Scorched Grace

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Pub Date 21 Feb 2023 | Archive Date 21 Feb 2023
Zando Projects, Gillian Flynn Books

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Description

Sister Holiday, a chain-smoking, heavily tattooed, queer nun, puts her amateur sleuthing skills to the test in this “unique and confident” debut crime novel (Gillian Flynn).

When Saint Sebastian's School becomes the target of a shocking arson spree, the Sisters of the Sublime Blood and their surrounding community are thrust into chaos. Unsatisfied with the officials' response, sardonic and headstrong Sister Holiday becomes determined to unveil the mysterious attacker herself and return her home and sanctuary to its former peace. Her investigation leads down a twisty path of suspicion and secrets in the sticky, oppressive New Orleans heat, turning her against colleagues, students, and even fellow Sisters along the way.

Sister Holiday is more faithful than most, but she's no saint. To piece together the clues of this high-stakes mystery, she must first reckon with the sins of her checkered past-and neither task will be easy.

An exciting start to Margot Douaihy’s bold series for Gillian Flynn Books that breathes new life into the hard-boiled genre, Scorched Grace is a fast-paced and punchy whodunnit that will keep readers guessing until the very end.

Sister Holiday, a chain-smoking, heavily tattooed, queer nun, puts her amateur sleuthing skills to the test in this “unique and confident” debut crime novel (Gillian Flynn).

When Saint Sebastian's...


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ISBN 9781638930242
PRICE $27.00 (USD)

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Average rating from 115 members


Featured Reviews

Thank you, Gillian Flynn Books, for allowing me to read Scorched Grace early!

Both thrilling and emotional, I adored this mystery novel starring a fearless queer nun.

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I am a sucker for an imperfect protagonist and a good noir feel mystery and Scorched Grace delivered for me on both fronts! I wish Sister Holiday the queer riot girl musician nun had been my music teacher at school! The mystery was compelling however I also enjoyed just reading about the characters lives in New Orleans and during the flash backs. There is plenty of depth and mystery in her character which is fitting given this is the start of a series and I expect we’ll learn more about her as the series continues. I am looking forward to the next installment!

Many thanks to Zando Projects/Gillian Flynn Books for an eARC via Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.

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This ARC was provided to me via Kindle, from Zando Projects, Gillian Flynn Books and #NetGalley. Thank you for the opportunity to preview and review. Opinions expressed are completely my own.

Sister Holiday's a queer, tattooed, chain-smoking nun you're bound to adore. I feel you need to discover Sister all by yourself, like a treat to unwrap on a holiday (pun intended).

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This book is CLAIRE DEWITT AND THE CITY OF THE DEAD meets AGATHA OF LITTLE NEON. If that sounds good to you, I highly recommend this title.

In fact, I have been looking for a RIYL punk-rock detective like CLAIRE DEWITT for quite a while. While this book (1st in a series) isn't as grungy as the DeWitt series, it does share an ethos of spirit.

Thank you for the ARC.

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*I received this book as an ARC from Zando Projects, Gillian Flynn Books and #NetGalley for an honest review. Thank you so very much for allowing me to read and review!*

Scorched Grace by Margot Douaihy had me hooked from the beginning. It is a classic whodunit told by the perspective of a very unconventional MC. Sister Holiday is a tattooed, queer nun who teaches music classes at a catholic school in New Orleans. As a series of arsons take place on campus, Sister Holiday is driven to solve the mystery and unmask the invisible assailant. This book goes on many twists and turns that will leave you guessing until the very end. I loved the character development, I just wish there were more chances for side characters to be fleshed out. Hopefully in future books! Sister Holiday’s life story was the most captivating as the traumatic experiences and other events that molded her during her life pre-vows are unraveled throughout the book. I would definitely recommend this book and cannot wait to read more in this series.

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Thank you to Netgalley, Kindle from Zando Projects, & Gillian Flynn Books for the advanced reader copy!

Margot Douaihy has written SUCH a fun book. As someone who used to work in a convent (I know...), this one was a real treat. I think that we all adored Sister Holiday, such an icon. This is admittedly one of the first real mysteries I have read (I typically reach for thriller/suspense if there's any mystery at all), and it was a wild ride. I don't want to give too much away, so I'll say this: Sister Holiday is a saint in her own way.

