a striking new voice in American fiction.”—Miami Herald