Gods of Howl Mountain
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.

Gods of Howl Mountain Details

TitleGods of Howl Mountain
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseMar 20th, 2018
PublisherSt. Martin's Press
ISBN-139781250111777
Rating
GenreHistorical, Historical Fiction, Fiction, American, Southern

Gods of Howl Mountain Review

  • karen
    January 1, 1970
    NOW AVAILABLE!!sitting here, trying to figure out how to describe this book, what keeps running through my mind are some of the lyrics from warren zevon’s Indifference of Heaven:I had a girlNow she's goneShe left townTown burned downwhich is the quintessence of zevon’s dark-molasses humor, but it’s also a pretty good way to classify authors across the grit-lit spectrum: will they or won’t they burn down the damn town? Frank Bill, Donald Ray Pollock, Clifford Jackman - they will burn their towns NOW AVAILABLE!!sitting here, trying to figure out how to describe this book, what keeps running through my mind are some of the lyrics from warren zevon’s Indifference of Heaven:I had a girlNow she's goneShe left townTown burned downwhich is the quintessence of zevon’s dark-molasses humor, but it’s also a pretty good way to classify authors across the grit-lit spectrum: will they or won’t they burn down the damn town? Frank Bill, Donald Ray Pollock, Clifford Jackman - they will burn their towns down. they will probably burn your town down.Tom Franklin, Ron Rash, Daniel Woodrell are not town-burners. Cormac McCarthy is capricious- he will burn or abstain from burning as the mood strikes him. Taylor Brown, however, from the two books i have read by him, does not appear to be a town-burner. so for those of you who are made uncomfortable by the jolly nihilism of town-burning grit lit, you might could enjoy this one. it’s not a sunny jan karon novel - there’s beatings, murder, guns, snake-handling, an eyeball in a jar, prostitution, rum-running, car-racing, marijuana-puffing, and many broken bones and spilled blood. but at the end of it all, there’s enough left standing to feel some hope. it’s just excellent storytelling - set in north carolina in the 1950s in a community whose citizens are very much aware of each others’ crimes, proclivities, and weaknesses, separated from the rest of the country by their mountainous geography, but still subject to its pesky prohibition laws, it’s where memories are long and justice takes many forms, usually unaccompanied by a badge. rory docherty is just back from the war, having left his leg in korea, and now he’s living with his granny may, delivering moonshine up and down the mountain in his souped-up ride for eustace uptree, the biggest bootlegger on the mountain. granny may is a former prostitute (mostly) retired into a folk healer, dispensing herbs and potions to all who dare or deign to approach, protected (mostly) by her witchy reputation and the power of eustace’s favor. rory’s mother/granny may’s daughter bonni has been institutionalized for rory’s whole life, after an attack by a group of masked men left her mute, rory’s father dead, and one of the perp’s eyes scooped out by bonni in self-defense. bonni is barely in the book, but her absence is a constant pressure between rory and granny may, a space filled with unasked questions, unspoken accusations, grief, rage, regret. it’s a powderkeg of a book, but there’s nothing flashy about it. sure, there’s plenty of violence and menace, but it’s a quiet kind of storytelling, like the quiet of a wild animal sizing you up, that you underestimate at your own peril. She prayed while he was in Korea. Prayed and prayed. Not to the church-god, exactly. To her own. One that lived closer, up on the mountain, perhaps. For here was a place fit for a god to live, not in any building or book. Here she was understood. She was wicked, sure, but no hypocrite. She had fought every day of her life, same as the beasts of the field. The bloody Christ nailed naked and roaring to the cross - his bones iron-split, his body whip-flayed to the meat - he was hard as they come. Surely he prized grit, a game heart. Same as she did.granny may is the clear star of the book, a complete badass spitfire that gets all the best lines”Christ’s father let him die on that cross,” she said. “I understand why he done it.” She leaned closer, whispering: “But Christ never had no granny like me.”not just the easy-to-cheer-for action hero lines like that, but also the most nuanced ruminations about life, love, sex, duty, family, the mountains, formulated while sitting on her front porch, smoking her pipe, taking what comes her way and surviving. it’s a book that is life-hard but still life-affirming, and as much as i do love the salt-the-earth overkill of the grittiest lit, sometimes it’s nice to have a town to come back home to.****************************************review to come, but yesssssssssssssss!come to my blog!
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  • Elyse
    January 1, 1970
    This is the third book I’ve read by Taylor Brown. MY APPRECIATION- RESPECT - ADMIRATION- and ENJOYMENT has increased with each book! My first go-around with Taylor Brown’s writing was with “Fallen Land”....which I struggled with. I appreciated the novel—and could see how many readers found itremarkable- yet I had difficulties ‘feeling’ much emotional connection with the writing.In “The River of Kings”....I was exhilarated with adventure- mystery - and the river itself.... In this story I was mel This is the third book I️’ve read by Taylor Brown. MY APPRECIATION- RESPECT - ADMIRATION- and ENJOYMENT has increased with each book! My first go-around with Taylor Brown’s writing was with “Fallen Land”....which I️ struggled with. I️ appreciated the novel—and could see how many readers found itremarkable- yet I️ had difficulties ‘feeling’ much emotional connection with the writing.In “The River of Kings”....I️ was exhilarated with adventure- mystery - and the river itself.... In this story I️ was melting with the gorgeous prose: the wildlife descriptions alone were treasures. It’s a great book! In THIS BOOK.....”Gods of Howl Mountain”.....I️ did my most thinking. Plus my feeling senses were wide open. I️ felt everything!For me, I️’ve gotten real value from reading this book. I️ kept noticing powerful symbolisms. For example Rory Docherty who spent 17 days in the Korea War....is haunted by the tragedies of war -his life having been threatened- and memories of death. Although Rory escaped death -(came back to his childhood mountains with a wooden leg), ....his life is threatened once again on his childhood mountain. There were many comparisons between the mountains and Korea - Rory couldn’t help remembering Korea...the Chosin Reservoir in 1950....the brutal landscape. There were so many references to death and the mountains— that often I️ thought - it was no accident that Taylor Brown placed the Korean War in this story in the first place. “Death presided over these lands like an entity itself, a thousand shreds of the same dread spirit looking for an opening, a wound or weakness of character. Once in, it was tough to get out”. Or....as Granny said: “It wasn’t dying that she feared, it was dying bad: leaving her grandboy alone in the world, unprotected, his wounds unhealed. Death, which walked ever through these mountains, knew she would not go down easy”. Speaking of Granny ....and Rory.... they are both very strong memorable stand out characters. Another reason to LOVE THIS BOOK- Fabulous characters!!!I️ love a novel that stretches my thinking - and touches my heart...both at the same time. I️ actually ‘could’ imagine dying in a Southern Country Mill Town where whiskey, cigarettes, and brothels, were as common as violence. A sad life - looking from the outside — but I’m guessing the people think differently who actually live there. Taylor Brown created such real images - I felt my body lifted to those mountains. I️ also thought about the title of this book....and why *Gods* Of Howl Mountain? I️ have my thoughts about the title .....but if Taylor Brown wanted to share and speak about it — I’m all ears to listen. Wonderful characters,....bootleggers, moonshiners, healers, a shady preacher and Sheriff, stock car racing....( I️’ve my own memories from Laguna Seca in Monterey), flannel shirts, a little love, family history and secrets, the inserted story about Bonni and Conner, suspense, snakes, surprises and one heck of a terrific ending! An absolutely gifted author.... with a very unique style! I’m just beginning to realize I️ don’t come close to seeing through his eyes. There are more layers to Taylor’s work that I’ve unpeeled. I’ll be thinking about this novel awhile longer. I️ liked it very much! Thank You Saint Martin’s Press, Netgalley, and Taylor Brown