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“Sister Holiday, a chain-smoking, heavily tattooed, queer nun” !?! What more could you need? Scorched Grace was a great book, I can’t recommend it more! It’s such a funny read

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Sister Holiday is sure to grab your attention and possibly your heart. I think she is one of the most interesting characters that I have read about recently. You get a real sense of who she was and who she now is. I would love to see this character on the big screen.

This book was not at all what I expected. For some reason, I thought this would be a fun, lighthearted mystery novel. Scorched Grace actually covers some very serious topics and is rather dark. It’s a slower paced story (a bit too slow for my liking) but is beautifully written and I thought the ending was incredible.

Thank you NetGalley and Zando Projects, Gillian Flynn Books for this digital arc in exchange for my honest review which is not affiliated with any brand.

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This is a story that will expand and enrich the whole of the whodunit genre! While I didn't feel particularly connected to the characters, the way the story balanced between wild and the structured makes it feel like a totally unique experience for mystery lovers.

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First off thanks to the publishers for the ARC!

This book was a ton of fun, if sister act was a cozy queer mystery this would be somewhat close. Haha. All of the characters feel fully realized and fun, and our main character is so full of life and just so snarky and fun to follow.

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This series introduces readers to an unforgettable character who is a queer nun with tattoos and a chain-smoking habit. As an amateur sleuth, she uses her skills to discover the arsonist terrorizing the Sisters of Sublime Blood and their community. Her investigative efforts cause her to face some of her past that she would rather forget. It's a great mystery with a memorable character. Hope there is another book about Sister Holiday.

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This book is brilliant. The author explores the role of women in religion in a way that showed the good, the bad, and the downright chilling.

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this was a unique concept for a mystery novel, it was what I was hoping for from the description. I was invested in what was happening and enjoyed the concept of the nun, it was a great start to this series. I really enjoyed what was happening and getting to know these characters. It left me wanting to read more in this universe.

"Riveaux cleared her throat. “We’ve got two fires here on your premises. Two dead bodies. Someone on your campus knows something, and has chosen to stay silent. Even if it seems small, tell us."

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This book delivered the spunk and grit that the premise promised it would. A tattooed, take-no-bullshit, crime-solving queer nun? Count me in - for the long-haul. I read a review that wondered if this book would be the first in a mystery series, and I would be on board with that. Sister Holiday is a character I would love to return to again, and Margot Douaihy is an author who I think will just get better with time and experience. This was such a fun read, and I'd recommend for fans of spunky mysteries!

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Absolutely yes! I really enjoyed reading this novel. The characters were fun, it held my interest, and provided an escape from reality. I would definitely recommend!

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Sister Holiday is my new favorite detective! A queer, tattooed, cigarette smoking, punk rocker nun from Brooklyn is an unexpected protagonist, but one that I completely fell in love with. A perfect whodunit, set in New Orleans and with a host of eccentric characters (and suspects), Doualhy's writing is so fun and alive. At her convent, Sister Holiday narrowly survives a series of arsons that are both mysterious and deadly. It's such a perfect set-up for a series and I hope that happens! It's a gothic vibe that I enjoyed spending time with, definitely check it out.

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Leaning towards a 4.5

I had a lot of fun reading this one. Lesbian punk turned nun witnesses a fire at the school she works at and the death of a friend. The reader will later learn how personal this situation is for her. Sister Holiday the goes on a quest to track down the arsonist.

For the mystery part I will say it is a case of "the person you were suspecting the least" and I wasn't fully engaged in the mystery.

However I loved the characters and their complexity in particular Holiday. The story is intercut by flashbacks of her past complicated/toxic relationship with her ex which contrasts with how she is today.

The Catholic aesthetic was also on point and I want to see more catholic queer books

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I got really hooked on this book!

First let's talk about this cover, it's absolutely perfect and what drew me to the book.
Sister Holiday finds herself witnessing a fire at Saint Sebastian's School and gets herself into the investigation. She suspects everyone, goes looking for clues, is yet again a witness to another fire, becomes a suspect herself. All while she reminisces about her previous life. It was a great balance of past and present - we got the mystery solving in the present, and what happened in the past that led Holiday to this new life. This book left me wanting more.

