A gripping, page-turning novel set in Jim Crow Florida that follows Robert Stephens Jr. as he’s sent to a segregated reform school that is a chamber of terrors where he sees the horrors of racism and injustice, for the living, and the dead.
Twelve-year-old Robbie Stephens, Jr., is sentenced to six months at the Gracetown School for Boys, a reformatory, for kicking the son of the largest landowner in town in defense of his older sister, Gloria. So begins Robbie’s journey further into the terrors of the Jim Crow South and the very real horror of the school they call The Reformatory.
Robbie has a talent for seeing ghosts, or haints. But what was once a comfort to him after the loss of his mother has become a window to the truth of what happens at the reformatory. Boys forced to work to remediate their so-called crimes have gone missing, but the haints Robbie sees hint at worse things. Through his friends Redbone and Blue, Robbie is learning not just the rules but how to survive. Meanwhile, Gloria is rallying every family member and connection in Florida to find a way to get Robbie out before it’s too late.
The Reformatory is a haunting work of historical fiction written as only American Book Award–winning author Tananarive Due could, by piecing together the life of the relative her family never spoke of and bringing his tragedy and those of so many others at the infamous Dozier School for Boys to the light in this riveting novel.
Tananarive Due is an American Book Award and NAACP Image Award–winning author, who was an executive producer on Horror Noire: A History of Black Horror for Shudder and teaches Afrofuturism and Black Horror at UCLA. She and her husband, science fiction author Steven Barnes, cowrote the graphic novel The Keeper and an episode for Season 2 of The Twilight Zone for Paramount Plus and Monkeypaw Productions. Due is the author of several novels and two short story collections, Ghost Summer: Stories and The Wishing Pool and Other Stories. She is also coauthor of a civil rights memoir, Freedom in the Family: A Mother-Daughter Memoir of the Fight for Civil Rights (with her late mother, Patricia Stephens Due). Learn more at TananariveDue.com.
“The writing here is spectacular; the pacing, engrossing; the setting, heartbreaking but honest; and the characters are given a nuance and depth rarely seen… A masterpiece of fiction.” -- Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW
“With fully realized characters and well-placed twists, Due ratchets up the tension until the final, extraordinary showdown.” -- Booklist, STARRED REVIEW
“A vividly realized page-turner, which is at once an ingenious ghost story, a white-knuckle adventure, and an illuminating if infuriating look back at a shameful period in American jurisprudence.” -- Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW
“Her fiction is always powerful, and The Reformatory promises to be her most moving — and horrifying — tale yet.” -- Vulture
“One of the greatest living horror writers.... Sure to be as powerful as it is haunting.” -- CrimeReads
“Due knocks it out of the park every damn time.” -- Book Rio
[H] Gallery/Saga Press / October 31, 2023
1.7" H x 9.1" L x 6.0" W (1.63 lbs) 576 pages