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  • Angela M
    January 1, 1970
    Taylor Brown invites the reader to this place and time with such fantastic descriptive writing and in a page you are there . To this mountain in 1950’s North Carolina, to the land of moonshine and makeshift churches where snakes rule, where evil deeds of the past still haunt, to a place of healing herbs and potions, violence, deceit and greed - all so gritty and dark and so beautifully written with a sad love story at the center of it . Brown has such a command of the language, nothing flowery h Taylor Brown invites the reader to this place and time with such fantastic descriptive writing and in a page you are there . To this mountain in 1950’s North Carolina, to the land of moonshine and makeshift churches where snakes rule, where evil deeds of the past still haunt, to a place of healing herbs and potions, violence, deceit and greed - all so gritty and dark and so beautifully written with a sad love story at the center of it . Brown has such a command of the language, nothing flowery here, just perfect descriptions with the perfect adjectives that made me reread some passages just to feel them again and see what he wants us to see. Rory, a whiskey runner, is haunted by his time in the war in Korea, by the loss of a limb, by the killings, and by what happened to his mother before he was born. His Grandmother, feisty and tough Granny May is haunted by what happened to her daughter and by what she had to do in the past for them to survive. So it’s Rory’s mother story that is central to the novel. I love that we get to know it from Bonni’s perspective with short chapters interspersed so we get to know how much she loved the Gaston boy. Flashbacks to the past from both Rory and Granny are seamless as well. They take us to the past but tell us so much about where they are in the moment, in their thoughts of the past. No need to to rehash the plot, only to say it’s action packed in places , introspective in others, sad but with the injection of humor at times, repeating myself but gritty, sometimes violent and gruesome but all in all a fabulous story of the south, of love and family. 4+ stars from me. This was a monthly read with my great Goodreads friends Diane and Esil. It took three tries to find one we all thought positively about and thanks to Taylor Brown this was it. I received an advanced copy of this book from St. Martin’s Press through NetGalley.
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  • Diane S ☔
    January 1, 1970
    1950's, South Carolina, the place Rory returns to after his service in Korea cost him the part of one leg. He returns to the mountain home of his granny, the women who raised him after his mother was committed to an asylum. Violence visited her, harm irrevocaly changed her life, and she was never able to raise her own son, never spoke again to tell who was responsible.To read a Taylor Brown novel is to be drawn into the world he creates. His use of imagery, makes one feel as if they were actuall 1950's, South Carolina, the place Rory returns to after his service in Korea cost him the part of one leg. He returns to the mountain home of his granny, the women who raised him after his mother was committed to an asylum. Violence visited her, harm irrevocaly changed her life, and she was never able to raise her own son, never spoke again to tell who was responsible.To read a Taylor Brown novel is to be drawn into the world he creates. His use of imagery, makes one feel as if they were actually there, observing all that happens. His characters drawn authentically, real people with real problems, flaws, soft spots, hopes and dreams. In this novel it is the world of white lightening, bootleggers, the beginning of auto racing, my husband a huge NASCAR fan, I was familiar with part of this. Ardent churchgoers, snake handlers, not a big fan of snakes, revenue agents and corrupt sheriffs, all under the control of a man they refer to as the King of the Montain. A time when herbs and plants were used for healing, loved this part, learning how they were used. Where a family meant everything and where violence was a way of life. There is plenty of action, revenge factors, fast cars and a love interest, alot going on but woven semlessley into the narrative. I loved every minute if it, and could have read more.I have now read all three of this talented author's novels and enjoyed them all, though River of Kings is still my favorite. Haven't forgotten the horse though in Fallen Land. If you haven't experienced his novels yet, and you like gritty southern fiction mixed with great characters and some history thrown in, definitely give him a try. Don't think you'll be sorry.This was my monthly read with Esil and Angela and as always loved their viewpoints and treasure these reads.ARC from Edelweiss.
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  • Paromjit
    January 1, 1970
    This was my first read of Taylor Brown and I was simply bowled over by this multilayered historical southern, character driven, family drama. Brown beautifully and atmospherically evokes the mountainous Appalachians of North Carolina and its quirky, eccentric people and their secrets. Rory Docherty is back from the Korean War, with his troubled memories and pictures of death that haunt him. After losing his leg, he now makes his way with a wooden leg, which slows him down considerably. Work is s This was my first read of Taylor Brown and I was simply bowled over by this multilayered historical southern, character driven, family drama. Brown beautifully and atmospherically evokes the mountainous Appalachians of North Carolina and its quirky, eccentric people and their secrets. Rory Docherty is back from the Korean War, with his troubled memories and pictures of death that haunt him. After losing his leg, he now makes his way with a wooden leg, which slows him down considerably. Work is scarce and Rory is a bootlegger, a colourful profession that attracts federal agents. Rory's mother, Bonni, has been residing in an asylum where she has never uttered a word since a harrowing and brutal attack. Rory lives with the force of nature that is Maybelline, his implacable and unforgettable folk healer 'witch' Granny May, with an unrivalled reputation for her potions, herbs and medicines. Granny May has brought up Rory since his mother was incapable of doing so and held her tongue, keeping shattering family secrets. As Rory becomes fixated with the daughter of a snake handling preacher, Granny is less than happy, and when his life becomes endangered, she finds herself in a quandry, does she protect him or reveal the secrets of the past? As the narrative shifts from the past to the present, Brown presents a dark tale of violence, survival, deception, greed, revenge and death with its parallels in the Korean War. Brown writes in sublime poetic prose, with wonderful imagery and descriptions. The highlight of this novel is unquestionably the flawed and compelling characters and none more so than Granny May. Rory is indelibly marked by the war and death, his mind unable to forget as his demons wreak havoc. This is superb historical fiction, with its world of poverty, stock car racing, snakes, moonshine, preachers, love and adventure that captures the imagination of the reader with ease. A fantastic and highly recommended read. Many thanks to St Martin's Press for an ARC.