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Absolutely loved this gritty mystery which a unique protagonist. This book is different to typical female led thrillers which are in an absolute abundance these days. This book was memorable and layered. Loved it and highly recommend! Can’t wait to get a gorgeous physical copy when it’s released.

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Scorched Grace by: Margot Douaihy
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
5 stars

Release date: February 21st 2023

A queer, smoking, tattooed nun, an arson/murder mystery that needs to be solved, and it’s set in New Orleans. How could you not immediately want to read this based on the synopsis? Before even opening it the stained glass style cover is really beautiful and eye catching, it’s one of my favorites. Thankfully the book inside also delivers. I couldn’t put this book down. I saw someone say they thought this was going to be apart of a series, and I really hope that’s true because I need more Scorched Grace content. Sister Holiday is our really flawed protagonist, but despite her imperfections she just wants the best, and to solve the murder and serial arson at the church. I thought it was really interesting to see the really flawed character type that’s usually not how nuns in media are portrayed. Sister Holiday is in my top favorite characters. I just really loved everything about this book!

*a copy of this book was provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

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What a ride of a book. Margot's poetic writing painted a stunning portrait of the chain-smoking, heavily tatted queer nun and the intensely heated streets of New Orleans. I've never been a fan of detective/sleuth books, but the plot drew me in. I could se why Gillian Flynn picked this book as her first book under her imprint. Can't wait to see what happens in the next Sister Holiday mystery!

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An introspective thriller in which the main character is a heavily tattooed, queer nun. Sister Holiday is attempting to solve the mystery of arson at her school. The writing felt like a very old-school detective story, which I enjoyed. The twisty mystery m kept me guessing. I also really loved the side characters. This reads like it’s meant to be a series and I am looking forward to seeing what Sister Holiday gets up to next!

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“Scorched Grace” is the debut novel by author Margot Douaihy and the first publication from Gillian Flynn (author of “Gone Girl”). A powerful story about religion and sin, family, and secrets so powerful they are literally buried in the ashes.
Sister Holiday is a novitiate at the Sisters of Sublime Blood convent, trying to instill in her students her love of music and the healing power of prayer. She is also a chain smoking, heavily tattooed member of the LGBTQ community, information she tries to keep a secret from her students, as she looks for a place to belong. Somewhere in their midst, however, an arsonist blooms, as one by one, school buildings are set on fire. After the loss of two of her close friends in these devastating fires, Holiday decides to rely on her previous skills and help the police find out who’s behind these devious acts. Hoping for redemption of her own, Sister Holiday must make amends with her own past before laying blame.
“Scorched Grace” is a unique and emotional novel, set against the backdrop of New Orleans in all of its sticky, sweaty heat and unrelenting beauty and charm. Douaihy reveals Holiday’s past slowly and teasingly, through snippets told in Holiday’s own words, as she helps the police investigate the crimes taking place at her home. Holiday blows all stereotypes out of the water, as she is the last person anyone would expect to see as a nun and the sisters of the convent are constantly fighting against the male-dominated Diocese to keep its community afloat, confronting major issues like religion and sexism head on.
Holiday is relatable in every way. Torn apart by a past of dysfunction and chaos, Holiday is smart, modern, and acerbic in all the best ways. Bitter yet desperate to see the world in a positive light, Holiday brings hope to a dark and grieving world. Her colleagues, both of the religious order and not, are devastatingly human and their vices and grievances only made them more likable.
As the quest for the arsonist continues, Douaihy makes every character suspect. Each police officer, teacher and even the nuns themselves have secrets they are desperate to keep, and “Grace” is a constant guessing game from the first page. When the ending hits, it is delightfully unexpected, bringing all of the plots twists and turns to one satisfying finale.
“Scorched Grace” has all of the makings of an award winning novel, and I see Douaihy skyrocketing to fame. Her novel is similar to creative, renowned works by authors like Douglas Stuart, and Douaihy’s unique and modern writing should receive similar accolades. “Grace” has the potential to take the novel into a sequel, and possibly a series, and I really hope Douaihy brings more Sister Holiday to the world soon!

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⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
🔥🚬🔍✝🏳️‍🌈

I wanted to read this book the moment I read the description. A lesbian, smoking, nun with a tragic past, who investigates mysteries fires and murders. Sign me the HELL up. (Pun intended).

