Gods of Howl Mountain A novel
Book - 2018
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 runn...er.
*Starred Review* Rory Docherty returned from Korea, bringing home a wooden leg and a damaged psyche to his grandmother's cabin in the mountains of western North Carolina, where he faces dim prospects and a troubled past. His options are limited to running moonshine and outrunning the government revenuers in his beloved Ford, Maybelline, while reporting to Eustace Uptree, a fearsome WWII vet of near-mythical status. Rory does have one formidable ally, however, in the form of his badass Granny May, a corncob-pipe-smoking, razor-wielding former brothel owner turned folk healer, who concocts potions for the townsfolk for any affliction of body or mind. Brown (The River of Kings, 2017) immerses the reader in the mountain landscape, such that one can feel the rich soil as Granny May digs for roots, listen to nocturnal howls carried on the crisp night air, and smell the pig roasting over the fire. Brown's dialogue, too, is magical, capturing the local idioms and cadences and rendering them musical. Ultimately, though, it's the characters, so wonderfully vibrant and alive in their all-too-human variety—scared, tightly wound, angry, damaged, yet resourceful and resilient, some honorable, some not—that demonstrate Brown's prodigious talent. Brown has quickly established himself in the top echelon of Southern writers, and his latest will please readers of Wiley Cash and Ron Rash. Copyright 2018 Booklist Reviews.Review by Library Journal Reviews
Author of The River of Kings and Fallen Land, Montana Prize winner Brown again vivifies the rural South, set in 1950s North Carolina. Folk healer Granny May mixes cures and potions as she tends grandson Rory, a bootlegger back from the Korean War with a wooden leg, whose institutionalized mother has remained mute for years. Copyright 2017 Library Journal.Review by Library Journal Reviews
In his third novel (after River of Kings), critically acclaimed novelist Brown gazes unflinchingly at the Howl Mountain community of 1950s North Carolina, an unforgiving world of revivalists, moonshiners, family secrets, and deep-rooted grudges. Fiercely self-reliant Maybelline "Granny May" Docherty, who sits on her porch with a loaded shotgun in her lap, knows every creek bed and hollow as she searches out the medicinal herbs she uses to make potions and poultices for her neighbors. World War I took her husband, leaving her to struggle alone with baby Bonni. Living with her now is Bonni's son, Rory, a Korean War veteran suffering flashbacks and the loss of a leg. Rory works at the only thing he knows, running whiskey in a powerful Ford coupe that can outdistance revenuers, crooked sheriffs, and rival whiskey cars. But heartache still follows this little family. A terrible incident has left Bonni institutionalized and traumatized into silence, and Granny May wrestles with the full, heart-wrenching truth while never hesitating to mete out her own mountain justice. VERDICT Not to be missed, this bold, dark, gritty novel is another coup for Brown, whose lyrical descriptions of the landscape only add to the captivating story of indomitable but isolated folks bound by folklore, tradition, and a hardscrabble life. [See Prepub Alert, 10/5/17.]—Donna Bettencourt, Mesa Cty. P.L., Grand Junction, CO Copyright 2017 Library Journal.Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews
The powerful fourth novel from Brown (The River of Kings) is a Southern family drama set in 1952 among the lush mountains of North Carolina, where whiskey is as precious as mother's milk and blood ties run deep. Korean War veteran Rory Docherty, whose wooden leg and persistent dreams won't let him forget his past, runs moonshine whiskey for Eustace Uptree with Eustice's nephew Eli. Rory's fiery grandmother, folk healer Maybelline "Granny May" Docherty, will do anything to keep him safe. They care for Rory's institutionalized mother, Bonni, mute since an attack 22 years ago by three men—who were never caught—during which a boy was beaten to death and Bonni supposedly gouged out one of the men's eyes. Rory feels hope when he meets the lovely Christine Adderholt at a church revival. He's entranced, but her father, the one-eyed, snake-handling pastor Asa Adderholt awakens an uneasy suspicion inside him. Then Rory runs afoul of the psychotic Cooley Muldoon after a road race, and Muldoon's vendetta sets the stage for an explosive third act. Brown's lyrical prose invokes a verdant landscape whose rich past is woven into its roots and people; their dependence on the land and respect for its great mysteries are palpable. This tale of loyalty and retribution will linger with readers. Agent: Christopher Rhodes, the Stuart Agency.(Mar.) Copyright 2018 Publishers Weekly.
Concocting potions and cures for her 1950s mountain-dwelling community, a folk healer with a dark past helps her bootleg-whiskey-runner grandson outmaneuver rivals, federal agents, snake charmers, and the mystery of his mother's long confinement in a mental hospital.Review by Publisher Summary 2
Concocting potions and cures for her mountain-dwelling community, a folk healer with a dark past helps her bootleg whiskey runner grandson outmaneuver rivals, federal agents, snake charmers and the mystery of his mother's long confinement in a mental hospital. By the award-winning author of The River of Kings.Review by Publisher Summary 3
“A fresh, authentic, and eloquent new voice in American fiction.” - Robert Morgan, New York Times bestselling author of Gap CreekIn 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.