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  • Norma * Traveling Sister
    January 1, 1970
    Just because I loved this one so much thought I would update with.....Happy Publication Date to Taylor Brown!Wow!  This was my first book by Taylor Brown and I was totally blown away with how vividly descriptive and enjoyable this novel was!  This book quickly went into my favourite reads shelf for 2018!Update: Oh, and I forgot to mention that I LOVE that cover!!GODS OF HOWL MOUNTAIN by TAYLOR BROWN is a gritty, dark, intense, and compelling historical fiction novel that had me totally engaged, Just because I loved this one so much thought I would update with.....Happy Publication Date to Taylor Brown!Wow!  This was my first book by Taylor Brown and I was totally blown away with how vividly descriptive and enjoyable this novel was!  This book quickly went into my favourite reads shelf for 2018!Update: Oh, and I forgot to mention that I LOVE that cover!!GODS OF HOWL MOUNTAIN by TAYLOR BROWN is a gritty, dark, intense, and compelling historical fiction novel that had me totally engaged, entertained, and interested throughout the whole book.  I absolutely loved this book from start to finish!TAYLOR BROWN delivers a multi-layered story here that is so well-written, atmospheric, and so vividly descriptive that I felt like I was right there along with them in the mountains.  The characters were all so memorable and well-developed and I especially loved Granny May & Rory. To sum it all up it was an engrossing, interesting, unforgettable, and an enjoyable read with a wonderful ending. Would highly recommend!Thank you so much to my fellow Traveling Sisters for another wonderful reading experience!Publication date: March 20, 2018Thank you so much to NetGalley, St. Martin’s Press, and Taylor Brown for the opportunity to read an advanced copy of this book in exchange for a review! The Traveling Sisters Review and this review will be posted on our blog closer to publication date.All of Brenda and my reviews can be found on our Sister Blog:https://twogirlslostinacouleereading....
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  • Berit☀️✨Traveling Sister✨
    January 1, 1970
    4 sassy southern stars 🌟🌟🌟🌟This book was true southern grit lit (I didn’t even know that was a thing, but it sure does describe this book perfectly)... I really do enjoy southern Fiction.... the south seems to be very rich with fascinating history.....This was a character driven novel and I absolutely adored the characters in this book.... Granny May was the best! if I lived in the appellations in the 50s I’d want to be just like her.... without her past.... OK maybe I wouldn’t want to be just l 4 sassy southern stars 🌟🌟🌟🌟This book was true southern grit lit (I didn’t even know that was a thing, but it sure does describe this book perfectly)... I really do enjoy southern Fiction.... the south seems to be very rich with fascinating history.....This was a character driven novel and I absolutely adored the characters in this book.... Granny May was the best! if I lived in the appellations in the 50s I’d want to be just like her.... without her past.... OK maybe I wouldn’t want to be just like her, but she sure was an amazing and interesting character.... she told you how it was and was not politically correct in how she told you... she also dabbled in herbal healing which I found extremely interesting.... and which also made her neighbors believe she could possibly be a witch..... Rory her grandson who she raised because his mother had a breakdown of sorts was also an interesting character..... Home from the Korean war with scars both on the inside and out.... Rory believed if he found the answers to all of his questions he will find closure, but some answers lead to even more questions.....The pace of this book was a bit slow and I also found it a little wordy.... there was a lot going on moonshiners, stock car races, snake handling, love interest, secrets, family feud, etc. I think it all tied up neatly and nicely at the end..... however I spent a lot of the book a bit overwhelmed with everything that was going on....There are a lot of amazing reviews for this book and I really wish I loved it as much as others.... but for the reasons stated above I didn’t, I really liked it I just did not love it.... I would recommend if you are a fan of southern fiction, historical fiction, and very descriptive writing with some fun quirky characters thrown in....*** i’d like to thank the publisher and Net Galley for a copy of this book ***
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  • Linda
    January 1, 1970
    Spokes in the wheel......Rory Docherty finds himself, returning once again, as part of the irregular circle of that familiar wheel. People are "born hard" in Howl Mountain in North Carolina. It's the 1950's and Rory treads the backroads leaving one definitive footprint and the other a bit misshapened. Rory lost his foot in a bloody battle in the Korean War. Funny how one's identity gathers in a multitude of places.Granny May Docherty listens to the rhythmic sound of the rungs of her old rocking Spokes in the wheel......Rory Docherty finds himself, returning once again, as part of the irregular circle of that familiar wheel. People are "born hard" in Howl Mountain in North Carolina. It's the 1950's and Rory treads the backroads leaving one definitive footprint and the other a bit misshapened. Rory lost his foot in a bloody battle in the Korean War. Funny how one's identity gathers in a multitude of places.Granny May Docherty listens to the rhythmic sound of the rungs of her old rocking chair. The porch itself creaks with a whine. She puffs with the same beat from her pipe as she waits for the arrival of her grandson, Rory. Granny is called upon by the locals to bring comfort to what ails them through her concoctions of herbs, berries, and vines growing freely in the forest. But no poultice or bitter drink can form a remedy for what weighs upon Rory.Taylor Brown creates a palatable panorama of life in the rural mountains. Generation upon generation pass the platter of poverty from one family to another. Just getting by is received as a winning day. Folks take to whiskey-running and other questionable means in order to put bread on the table. Bootlegging becomes a way of life and Rory, himself, takes to the road with concealed glass jars of the finest rattling in the back of his old vehicle. But as in life, be careful what you bargain for. That outstretched hand often contains a lump of hardened coal. Secrets will be revealed that snake in front of the past and they tend to have a suffocating effect. Just ask Rory and Granny.Brown's writing is almost like sitting in surround sound. The well-chosen words wrap themselves around one's senses evoking notes of time, place, and manner within this chiseled storyline. My favorite of his three novels is Fallen Land. That book stays with you long after the last page. Any book by Taylor Brown is a sumptuous feast for the mind.I received a copy of Gods of Howl Mountain through Goodreads Giveaways. My thanks to St. Martin's Press and to Taylor Brown for the opportunity.
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  • Debra
    January 1, 1970
    “Because dying’s better than wishing you had.”It's the 1950's and Rory Docherty has returned home from the Korean War with a wooden leg. It's hard to find good-paying legitimate work with a wooden leg, so Rory has become a whisky-runner. He makes deliveries to brothels, roadhouses, and private clients. Haunted by horrific dreams of the war, he lives with his grandmother, Maybelline “Granny May” Docherty. She is known for many things on the mountain, one of which is being a healer. People come to “Because dying’s better than wishing you had.”It's the 1950's and Rory Docherty has returned home from the Korean War with a wooden leg. It's hard to find good-paying legitimate work with a wooden leg, so Rory has become a whisky-runner. He makes deliveries to brothels, roadhouses, and private clients. Haunted by horrific dreams of the war, he lives with his grandmother, Maybelline “Granny May” Docherty. She is known for many things on the mountain, one of which is being a healer. People come to her for various cures and treatments but refuse to look at her as she walks down the street. Granny May raised Rory after his mother was admitted to an Asylum after a horrific attack that left her lover dead and robbed her of her ability to speak and raise her child. The identity of the attackers has never been known; however, Granny has been known to carry around in her pocket the eye of a man - could this be the guilty party?The whisky running has gained the attention of federal agents. Add into the mix stock car racing, romance, and a snake handling preacher and you have yourself an interesting novel full of quirky characters. There are a lot of secrets on Howl Mountain. Secrets that some want to keep a secret while there are others who desperately want to know the truth.