This debut book by Margot Douaihy was hard to put down. I loved the mystery, the detective work, and the characters and I especially loved how Sister Holiday was written. I loved that she had a troubled past and that her faith didn't damper her sexuality. I love how she is a very unconventional nun but still devoted at the same time.

My favourite part about this book is that it had me guessing until the end. I loved books where I can't figure out who did it before it's revealed. It had me sucked in from the very beginning right until the very end.

I hope there will be more books in this series because I absolutely loved it.

AND OMG I JUST FOUND OUT IT"S GOING TO BE A TV SHOW. I"M SO EXCITED! CONGRATS MARGOT!

Thank you to Netgalley, Margot Douaihly, Zando Projects, and Gillian Flynn Books for a copy of the ebook. I leave this review voluntarily.

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Wow, what a debut! Douaihy starts off this mystery series about the most unconventional nun you’ll ever meet with the ferocity of a cat clawing its way out of a full bathtub. With tight yet lyrical prose, she introduces Sister Holiday and all her emotional scars with equal amounts of humor and tenderness, and every secondary character feels just as fleshed out and vital to the story. New Orleans serves as the sweltering, magical backdrop to a solid, engaging mystery with plenty of twists. Looking forward to seeing what this tattooed, sailor-mouthed sleuthing nun gets into next!

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Sister Holiday, the star of Margo Douaihy's debut mystery "Scorched Grace," is a character like no other. A chain-smoking, hard-swearing nun with a troubled past. Sister Holiday + the vivid New Orleans setting (the humidity jumps off the page) makes this book one mystery lovers won't want to miss.

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Scorched Grace is a wonderfully atmospheric debut novel. Main character Sister Holiday is a queer, chain-smoking, tattooed novitiate at a tiny convent in New Orleans, and she also teaches music at the convent's private Catholic high school. Restless in her new life, she stumbles upon a fire within the school one night that kills one of her beloved coworkers and launches her into an investigation that threatens the precarious stability she's built for herself at the convent. As more arsons take place at the school and more of her beloved convent family are killed, Sister Holiday must finally reckon with the turbulent past she's been hiding from within the convent walls.

It was a bit challenging to connect with Sister Holiday at first, but as the story progressed and we learned more about what she valued and what drove her to join the convent, she became easier to relate to. By the end I was craving more time with her, so I hope that this is only the first in a series of Sister Holiday mysteries.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read this book!

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Thanks to NetGalley and Zando Books for an ARC in exchange for an honest review!

This was honestly unlike anything I've ever read before! I'm a sucker for a mystery and this crime fiction debut was certainly something I thought would be right up my alley and I was absolutely right about it. Sister Holiday is a flawed but intriguing main character, made all the better by the way she acknowledges and pushes through her past. Every character felt so purposefully placed in their roles and felt fleshed out so well, no matter what their purpose was, and even more than that, they were all equally unreliable to me (which I absolutely loved). My only (small) drawback with this book was the pacing. While it wasn't too bad, there were some moments that felt like they dragged and then it almost felt like we were thrust too fast into the ending, leaving me wanting more of what comes next. Though I believe this will be a series if I remember correctly so it's likely that will be resolved in the next book! Overall, this is a crazy, twisting and turning debut and I'm excited to have it officially on my bookshelf! (Don't forget to check content warnings!)

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NetGalley ARC Educator 550974

Sister Holiday is one bad mother*** I absolutely loved this book. Not only was she unconventional but amazing. If this ever gets to the big screen,I know it will become a cult classic.

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I requested this book after seeing it was Gillian Flynn’s first choice for her new publishing imprint. My confidence in Flynn’s taste was borne out. This book has the humor, sharp plotting and terrific writing you would hope for from a book Flynn is metaphorically shoving into your hands. Throughout the novel, Douaihy threads wonderful imagery of light/darkness and fire/light as well as the warped light of stained glass windows. Sister Holiday is a funny, interesting, clever protagonist.

Douaihy joins the ranks of authors who've written an incredible New Orleans novel. Excited to see where her career goes from here.

I received an e-galley of this book from Netgalley in return for this review.

