In Gods of Howl Mountain, award-winning author Taylor Brown explores a world of folk healers, whiskey-runners, and dark family secrets in the high country of 1950s North Carolina.
Bootlegger Rory Docherty has returned home to the fabled mountain of his childhood – a misty wilderness that holds its secrets close and keeps the outside world at gunpoint. Slowed by a wooden leg and haunted by memories of the Korean War, Rory runs bootleg whiskey for a powerful mountain clan in a retro-fitted ’40 Ford coupe. Between deliveries to roadhouses, brothels, and private clients, he lives with his formidable grandmother, evades federal agents, and stokes the wrath of a rival runner.
In the mill town at the foot of the mountains – a hotbed of violence, moonshine, and the burgeoning sport of stock-car racing – Rory is bewitched by the mysterious daughter of a snake-handling preacher. His grandmother, Maybelline “Granny May” Docherty, opposes this match for her own reasons, believing that “some things are best left buried.” A folk healer whose powers are rumored to rival those of a wood witch, she concocts potions and cures for the people of the mountains while harboring an explosive secret about Rory’s mother – the truth behind her long confinement in a mental hospital, during which time she has not spoken one word. When Rory’s life is threatened, Granny must decide whether to reveal what she knows…or protect her only grandson from the past.
With gritty and atmospheric prose, Taylor Brown brings to life a perilous mountain and the family who rules it.
When I first set down to write this review it started as a four star review. Guess what? The more I thought about it, the more it because a five star for me!
Y’all know I’m a sucker for novels based in North Carolina…bonus if they are by authors from NC. Taylor Brown, wrote a fantastic story based in the North Carolina mountains. He now lives in NC…so we are going to let him slide by.
This novel was everything I needed…let me tell you what I loved:
*Granny May. She was apologetically herself.
When I first started reading I didn’t quite understand her…but as we delved deeper in the story, I fell in love with her character.
*The historical aspect of where and how stock car racing started…that’s our claim to fame y’all and I loved the tie in to the story.
*I love gritty Appalachian noir and this checked all the boxes for me…without being too gritty. If that makes sense? I will recommend this title to lots more people because I think it is a little more manageable?!?
If that is not clear as mud, I just don’t know what is (lol). Seriously, this was a five star read for me that I will be lending out quite a bit. Taylor has, in this one novel, became an auto buy author for me!
If you enjoy David Joy…pick up this novel. Trust me….