“Sometimes when you get what you want, you don’t like it so much.”One of the things I really enjoyed about this book was the imagery. The descriptions are clear and evoked a feeling of being there. I felt as if I were there as a quiet observer watching everything that was happening in this novel: all the violence, the harsh words, the strutting around, etc. The imagery is really one of the stars in this book. I felt as if I was experiencing the action and not just reading it. This book is a beautifully written "gritty" southern novel which showcases a mountain where everyone knows everyone, where people vie for power, where past insults are not forgotten, wrongs need to be set right, where families have secrets and towns have healers and snake handlers. It's a rough environment - a dog eat dog type of community, if you will. The language/dialect fits the mood and the imagery in this book. This book has a melancholy feel to it. These people know poverty, they know crime, they know heartache, they know violence, they know love and they know how to survive.Granny May was my favorite character. She's a tough old broad as my Grandmother would say. She sits in her rocking chair smoking her pipe, another quiet observer of life on the Mountain. She has lived a hard life, has made hard decisions and has done what she feels is best to raise and protect her Grandson. She is a part of the Mountain and the mountain is part of her.There were times while I was reading this book that I forgot this book is set in the 1950's. Change the make of cars and the war Rory fought in and this could be a current day novel (perhaps exchange the whisky running for some other recreations drug).I also enjoyed the sections that slowly unfolded telling the story of Rory's Mother and her lover. I thought this was a very nice touch. I also enjoyed how writing was different. Not just the script but in the prose. I really appreciated this as it helped set these sections apart and shows their significance to the current story.Gritty, raw and beautifully written. This isn't a happy go lucky book, but it's a damn good one!Thank you to St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. See more of my reviews at www.openbookpost.com
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  • Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
    January 1, 1970
    5 gritty, vivid, whiskey-running stars to Gods of Howl Mountain 🥃 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 Have you ever heard of the Carolina parakeet, a now extinct colorful bird native to North Carolina? It plays a role in this book, and I have an interesting, but sad, connection to that beautiful bird. I had a beloved parakeet named Freddy as a child. We used to let Freddy out of his cage to fly around the house (I know! 👀 Recipe for disaster, right?!). One day I opened the door to take my bike outside, and Freddy flew ou 5 gritty, vivid, whiskey-running stars to Gods of Howl Mountain 🥃 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 Have you ever heard of the Carolina parakeet, a now extinct colorful bird native to North Carolina? It plays a role in this book, and I have an interesting, but sad, connection to that beautiful bird. I had a beloved parakeet named Freddy as a child. We used to let Freddy out of his cage to fly around the house (I know! 👀 Recipe for disaster, right?!). One day I opened the door to take my bike outside, and Freddy flew out. To my horror, and through streams of tears, I saw him on the power line looking down at me. On top of the dismay of losing him, I just knew Freddy wouldn’t make it out in the wild. Enter the legend of the Carolina parakeet that my dad told me. It was just enough for that little girl to believe that maybe/hopefully Freddy survived. (...and I didn’t know the bird was already extinct, and Google didn’t exist yet, but I digress...) Well, this whole thing was a digression! On to the book! 💕 Gods of Howl Mountain, my first book from Taylor Brown, was in a league of its own. Brown specializes in descriptive, dark prose. I’ve lived in North Carolina most of my life, the state where the book took place. While I have not personally witnessed a setting or people like those in this book, I was nevertheless fully and completely transported by Brown’s writing. The descriptions were a little clunky to read at times because I would stop to reflect, re-read, and pause just to visualize the imagery. I wish there had been a little more flow to the writing, but the pay-off of the vivid perception was worth it for me. Granny May and Rory were two of the most endearing, complex characters I’ve come across. They were both hard and beyond rugged around the edges, but with the purest of hearts. Even secondary characters were completely fleshed out like Eli, Bonni, and Eustace. Historical fiction is my favorite genre because I always learn something new. Rory’s experience in his short time in the Korean War was both tragic and enlightening. The dangerous whiskey-running 🥃 business was something I knew next to nothing about. Granny May’s interest in herbs and healing was fascinating. If I had to pick the one area where this book excelled the most, it would be the characters. If you enjoy descriptive books with some of the best characterization around, don’t miss Gods of Howl Mountain!This was a Traveling Sister read, and as always it was a pleasure discussing this book. ♥️ Please check out Norma and Brenda’s amazing blog for more reviews: https://twogirlslostinacouleereading....Gods of Howl Mountain will be published on March 20, 2018. Thank you to Taylor Brown, St. Martin’s Press, and Netgalley for the complimentary copy to review.
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  • Mary Beth *Traveling Sister*
    January 1, 1970
    I love the bookcover!Rory was in the Korean War and he was a Korean War Vet. He comes back home to Howl Mountain with a wooden leg. The time is 1952. The story takes place in the mountains of North Carolina. Rory is now living with his Granny May. His Mom had something terrible happen to her and she is in a mental hospital and she can not speak. This is a mystery to Rory, and he wants to find out why she is locked up in the mental institution, which he finds out is a dark family secret. When Ro I love the bookcover!Rory was in the Korean War and he was a Korean War Vet. He comes back home to Howl Mountain with a wooden leg. The time is 1952. The story takes place in the mountains of North Carolina. Rory is now living with his Granny May. His Mom had something terrible happen to her and she is in a mental hospital and she can not speak. This is a mystery to Rory, and he wants to find out why she is locked up in the mental institution, which he finds out is a dark family secret. When Rory's life is threatened, Granny May must decide whether to reveal what she knows or to protect Rory from the past. Rory runs bootleg whiskey in a 40's Ford white Coupe. His Granny May is a folk healer, whose powers are rumored to rival those of a wood witch. She concocts potions potions for the people of the mountains. Rory falls for Christine, who is the pastor daughter. Her father is a snake handling preacher. Rory also gets into stock car racing. This is a historical fictional novel plus Southern Grit Lit which is written in beautiful prose. This is one of my favorite genre' s. The beautiful writing is so descriptive that I actually thought that I was there in the mountains. The writing was so vivid that I could vision everything. He paints a beautiful picture while he writes. Taylor Brown's writing brings this book to life. I really loved also how he described the mountain's and the nature surrounding it. The story has a slow burn to the first half, then it gets better and better. It is gritty and dark. It is a very well crafted story and I loved it!This is a character driven novel and the characters were done very well. I thought they were fantastic. I loved Granny May the best and also loved Rory. There are also some gritty characters too.I highly recommend this book to those that love Southern Grit Lit and historical fiction novels.I want to thank NetGalley, St. Martin's Press and Taylor Brown for the copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Shelby *trains flying monkeys*
    January 1, 1970
    After reading two other books by this author and not connecting with them I had said I wasn't going to try him again.I lied.Or more likely I forgot I said it. BUT look at that cover! *drools*And that blurb had me from hello. And I didn't hate it! It is the story of a former Korean War vet named Rory who has come home to his mountains and is running whiskey through those mountains. He lives at home with his Granny May. Granny May I love you! Granny May used to be a whore..she gave that up after h After reading two other books by this author and not connecting with them I had said I wasn't going to try him again.I lied.Or more likely I forgot I said it. BUT look at that cover! *drools*And that blurb had me from hello. And I didn't hate it! It is the story of a former Korean War vet named Rory who has come home to his mountains and is running whiskey through those mountains. He lives at home with his Granny May. Granny May I love you! Granny May used to be a whore..she gave that up after her daughter had some bad stuff happen that caused her to end up in the local mental hospital with no voice. After she stops the whoring she becomes the local go to person for all the old time folk healing. Granny is the best! She gives the grandson advice..."Don't wed 'em till they spread 'em son. There's words to live by. Any girl wants Jesus in her more than you, something ain't right.".This book has so much of my favorite stuff to read about...moonshine, folk healing, violence and even throw in a church of snake healers. Yes, please.The only thing I can say bad about it is the fact that FOR ME this author writes so flowery that it tends to take away from his books subjects. There is dark stuff happening in them and the pretty language messes with my simple mind. However, I enjoyed this one enough that I'll sign up for his next book. 3.5 stars.Booksource: Netgalley in exchange for review.
