A Nest of Snakes is deeply engaging, downhome, and just a plain fun book to read.
As with the two previous Blackwater Novels, I read A Nest of Snakes in one sitting—it’s really that compelling! There’s so much about the book I love: the incredible food descriptions and the amazing dialects, especially Linc’s, which effortlessly take you back to another time, and so many warm and touching moments alongside the numerous adventures of twin brothers Will and Johnny, including a few rivetingly close calls.
Johnson is a master storyteller who transports me back to my younger self when I was discovering the larger world around me. I had forgotten how unnerving it is to be confronted by something as ugly as racial hatred, and then how comforting it is to have loving adults in your life to teach, nurture and show you the way. If I could use only one word to describe this book it would be “home,” because it gives me the safe and secure feeling I had growing up in a sometimes frightening, often difficult-to-understand world.
Although there is a Mark Twain quality to Johnson’s writing, I prefer Johnson’s. A Nest of Snakes provides a timeless read for people of all ages. I could not recommend it more highly.
— Steve Ann Chambers, Director of Philanthropy for the Humane Society Legislative Fund
—An original carol by Allen Johnson Jr.—
A Nest of Snakes ends with the lyrics of an original Christmas carol that I wrote back in the 1970s called “The First Christmas Eve.” Here is how that came about:
When I was a young man, when rock and roll was exploding on the music scene, I was attempting to be a songwriter. I was trying to write highly melodic, traditional, popular music at a time when there was no longer any demand for such songs. Needless to say, I was not successful in the music business.
One good thing that came out of that period, however, was a traditional Christmas carol I wrote called “The First Christmas Eve.” I believe this carol tells the nativity story in a way that captures the spirit of Christmas and, in the spirit of giving, I want to share it with all who enjoy the Blackwater Novels.
By clicking below, you can hear a recording of my carol, get the sheet music (a “Lead Sheet”), and a lovely (but difficult!) guitar arrangement done by my good friend, Richard Amster.
Linda Johnson was the vocalist on the recording, I was playing the guitar, and Bob Clark was playing bowed bass.
If you do this in the summer, Merry Christmas, anyway!
I hope you enjoy my traditional Christmas carol.