Blog Tour: Magdalena Excerpt

Hello, all!

I don't know about you, but I'm ready for spooky season. If you're in the same boat, then you need to add Magdalena by Candi Sary to your TBRs.

Pub Date: 7-11-23

This story takes place in a small, secluded town that runs on gossip and superstition and follows a recluse named Dottie who develops a strange motherly interest in her young neighbor, Magdalena. When a scandal breaks out about a missing girl, a ghost and an affair that started it all, Dottie finds herself under scrutiny. Dottie has always kept to herself, but to squash the rumors, she'll need to face her fears and find her own voice.

You can check out an excerpt below!

“Focus, Dottie, focus,” I say a little louder, closing my eyes.

“What do you need to focus on?” someone asks.

Startled, I tighten the blanket around me and turn toward the voice. There is a white-haired lady in a wheelchair at my door. Her face is all wrinkled up like fingertips after a long bath, and her lips seem to be growing inward around her teeth. Thick bifocals, wrapped around her head like goggles, magnify her wet and cloudy eyes. There are some really old people here, but she has to be the oldest.

“I didn’t mean to frighten you,” she says, her ancient voice slowly rattling out the words. “I heard you from the hall.”

I wasn’t trying to be heard. I place my hand over my mouth to show her I’ve no interest in a conversation. I’m hoping my hand gesture will make her leave, but it doesn’t. Instead, she wheels through the small space between the two beds and parks next to me at the desk. Her nightgown is purple and far too big on her. She smells like leftover broccoli.

“I’m curious. What do you need to focus on?” she asks again.

It’s going to take some time getting used to this place. I’m not in the habit of answering to anyone, having lived alone for so long. “A letter,” I finally say. She’s so close now, there’s no escaping her. “I’m writing a letter. A story really. The rumors are terrible and—” I catch myself before it all comes flooding back. Their ugly words. All the lies. “I need to tell my story. It’s the only way to get the truth out.”

Her face lights up. “You must be Dottie,” she whispers. I nod. “I should have known.” Her eyes travel the length of me. “I heard about you, the young woman living in the old people’s home.” It sounds strange out loud but worse things have been said about me. “How old are you, dear?”


“So young.” She shakes her head. “It’s just awful what happened to you. How long will you be staying with us?”

“Well.” I look over at Mario in his bed. His eyes are open, but there’s no telling what he’s thinking as he stares at the ceiling tiles. “The Sisters say I can stay with my husband as long as I need. I’ve nowhere else to go.” She leans over the side of her chair to get a closer look at him.

“Does he even remember who you are?” “I haven’t let a day go by without coming to see him.” “But with what happened to him, do you think he can remember?”

“Oh, he remembers me.” I won’t let anyone convince me otherwise.

“That’s nice.” Her smile is kind. “Sometimes I think I remember too much,” she says. “Some things I wish I could forget, but the pictures are there in my mind, clear as day.” She sets her bony hands in her lap, and the veins bulge like soft worms. She smiles. Her demeanor is pleasant; it’s just the broccoli smell that’s bothersome.

I notice a pin on her nightgown. It’s gold with blue letters spelling out centenarian. I point to it. “You’re a hundred?”

“A hundred and two.”

“That’s incredible,” I say, feeling a new respect for her. She’s not just an old lady—she’s National Geographic material.

“It’s a curse, old age. The lucky ones die young. Freed from these bodies, they can move on. Or, of course, they can stick around.” She raises the few hairs left of her eyebrows, as if I know something about this. I feel her words in my stomach. I don’t respond. She whispers, “The ghosts of Sam’s Town are persistent, aren’t they, Dottie?”

“If you don’t mind, I’d like to get back to my letter.”

“But we haven’t talked about what happened to the girl yet.” She laces her fingers together under her chin. “We need to talk about what really happened to Magdalena.”

Hearing her name almost makes me lose my breath. I close my eyes and indiscriminate memories resurface—her blue nail polish, those stolen sunglasses on her head, lemon juice dripping from her fingers, her blood on the linoleum.

“Do you know what happened?” the old woman asks. “I mean what really happened to her?” She’s staring at me, waiting for an answer. I reach for my pen, gripping it like a weapon. “Until I write it all down, I’m not talking about it to anyone.”

“You can trust me, Dottie.” She wheels closer.

“I don’t even know you,” I say.

She smiles. It’s a sad smile. “Then let’s get to know one another.” She glances toward my husband before leaning forward. The smell is strong, her voice is soft. “Is it true that the man,” she asks, “who started it all was your lover?”

I close my eyes again, to escape her question, but now there he is behind my eyelids—Benjamin. His hand creeps under my dress and he’s massaging my leg. I squeeze my eyes tighter.

“Go away!” I shout. “Go away!” I am talking to Benjamin, but when I open my eyes, the old lady in the wheelchair is hunched over, wheeling away as fast as her bony arms will take her. I should explain that I was not yelling at her. But I don’t. I stay quiet.

While I feel a bit guilty, I’m relieved to see her go. The poor woman looks so frail heading for the door, like her arms might snap. That’s the other effect of vitamin D deficiency—frail bones. This town is killing all of us.

You can find out more about the book here!


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