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  • Susanne Strong
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 Stars* (rounded down) It was a time of whiskey runs, bootlegging and herbal medicines and potions used to aid those in need. On Howl Mountain, the living was hard. Granny May Docherty all but lost her daughter years ago in a horrible incident. Now her daughter lives is in a hospital, mute and unresponsive. Granny May has done what she had to do to survive and though most everyone judges her for it - most use her services for something or other. Rory Docherty came home from the Korean War a c 3.5 Stars* (rounded down) It was a time of whiskey runs, bootlegging and herbal medicines and potions used to aid those in need. On Howl Mountain, the living was hard. Granny May Docherty all but lost her daughter years ago in a horrible incident. Now her daughter lives is in a hospital, mute and unresponsive. Granny May has done what she had to do to survive and though most everyone judges her for it - most use her services for something or other. Rory Docherty came home from the Korean War a changed man. Hardened, Remote and an Amputee. If he thought life was hard before, he was wrong. In the “Gods of Howl Mountain” Granny May and Rory Docherty encounter their past and try to move forward in a world where life ain’t easy. Every breath hurts. Taylor Brown uses extremely vivid, lengthy and powerful descriptions to provide the reader with the time, place and the feeling each character experiences. For me however, I had to keep reading each description a few times to get to the heart of the story and those descriptions took something away from the storyline. Once I was able to do that however, I truly enjoyed the characters of Granny May and Rory. They had heart, lots of gumption and were both fiercely protective of family. What more could you ask for? Thank you to NetGalley, Taylor Brown and St. Martin’s Press for an ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review. Published on NetGalley and Goodreads on 2.3.18. *Will be published on Amazon on 3.20.18.
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  • Carol
    January 1, 1970
    If you like prominent descriptive prose, you're going to love Taylor Brown and his new offering....GODS OF HOWL MOUNTAIN!Set in the high country of 1950's North Carolina amidst bootleggers and folk healers, there are secrets to discover, battles to be won and a mystery to solve.Combined with engrossing characters like the pipe-smoking Granny May with her potions and fearless ways....Rory, her disabled grandson with his nightmares of war torn bodies on the Korean battlefield....AND his mother Bon If you like prominent descriptive prose, you're going to love Taylor Brown and his new offering....GODS OF HOWL MOUNTAIN!Set in the high country of 1950's North Carolina amidst bootleggers and folk healers, there are secrets to discover, battles to be won and a mystery to solve.Combined with engrossing characters like the pipe-smoking Granny May with her potions and fearless ways....Rory, her disabled grandson with his nightmares of war torn bodies on the Korean battlefield....AND his mother Bonni who lives in a world all her own, GODS OF HOWL MOUNTAIN makes for a very entertaining read!This is my third TB novel; FALLEN LAND still my personal favorite!Many thanks to St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for this ARC....COMING MARCH, 2018....in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Arah-Lynda
    January 1, 1970
    BOOM! And just like that Taylor Brown knocks it out of the park.The machine started at dusk, headlights slashing their way down the old switchbacks that ribbed the mountain’s slopes, thunder and echo of thunder vaulting through the ridges and hollers on every side. The road sawed down out of high country, angling against valleys welled with darkness, past ridges hewn by dynamite, at times following the pale sinews of logging roads that lashed these hills half a century before. It poured ever ea BOOM! And just like that Taylor Brown knocks it out of the park.The machine started at dusk, headlights slashing their way down the old switchbacks that ribbed the mountain’s slopes, thunder and echo of thunder vaulting through the ridges and hollers on every side. The road sawed down out of high country, angling against valleys welled with darkness, past ridges hewn by dynamite, at times following the pale sinews of logging roads that lashed these hills half a century before. It poured ever east, the motor thrumming long miles through the darkening country of the foothills, the machine leaving in its wake a ghost of dust that settled on mailboxes and ranging cattle and tobacco fields already reaped. The road fell and fell again , surrendering to the speed of the machine, the fire of the engine, while stars wheeled out over the land. The machine is a retrofitted 40s Ford coupe. It is 1952 and Rory, recently returned from the Korean war, well most of him anyway, is making a run down Howl Mountain in North Carolina.The first chapter of this story held my breath captive for such long intervals that I was left gasping for air. Seriously it grabbed me by the throat and sat me down in that machine as we roared down Howl Mountain. There I was with Rory, ever descending, as our destination loomed ever closer. End -of-the-road, they called it.Then I met Granny May. And there I was, just another fickle reader. Most the folk in these hills knew Granny May. They knew where to go if they needed a potion or a brew, a poultice, a sweet smoke or what a young woman might need were she caught frisky and unprotected. Granny May had paid her dues in these hills, she knew what they needed; where and how to get it. But dont let all these healing ways lull you into thinking her soft.. She is not and believe me, her love is fierce. Rory is her grandson.Let me tell you Brown connected me to these two characters, so completely and with such seeming ease that I, myself became shocked at the depth of my feeling for them. It was like I, well, just got them, you know, understood these people I had never met, understood and acknowledged their plight.And don't even get me started on the spiritual. Not in these hills. Just add God, a fervent preacher, a rattlesnake or three and stir.A spirit tree.Multicolored glass bottles, too many to count, dangled from the branches on tied strings. The evils come skulking over the far hills, out of the lightless hollers and dry wells - the bottles captured such spirits. Contained them. Kept them out of the house, out of her grandson’s dreams and heart. When the wind came sawing across the meadow, you could hear them moaning in their bottles, trapped. The spirits were mean, she thought, but they weren’t very smart. Since returning from Korea, things have not been easy or particularly welcoming for Rory. He does what he can and must do to make ends meet here in these hills. But there are those not so kind to anyone with a handicap. Especially a whore’s son. Shhhh, I had me a little crush on Eli.Woot! Woot! Woot!Coming soon to a bookstore near you. (Mar 20, 2018) Don’t miss it.My thanks to St. Martin’s Press, Netgalley and Taylor Brown for the opportunity to read and review this book.
