First Line Friday — The Messenger of Magnolia Street

30 Jul

Happy Friday! Today I am featuring a relatively old book (2006), but one I just acquired. I read The Miracle of Mercy Land by River Jordan about 10 years ago and loved it! I recently became aware another of her novels, The Messenger of Magnolia Street, in one of my FB reader groups. Intrigued, I quickly ordered a copy. And wonder of wonders, what arrived in my book mail was a signed edition! Woo hoo! So now it resides on my shelf with 2 distinctions — TBR and author signed. Have you read this novel? I’d love to know what you thought.

Here are the first two lines:

God is walking through Shibboleth, rummaging through the pockets of his memory, the distant past and the near future. The people of Shibboleth are sleeping, unaware of his presence or that he is considering them and their present circumstances.

The Messenger of Magnolia Street tells the haunting story of three childhood friends who reunite to fight the unnamed presence that is slowly draining their beloved town of goodness and light. Nehemiah Trust fled his hometown of Shibboleth twelve years ago, after the death of his mother. Now chief of staff for a powerful senator, Nehemiah has washed his hands of Shibboleth. But one night his older brother Billy and childhood friend Trice appear at his front door. Something is wrong, they tell him. Nehemiah is needed back home.

This mesmerizing novel of love awakened, purpose abandoned, and legacy reclaimed begins as slow and easy as a southern Sunday, but as the town of Shibboleth begins to sense the approaching darkness, the three friends must race against time to save the lifeblood of the place they call home. The solution requires a willingness to sacrifice everything.


River Jordan began her writing career as a playwright. Ms. Jordan’s first novel, The Gin Girl (Livingston Press, 2003), has garnered such high praise as “This author writes with a hard bitten confidence comparable to Ernest Hemingway. And yet, in the Southern tradition of William Faulkner, she can knit together sentences that can take your breath.” Kirkus Reviews described her second novel, The Messenger of Magnolia Street, as “a beautifully written atmospheric tale.” It was applauded as “a tale of wonder” by Southern Living, who chose the novel as their Selects feature for March 2006, and described by other reviewers as ” a riveting, magical mystery” and “a remarkable book.” Her third novel, Saints In Limbo has been painted by some of the finest fiction voices of today as “a lyrical and relentlessly beautiful book,” and “a wise, funny, joyful and deadly serious book, written with a poet’s multilayered sense of metaphor and meter and a page-turning sense of urgency,” and reported by Paste Magazine as “a southern gothic masterpiece.” 

Her fourth novel, The Miracle of Mercy Land, arrives on September 7, 2010. Her first non-fiction work, Praying for Strangers, An Adventure of the Human Spirit was published by Penguin/Berkley April 5, 2011.  Her latest work, Confessions of a Christian Mystic arrived from Faith Words/Hachette April 2, 2019. 

Ms. Jordan teaches and speaks around the country on “The Power of Story”, an hosts Clearstory Radio from Nashville. She is currently at work completing a new mystery novel set in Nashville. When not traveling, speaking or teaching River watches the stars come out from her front porch on the hill, and wonders about all things mystically, divine.

4 Responses to “First Line Friday — The Messenger of Magnolia Street”

  1. Cindy Davis July 30, 2021 at 4:54 pm #

    I have not heard of this book or author. I hope you enjoy it! My first line is from Woman in Shadow by Carrie Stuart Parks: “Why are those dogs barking?”

  2. Danielle Grandinetti July 30, 2021 at 7:25 pm #

    I haven’t come across this title before. Intriguing for sure!

    My First Line Friday post is from Love and the Silver Lining by Tammy L. Gray. https://daniellegrandinetti.com/2021/07/30/first-line-friday-love-and-the-silver-lining/

    Happy Friday!

  3. Nicole Santana July 30, 2021 at 11:59 pm #

    Happy Friday!
    I’m currently reading The Ace of Hearts by Ashtyn Newbold. It’s pretty good! I’m on chapter 8, so I’ll share from there.
    “Bridget’s room was near Alice’s, tucked on the second floor among all the newly decorated ones.”
    Hope you have a great weekend! 🙂❤📚

  4. Paula Shreckhise July 31, 2021 at 3:49 pm #

    My first line comes from The Nature of Small Birds by Susie Finkbeiner.
    No matter how the world has changed over the course of my life, somehow crayons still smell the same way they did when I was a kid.

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