Snakes of St. Augustine

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The theft of Trina Leigh Dean’s beloved snakes—including a rare eastern indigo named Unicorn, Banana Splits the yellow ball python, and Bandit the banded king snake—coincides with the disappearance of a troubled young man named Gethin Jacobs. While his sister, Serena, searches for him, she gains an unlikely accomplice—Jazz, a homeless community college student. Meanwhile, Trina’s friend Fletch, a burned-out cop, scours St. Augustine, Florida, for the stolen snakes. His quest puts Fletch on a dangerous collision course with Gethin, raising questions about community, family, and the power of compassion.

Praise for Snakes of St. Augustine

"Snakes of St. Augustine is a relentlessly beautiful and compelling story. Ginger Pinholster sees into the hearts, minds, and souls of her vast and varied cast of characters with grace, insight, and humor. This novel will linger with readers long after the final page is read."

—Connie May Fowler, author of A Million Fragile Bones

“I love the snakes in Ginger Pinholster’s new novel, Snakes of St. Augustine, because the people in her book love them. These snakes do not inspire fear, they do not elicit revulsion; they are powerful, beautiful, strong. As are Pinholster’s characters. This big-hearted novel is inhabited not just by dreamers and misfits, but by people struggling with serious mental illness, with addiction, with homelessness, with criminal behavior. Pinholster challenges our assumptions about their lives, without denying their pain or the harm they inflict. Steeped in a singular Florida charm, the novel reads sometimes like a thriller, sometimes like a love story, sometimes like a family drama. Take the leap: fall in love with Jazz, with Serena, with Fletch, with Rocky – maybe even with a ball python or a dusky pygmy rattler.”

—Laura McBride, author, We Are Called to Rise and In the Midnight Room

Snakes of St. Augustine is a beautifully sensory novel about relationships both broken and built by tragedy. The setting is palpable; this book is a portal to North Florida. Pinholster’s characters are vivid (you will swear you know them in real life) and she writes with humor, empathy, and vision.”

—Meagan Lucas, author, Songbirds and Stray Dogs

“Here is a richly textured and compelling novel full of unforgettable personalities who will have you turning pages long into the night. Set in a slice of Florida that exists outside the margins of paradise, Pinholster masterfully spins a tale of humor and tragedy, trial and triumph. A book you won’t want to miss.”

—Gale Massey, author of The Girl From Blind River

“In Snakes of St. Augustine, an engaging novel about desperate love and pilfered snakes, Ginger Pinholster writes about neurodiversity with empathy and clarity. Her Florida reflects both the weirdness and beauty of her unforgettable characters.”

—Mickey Dubrow, author of American Judas

“In Snakes of St. Augustine, Serena, a young woman searching for her missing brother, finds herself swept up in a bleak and bizarre world of homeless encampments, drug-addled street jesters, and random pet reptiles. The last thing she needs is to fall in love with one of its denizens, until the charming but manic Jazz appoints himself her deputy. Pinholster’s equally wrenching and comic novel takes place against a backdrop of dead-ended despair endemic to northern Florida. Her characters, all of them at loose ends, become bound in a vasculature of feelings that turn them into family. Pinholster is a master of detail, both physical and emotional, and in her masterful hands, even lives tragically touched by mental illness attain poetry and meaning.”

—Jennie Erin Smith, author of Stolen World

Snakes of St. Augustine, Ginger Pinholster’s compelling second novel, deals with young men and women emerging from difficult childhoods and struggling with mental illness. The story is told from multiple points of view and the writing is stunning and deeply engaging. The characters are complex and authentic. They will work their way into your heart and as a reader you will feel an intense stake in the outcome. A mesmerizing story that defines `page turner’—you won’t want to let go with the last page. Pinholster is a talented novelist to watch and we’ll look forward to her next book.”

—Carla Rachel Sameth, M.F.A., author of What is Left and One Day on the Gold Line: A Memoir in Essays

“Pinholster describes wacky Florida with compassion and grace. With an ingenious plot and deeply rendered characters, the novel shows us the power of forgiveness, and the things that really matter in a nutty world: strength, love, humor, and hope.”

—Sara B. Fraser, author of Just River and Long Division

“Pinholster compassionately and deftly creates a cast of characters who live on the margin of our social fabric—people who are suffering from mental illness, who are homeless, who are struggling to get by having grown up without family support; yet these characters, some of whom have become largely invisible to society, find a family among one another. And then there is a story of stolen snakes, a missing person, and drug dealers amid the authentic ambience of a beach community.”

—Eva Silverfine Ott, author of How to Bury Your Dog