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  • Cheri
    January 1, 1970
    !! NOW AVAILABLE !!”When you can't find the lightThat got you through the cloudy daysWhen the stars ain't shinin' brightYou feel like you've lost you're wayWhen the candlelight of homeBurns so very far awayWell, you got to let your soul shineJust like my daddy used to say“He used to say soulshineIt's better than sunshineIt's better than moonshineDamn sure better than rain“I grew up thinkin' I had it madeGonna make it on my ownLife can take the strongest manMake him feel so alone“Now sometimes I !! NOW AVAILABLE !!”When you can't find the lightThat got you through the cloudy daysWhen the stars ain't shinin' brightYou feel like you've lost you're wayWhen the candlelight of homeBurns so very far awayWell, you got to let your soul shineJust like my daddy used to say“He used to say soulshineIt's better than sunshineIt's better than moonshineDamn sure better than rain“I grew up thinkin' I had it madeGonna make it on my ownLife can take the strongest manMake him feel so alone“Now sometimes I feel a cold windBlowin' through my achin' bonesI think back to what my daddy saidHe said "boy, in this darkness before the dawn"Let your soul shineIt's better than sunshineIt's better than moonshineDamn sure better than rainYeah, now people don't mindWe all get this way sometimesYou've got to let your soul shine, shine till the break of day.”-- Lyrics by Warren Haynes, “Soulshine” The Allman Brothers BandFall 1952 ”The road sawed down out of the high country, angling against valleys welled with darkness, past ridges hewn by dynamite, at times following the pale sinews of logging roads that lashed these hills half a century before. It poured ever east, the motor thrumming long miles through the darkening country of the foothills, the machine leaving in its wake a ghost of dust that settled on mailboxes and ranging cattle and tobacco field already reaped. “ Set in the hills of North Carolina, ”Gods of Howl Mountain” is another testament to Taylor Brown’s talent for weaving a tale that is filled with darkness, and yet and abundance of love and light; a tale that is an ode to the splendor of nature, as well as its perils; a tale of moonshine and madness, of love lost and perhaps found.After serving in the Korean War, Rory Docherty returns to his home in the mountains of North Carolina carrying with him his nightmares of his time there, and leaving behind part of his leg. The options in 1952 left him with a wooden prosthetic leg, as well as the associated pain. With limited options for employment, he becomes a moonshine runner, working for Eustice, and evading the law. And so Rory returns to live with his grandmother, “Granny May”, Maybelline Docherty. Though he remembers his grandfather fondly, he had passed on years before, and he has never lived with his mother, Bonni, never even heard her voice. She was institutionalized before he was born, and she has not spoken since the incident that led to her placement there. But Rory and Granny May share their very humble abode without problems, without poking and prodding into their personal lives – for the most part.Granny May is quite the character, a woman who has a spirit tree to capture and keep the spirits out their home, out of their dreams, out of their lives. She is also familiar with the natural cures for many things also, herbs, a healer, a maker of homemade potions, remedies. Of course, this is also the land where churches abound, and so a preacher, and the daughter of the preacher enter into the picture. Followed by snakes, greed, hostility, drag racing and some good old-fashioned bloodshed. Time weaves forward and back again, through the thoughts of both Rory and Granny May, and the journal entries from Bonni, as well. Like a crazy patchwork quilt pieced together with thoughts, fears, hopes, dreams, and memories, it is only when it is finally pieced together that you can truly appreciate the vision of the exceptional talent that brought it all together. This is Taylor Brown’s fourth book. I’ve read all four, beginning with his debut with ‘In the Season of Blood and Gold,’ a collection of short stories, followed by ’Fallen Land’, ’A River of Kings,’ and now ’Gods of Howl Mountain.’ While ’Fallen Land’ has a special place in my heart, it’s impossible for me to pick a ‘best of’ his books. They’re all lovely, wonderful, atmospheric, richly compelling stories, and ’Gods of Howl Mountain’ is no exception. RecommendedPub Date: 20 Mar 2018Many thanks for the ARC provided by St. Martin’s Press
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  • Liz
    January 1, 1970
    4.5 starsWow!! Talk about being able to set a scene and paint a picture. I’ve never read anything by Taylor Brown before. But we are talking some serious wordsmithing here. The North Carolina Mountains of the 1950s are their own world. It’s a world of bootleggers, snake handling preachers, racing and herbalists. Rory Docherty now sports a wooden leg from his time in the Korean War but that doesn’t stop him from running bootleg whiskey in his 1940 Ford coupe. His grandmother is an herbalist who’s 4.5 starsWow!! Talk about being able to set a scene and paint a picture. I’ve never read anything by Taylor Brown before. But we are talking some serious wordsmithing here. The North Carolina Mountains of the 1950s are their own world. It’s a world of bootleggers, snake handling preachers, racing and herbalists. Rory Docherty now sports a wooden leg from his time in the Korean War but that doesn’t stop him from running bootleg whiskey in his 1940 Ford coupe. His grandmother is an herbalist who’s been compared to a witch. She calls herself an old woman but I do the math and realize she’s younger than me. But she’s lived a hard life. “Death presided over these lands like an entity itself, a thousand shreds of the same dread spirit just looking for an opening, a wound or weakness of character. Once in, it was tough to get out.” It’s not necessarily a fast paced book. But enough going on to keep your interest. Flashbacks to The Korean War give you Rory’s backstory. And chapters about Rory’s mother are interspersed with the more current story. And when things really wind up at the end, it’s all you can do to hang on.My thanks to netgalley and St. Martin’s Press for an advance copy of this book.
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  • Esil
    January 1, 1970
    Gods of Howl Mountain was the first book I've read by Taylor Brown. He has a very distinctive style and sensibility. Set in the mountains of North Carolina in the 1950s, Brown portrays an insular world with its own rules and sense of justice. This is a gritty story full of moonshine, home remedies, corruption, car racing, dark religion and rough justice. The story is focused on Rory and his Granny. Rory is a recent Korean War veteran, who lost part of his leg in the war and now runs moonshine fo Gods of Howl Mountain was the first book I've read by Taylor Brown. He has a very distinctive style and sensibility. Set in the mountains of North Carolina in the 1950s, Brown portrays an insular world with its own rules and sense of justice. This is a gritty story full of moonshine, home remedies, corruption, car racing, dark religion and rough justice. The story is focused on Rory and his Granny. Rory is a recent Korean War veteran, who lost part of his leg in the war and now runs moonshine for a living. He lives with his Granny -- portrayed as old but only 54 years old! -- who is tough as nails. In the background is a violent incident that happened many years ago that led to Rory's mother becoming silent and living in an asylum. It's a short book, but there are many intertwined narratives strands leading to a dramatic ending. I really enjoyed Brown's writing. It's a real talent to be so descriptive while keeping the story moving so swiftly. I absolutely loved Rory and Granny as characters -- Brown does not fall into the trap of depicting stereotypical southern mountain dwellers, but rather he has created fully dimensional complicated people. Where the story waned a bit for me is that at times it became too action packed -- car races and hard scrabble fights aren't really my thing. But this is a minor criticism. Overall, this was an excellent read and I will look for Brown's earlier books.One warning: you may not want to read this one if snakes freak you out. Lots of snakes...Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for an opportunity to read an advance copy. (This one won't be published until March 2018.)And thanks to Diane and Angela for another excellent buddy read and for introducing me to Taylor Brown.
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  • JanB
    January 1, 1970
    4.5 stars**I received a copy of this book through the Goodreads giveaway program. Publication date is March 20, 2018This is Southern Grit Lit at its best. Atmospheric and full of intrigue and action, there’s the cut-throat business of whiskey running, secrets galore, vengeance, herbal folk healing, snake-handling preachers, brothels, lawless lawmen, violence, and mountain justice, all delivered with a prose that makes you feel as if you are right there in the midst of it. Life was hard and the p 4.5 stars**I received a copy of this book through the Goodreads giveaway program. Publication date is March 20, 2018This is Southern Grit Lit at its best. Atmospheric and full of intrigue and action, there’s the cut-throat business of whiskey running, secrets galore, vengeance, herbal folk healing, snake-handling preachers, brothels, lawless lawmen, violence, and mountain justice, all delivered with a prose that makes you feel as if you are right there in the midst of it. Life was hard and the people resourceful and willing to do whatever it took to survive.The setting is the mountains of NC in the 1950’s. It’s a rough life for Rory, a Korean War vet who lost a leg in battle, and his grandmother, Granny May, who share a cabin on Howl Mountain. Rory’s mother Bonni, is in a mental health facility, struck mute after a horrific incident in her past. The story of what took place that long ago day unfolds slowly. I loved the how the author wove the story of Bonni’s life with short pages interspersed throughout the book. I loved both Rory and Granny May. Granny is a tough old bird and quite the character. One I won’t soon forget!I read this book with the Traveling Sisters. Their review of this book and others can be found on their blog at:https://twogirlslostinacouleereading....
