The Through

Finalist for the 2018 Minnesota Book Award in Fiction!


Johnson writes in a lyrical prose that blends the vernacular voice with crisp images and an ear for music: “The area used to be a black neighborhood, but it’s just a vacant lot now. There are no buildings left for a haint to haunt, but if one popped out of the pokeweed berries and said how you be baby, I’d say awrite.” – Kirkus Reviews

Here is a novel about the hidden universes of being, a richly rewarding book that shows us how history is just above our heads, and the future is just under our feet, if we know how to look. – Jeffrey Renard Allen, author of Song of the Shank and Rails Under My Back.

Gripping, lyrical, and fiercely originalThe Through is an affecting thriller that defies categorization. Johnson’s prose is spellbinding in this essential book. – Alissa Nutting, author of Tampa and Made for Love.

Heartbreaking and imaginative from the start, The Through explores the violent histories haunting Tuscaloosans, Adrian and Ben, and it does so without ever losing its humor, magic, or hope. It’s a beautifully executed novel.Renee Simms, author of Meet behind Mars.


In The Through, Adrian and her partner Ben navigate the strange and dangerous magic of Okahika, a black ghost town that exists somewhere between Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and the other-world of flying slave ships and mothers back from the dead. This narrative interrogates blackness in the New South, including the ways in which it is haunted and revisited by the old. It also engages with love and trauma, exploring how we keep ourselves hidden and allow ourselves to know each other in our most intimate relationships.  – Jaded Ibis Press


Read an excerpt here.