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A nice mystery/thriller, told beautifully, about a tattooed and queer nun that finds herself tangled in some arsons at her convent. I really liked the queer representation intersected with her being catholic, her backstory and the general mystery up until the unexpected ending. Overall a very enjoyable read!

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I loved this book so much! I hope this is the start of a new series! Punk-rock, queer nun, Sister Holiday, sets out to investigate arsons at the school where she teaches. She deals with past memories of trauma in her life that led her to becoming a nun. I really enjoyed this book by Margot Douaihy and this first novel from Gillian Flynn’s publication company. I was hooked from the start and devoured this in 2 days.

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I am simply obsessed. Sister Holiday is not only a badass, queer nun but I found myself crying over certain scenes from her past- her vulnerability, pain, regrets. No spoilers, I promise :) Thanks Netgalley & the publisher for the ARC, in exchange for an honest review.

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Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC of this book. I had NO idea what to expect from a book about a queer nun solving crimes but it far exceeded my hopes. The writing was poetic without being obtuse, the pace was quick, and the plot was well developed. I really hope this ends up being a series, I already miss the characters.

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what a fucking fantastic novel. catholicism is usually not open to nor accepting of queer and trans people & punk/alt folks, but margot douaihy changes that with an iconic queer, tatted up nun who isn’t afraid to say the word “fuck.” sister holiday smokes cigs, digs chicks, and is a total badass. when a fire claims the life of a student, sister holiday sets off to discover the reasons behind the arson and who is responsible. with new orleans as the backdrop, this incredibly fun and riveting novel explores the lives of queer people living in religious spaces, and how religion does not need to have institutions based in homophobia and transphobia. douaihy also expertly tackles issues with police, who don’t seem to want to help at all.

what a beautiful novel, is really all i can say. it was fun, well paced, and full of strong characters. sister holiday has an aesthetic like no other, and everything she does oozes badassery. if you like mysteries, murder, and complex relationships with religion, this book is for you. i loved it.

thank you to netgalley and the publisher for this arc in exchange for an honest review!

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Scorched Grace is dark, funny, touching story about starting over and learning to forgive yourself. It’s about reinventing yourself without losing yourself. And yeah, it’s also an arson/murder mystery. But the thrilling mystery at the heart of this novel is just a vehicle for exploring Sister Holiday’s journey to find herself and heal from her troubled past, all while flipping the hardboiled/noir genre on its head. Maintaining the hilariously serious voice of the detective narrator, Sister Holiday is the type of complex protagonist you can’t help but love and want to learn more about. She almost reminds me of Detective Benoit Blanc from Knives Out if he was, you know, a heavily tattooed nun.

My only real critique is that the side characters, while each deeply fascinating individuals, weren’t explored as deeply as I would’ve hoped. This worked well in terms of piquing intrigue without giving too much away—a great technique for writing red herrings—but left me wanting more. I’m assuming this is only the first of a series of Sistery Holiday mysteries, and I can’t wait to see what happens next.

Thank you to NetGalley and Gillian Flynn Books for providing me with an ARC of Scorched Grace in exchange for an honest review.

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This was such a fun read! Reading about a tattooed, smoking queer nun is all iv ever needed in life.

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Gritty mystery thriller with an interesting main character. Set in a catholic school in New Orleans. Enjoyable read even if you aren’t super interested in nuns or catholic schools. Loved the mystery and the characters. Will be featured on Your Rainbow Reads podcast in the future.

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I spent preschool through sixth grade in a Catholic school, only to end up being queer. The fifth and sixth grade classrooms were actually on the top floor of the convent. My fifth grade religion teacher was a nun named Sister Rita who adored pop culture, and I had her the year Britney Spears had her public meltdown, and in retrospect, Sister Rita's take on the whole situation was very ahead of the times. All this to say that I'm probably very much the target audience for reading about a queer tattooed nun being an amateur sleuth.

Sister Holiday - tattooed, queer, and with a rocky past - is the newest and most unlikely recruit of the Sisters of the Sublime Blood in New Orleans. When a string of arson targets her school, St. Sebastian's, she decides to take matters into her own hands and try to solve the mystery herself.

While the main mystery is the arson, I was most intrigued by the flashbacks that slowly illuminate Sister Holiday's past. I really appreciated the way that the author navigated Holiday's faith and identity - it was nuanced and thoughtful. She was absolutely a fascinating character.