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  • Bam
    January 1, 1970
    One of my favorite books of 2017 was If The Creek Don't Rise, set in the remote hills of North Carolina in 1970. Now here I am again, absolutely loving another work of historical fiction set in the hills of NC, this time in the fall of 1952. Ex-Marine Rory Docherty has returned from the Korean conflict missing his left leg below the knee, but that hasn't stopped him from running moonshine down into the valley below in his souped-up car for the big boss Eustace. Rory lives in the hills with his G One of my favorite books of 2017 was If The Creek Don't Rise, set in the remote hills of North Carolina in 1970. Now here I am again, absolutely loving another work of historical fiction set in the hills of NC, this time in the fall of 1952. Ex-Marine Rory Docherty has returned from the Korean conflict missing his left leg below the knee, but that hasn't stopped him from running moonshine down into the valley below in his souped-up car for the big boss Eustace. Rory lives in the hills with his Granny May who is not anything like the granny in the Beverly Hillbillies. Yes, she loves her porch rocking chair and her corncob pipe, but what's in that pipe, eh? And how did she earn her living and support her family after her husband came back from the great war in a pine box? She's been taking care of Rory all his life--especially since his mother Bonni was put in an asylum. She went a little crazy after her lover was beaten to death before her very eyes and hasn't spoken a word since. But she did manage to pluck an eye from one of the hooded attackers; that probably saved her life. This is my first taste of Taylor Brown's writing and I am hooked. His descriptions are gorgeous, putting you right there in those hills as the leaves turn to gold. And there you are riding along for some pretty exciting action as Rory zooms around those switchbacks, trying to avoid being caught by the revenue men. Brown has created some terrific, eccentric characters who really come to life in these pages. And Rory finds time for a little romance when he meets Christine, Pastor Adderholt's daughter, at one of those church meetings where people speak in tongues and pass around a rattle snake. Lordy! Some vintage Scruggs and Flatt music you might enjoy listening to while reading: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EjLyV...Thank you to NetGalley, Taylor Brown and St Martin's for providing me with an arc of this excellent new book. My first 5-star read of 2018!*Buddy read for the NetGalley Readers group, January, 2018. After seeing the author's tintype photo, I couldn't help but picture Rory as looking like Taylor Brown. :)
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  • Marialyce
    January 1, 1970
    4.5 wonderfully written stars Life in the fifties in this mountain community was vividly portrayed by Taylor Brown. Coming back from war is always difficult. To return to the normalcy of life is a task many face, witnessing the horribleness of war, time, the smell of death, the toll it takes on your mind, heart and soul.For Rory Docherty, coming back home also meant coming back to the rural mountains of his birth. He has lost a leg to war, and returns to a place where both an internal and extern 4.5 wonderfully written stars Life in the fifties in this mountain community was vividly portrayed by Taylor Brown. Coming back from war is always difficult. To return to the normalcy of life is a task many face, witnessing the horribleness of war, time, the smell of death, the toll it takes on your mind, heart and soul.For Rory Docherty, coming back home also meant coming back to the rural mountains of his birth. He has lost a leg to war, and returns to a place where both an internal and external war rages. His community is one of boot legging, souped up car racing, whiskey running, filled with the aura of mysticism and folklore.For his grandmother, Granny May, a former prostitute, folk healer, and woman who tells it like it is, having her grandson home is both a blessing and a curse. You see Granny has carried a secret kept from Rory about his mother Bonnie, who after an awful experience is left dumb, never to utter a word. She is in a facility where care is provided but words from her are never uttered. Granny loves her grandson. She is a hard woman bent by years of a difficult life, honed from the mountains she came from, but buoyed by her spirit and hardness. She is tough , she is witty, and she is ready to lay down her life for the boy she loves.The folk of the town, are a mixture of hard living, hard driving, whiskey running people. They live rough, they talk rough, they are mountain people. They keep the outside world at bay by holding their secrets close and their guns even closer. Rory meets a girl, Christine, the daughter of a snake handling preacher. He is attracted to her. Granny does not approve and says that some things need to be buried. As we see Rory fight off federal agents, a rival whiskey runner, and secrets, he falls for Christine and is drawn to the church where the preacher and the congregation believe in the power of the serpent to free your soul and make one commune with the spirit of god.The story is riveting and the author makes you one with his characters, the surroundings, and life in this unrefined environment where people flock to Granny May for her healing potions and where life is ever so different from what one might have considered normal in the '50s. Mesmerizing language, followed by mesmerizing people make this tale atmospheric and moody and holds the reader in suspense as all is revealed. This is a gritty novel as gritty as the people that are portrayed and one that invites the reader into a world that they knew little aboutThank you to the sisters who read this novel with me. Our discussions always provide me with insights and meanings I never would have thought of without your guidance.Thank you also to the author, the publisher, and edelweiss for providing an arc of this book for an unbiased review.