I did guess who did it, but I suspected several people along the way first. My biggest note would be that the pacing sometimes felt off for me - sometimes too slow, sometimes too fast where I'd find myself having to go back a few paragraphs to figure out what I missed. It sometimes felt a little disjointed. However, I think this sets up really well for a future series - there's plenty to still learn about Holiday and the various side characters. Overall, I enjoyed this debut and will keep my eyes open for what this author writes next!

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for the ARC in exchange for my honest opinion.

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A queer-smoking-heavily tattooed nun has to figure out who the serial arsonist is at her Catholic School. This novel had everything! Humor, darkness, thriller/mystery, and a little bit of spice! I really enjoyed Margot Douaihy’s writing style, and I am so excited for what else is to come from this author! Thank you to NetGalley for this ARC!

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This is the kind of mystery where the main character and the setting are what keep me reading as much as the plot. I wanted to find out whodunnit, of course, but I grew to care about Sister Holiday and her rag-tag New Orleans Catholic School crew. I rooted for them, suspected them, and was immersed in their world in a way that only comes from a truly unique story. It was surprising, tragic, heartwarming, sharp, and special. I hope there are more Sister Holiday books. I'll be first in line.

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Scorched Grace took me to a place I'd never imagined: a convent/school in New Orleans.

Sister Holiday isn't your typical nun, tattooed, queer, ex-rocker, adulterer. She becomes an investigator when one of her colleagues is killed in an arson attack at her school, and two of her students are injured.

Things aren't quite as they appear when everyone is a suspect. Sister Holiday muddles through, trying to eliminate her friends, her students, and even the police working on the case.

Holiday's pre-convent life was wild, with sex, drugs, music, a fire of her own, and guilt. The book makes you think about the complexities of religion, addiction, guilt, tests of faith, friendship, and desire.

Can't wait to see where book 2 takes us!

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I haven't read a good mystery in a long time so I was excited to jump right into Margot Douaihy's debut novel, Scorched Grace. I loved the amateur-sleuth, chain-smoking, tattooed, queer nun protagonist, Sister Holiday. This is a character who drew me in immediately, kept me hooked, and was curious about her own background and the reason behind joining the order—The Sisters of the Sublime Blood. The more I learned about her past, the more interested I was in the story. My favorite scenes in the book were flashbacks of her life before joining the order. These are the types of characters I want to read more about. The pace was steady, the plot propulsive, and the clues were expertly placed. I loved the setting of New Orleans and could feel the sticky air in Douaihy's vivid descriptions. The scene that sticks with me the most is the flashback image of the burning car left parked outside the bar, and her mother sleeping inside it. Such a shocking reveal!

4/5 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I recommend to readers who enjoy fun mysteries with a morally grey protagonist, interesting settings, and a diverse cast of characters.

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This was such a fun read. Completely unique, and I love the character and voice of Sister Holiday so, so much. Douaihy sheds a really fascinating perspective on life, god, religion, and queerness, all while keeping readers hooked in a classic whodunit. Truly so much fun to read, beginning to end. Thank you so much for providing me with an e-ARC!

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Thank you so much to NetGalley for giving me the opportunity to read this book early! I absolutely loved this story. It was so utterly unique from any other detective novel or thriller that I’ve read in a long time. I loved the inherent contradictions in Holiday and how that informs her character and her actions. As a queer, atheist reader, I went into this book intrigued by the premise and how a queer woman could choose to become a nun, let alone a crime-fighting one. But I was pleasantly surprised at every turn. Holiday doesn’t shy away from her contradictions, instead she owns them. And that is what makes her such a unique character that felt so alive and human. As for the other characters, you couldn’t take them at face value either. While some of them fell into stereotypes, that was simply a ploy to get you, the reader, to consider them as more human when more of themselves, and their own contradictions, came to light. All in all, I loved how all the characters were so realistically flawed, as all people are.
The story was intriguing and kept me on the edge of my seat until I found out each clue alongside Holiday. I absolutely loved this. For anyone who thinks the crime, thriller, and mystery section of their shelves seems to be too overwhelmed by straight men, this is the book to pick up and have you begging for more.

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