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  • Bkwmlee
    January 1, 1970
    This book is a hard one to rate. Based on literary merit alone, I would say this one deserves at least 4 stars for its incredibly atmospheric, descriptive writing that made me feel like, from the very first paragraph, I was being transported deep into the mountains of 1950s North Carolina, into the world inhabited by a one-legged whiskey runner named Rory and his feisty folk-healer grandmother Maybelline (Granny May). Throughout the story, there was a generous amount of vivid description that of This book is a hard one to rate. Based on literary merit alone, I would say this one deserves at least 4 stars for its incredibly atmospheric, descriptive writing that made me feel like, from the very first paragraph, I was being transported deep into the mountains of 1950s North Carolina, into the world inhabited by a one-legged whiskey runner named Rory and his feisty folk-healer grandmother Maybelline (Granny May). Throughout the story, there was a generous amount of vivid description that often spanned several paragraphs, at times even several pages, of everything from the smallest minutiae to major plot points and character developments. I always appreciate descriptive writing, especially the kind that is immersive and makes the reader feel as though we are right there beside the characters, feeling what they are feeling, experiencing what they are experiencing – indeed, the writing here was gorgeous, even lyrical in places, and as I don’t read Southern fiction very often, plus I grew up on the West Coast in a big city, the many lush descriptions of the countryside and mountain region really helped establish time and place and put the entire story into perspective for me.With that said however, this was not an easy read by any means -- even though I loved the writing, I found myself struggling through much of the story. The lyrical nature of the prose coupled with the descriptiveness already made this a challenging read in that there were parts where it was nearly impossible to understand what was going on without re-reading passages and then taking the time to absorb what I had just read. I’ve never been a fast reader, but for this one, I felt like I had to slow down my reading by several notches, which wouldn’t normally be too big of an issue except that in this case, I wasn’t particularly keen on the subject matter of the book. This was a dark, gritty, violent story that revolved around whiskey, bootlegging, and auto-racing (though on a deeper level it was also about love, revenge, buried secrets, loyalty, family, the long term effects of war, etc.) – this type of subject matter I’m not generally interested in, so at some point, especially in the second half of the book, I started to lose patience with the overly descriptive style (or perhaps it was exhaustion from how laborious this felt to read) and so I found myself skimming quite a bit near the end.In terms of the characters – I actually did like most of the characters in this and for me, Rory and Granny May were two of the most complex and well-developed characters I’ve encountered in a while in a work of fiction. However, I still found it difficult to connect with these characters as well as everyone else in the story – the emotional element was mostly lacking for me.Overall, I would say that I did like parts of this one, but as a whole, this book probably wasn’t for me. I’m still willing to give this author’s other books a try though, as I truly do like his writing style – perhaps with different subject matter, I may be able to connect with the story more next time. Received ARC from St. Martin’s Press via NetGalley
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  • Carolyn
    January 1, 1970
    I've never really enjoyed novels set in the bootlegging mountains of Southern USA before with the often hard nosed, amoral types of characters they depict. However, the writing in this novel is so good and the characters lives and motives so well laid out that it's hard not to engage with the story. Sure there are some tough, gritty characters who are often violent but it was the 1950s and to survive in the back country despite little education and poverty wasn't easy.Rory Docherty is back from I've never really enjoyed novels set in the bootlegging mountains of Southern USA before with the often hard nosed, amoral types of characters they depict. However, the writing in this novel is so good and the characters lives and motives so well laid out that it's hard not to engage with the story. Sure there are some tough, gritty characters who are often violent but it was the 1950s and to survive in the back country despite little education and poverty wasn't easy.Rory Docherty is back from the Korean war where he saw atrocities he would rather forget. He also left a foot behind and has learnt to walk and drive with a wooden leg. He makes a living bootlegging moonshine and lives with Granny May who brought him up after his mother Bonni suffered a major trauma and lost her voice and possibly her wits. Bonni now lives in a nursing home and has been unable to speak about the day her life was shattered but Rory lives in hope of working out who is to blame and avenging her. Fortunately for Rory, Granny May is the granny every boy needs fighting on his side, fiercely protective and constantly looking out for him. She makes her living preparing herbal remedies for everyone who comes to her door with their ailments or problems and knows everybody's business. Taylor Brown has written a very atmospheric book full of bootlegging, stock racing and Pentecostal snake handling. The prose is rich and evocative and the mountains take on a life of their own as Rory takes on the government agents who have no chance of catching him and his load of whisky in his super charged car. Bonni's story is told in small instalments through the novel as she falls in love with the mill owner's gentle son and resonates in the dramatic and violent ending.With thanks to Netgalley and the publisher St Martin's Press for a digital copy of this book to read
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  • Cathrine ☯️
    January 1, 1970
    4✚ 🥃 🥃 🥃 🥃sAppalachian Rhapsody.Taylor Brown had me wrapped around his writing pinkie from the get-go. Vivid characters, addictive storytelling, and white lightening prose went down in straight shots ricocheting up to my brain triggering all the reading reward circuits.Is there a slamming-the-shot-glass-down emoji? Can I get a chaser!I’m also bestowing a best character award for Granny May Docherty, a woman after my own heart. Can I get an Amen!I could be sad it's over but I haven’t read the man 4✚ 🥃 🥃 🥃 🥃sAppalachian Rhapsody.Taylor Brown had me wrapped around his writing pinkie from the get-go. Vivid characters, addictive storytelling, and white lightening prose went down in straight shots ricocheting up to my brain triggering all the reading reward circuits.Is there a slamming-the-shot-glass-down emoji? Can I get a chaser!I’m also bestowing a best character award for Granny May Docherty, a woman after my own heart. Can I get an Amen!I could be sad it's over but I haven’t read the man’s first novel yet. Hot Damn!
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  • Tammy
    January 1, 1970
    Brown’s writing is nothing short of cinematic. This is my first experience with Brown and I am impressed. Rory returns from the Korean War (minus a leg) to his potion-concocting Granny May and Appalachian mountain home. He runs whiskey, races stock cars and falls in love. Buried secrets of the past inform the present. Of course, nothing remains buried forever. This is a gritty Southern novel that I mostly enjoyed. The stock car racing scenes, while well written, just didn’t interest me. However, Brown’s writing is nothing short of cinematic. This is my first experience with Brown and I am impressed. Rory returns from the Korean War (minus a leg) to his potion-concocting Granny May and Appalachian mountain home. He runs whiskey, races stock cars and falls in love. Buried secrets of the past inform the present. Of course, nothing remains buried forever. This is a gritty Southern novel that I mostly enjoyed. The stock car racing scenes, while well written, just didn’t interest me. However, I will always remember Granny May.
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  • Brenda - Traveling Sister
    January 1, 1970
    I read Gods of Howl Mountain with six of my Traveling Sisters and this one turned out to be a very interesting sister read as we were split into two very different coulees with very different views on this one. At times I was wondering if we were even reading the same book. For five of the Traveling Sisters including Norma they were lost in the dewy meadows of the lush coulee while one other TS and I were lost in the looming darkness of the rocky dry coulee looking for some of that moonshine to I read Gods of Howl Mountain with six of my Traveling Sisters and this one turned out to be a very interesting sister read as we were split into two very different coulees with very different views on this one. At times I was wondering if we were even reading the same book. For five of the Traveling Sisters including Norma they were lost in the dewy meadows of the lush coulee while one other TS and I were lost in the looming darkness of the rocky dry coulee looking for some of that moonshine to tie us over for this read. Gods of Howl Mountain is a dark, gritty, atmospheric southern family drama with beautifully written vivid descriptions of place and time. This was the biggest difference between the two coulees as some of us were drawn into the wordy imagery while the rest of us found the descriptions so lengthy and it bogged down the story for us. The TS in the lush coulee found this one fast-paced with plenty of action while the TS in the dry coulee found it slow-paced with not much interesting happening. We all agree that Taylor Brown does a great job creating some interesting and likable flawed characters here with Rory and Granny May who both are haunted by their past. We get glimpses into their past and see what hidden secrets haunt them and what ones Granny May needs to reveal. At times we could feel a storm rolling in along with the roar of those stock cars revving up that created some excitement and tension for Norma and some of the TS with the racing cars scenes. For me and my remaining TS we were left content finding cover with our moonshine. Norma and I still highly recommend this one as we think that our TS sister and I will be staying alone in our dry coulee. Published on March 20, 2018 Thank you so much to NetGalley, St. Martin’s Press, and Taylor Brown for the opportunity to read and review this books. All of our Traveling Sisters Reviews can be found on our sister blog:http://www.twogirlslostinacouleereadi...
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  • Paul Falk
    January 1, 1970
    This ARC was was received complements of NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review. Gratitude sent to St. Martin's Press for allowing this pre-release to be made available.I have a soft spot reserved for history served up Americana style, especially, the early to mid part of the 20th century. This novel stood boldly defiant in the face of bootleggers, thieves and scoundrels scattered throughout the mountains of North Carolina. So grab your scattergun and get ready for the ride of your life. A This ARC was was received complements of NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review. Gratitude sent to St. Martin's Press for allowing this pre-release to be made available.I have a soft spot reserved for history served up Americana style, especially, the early to mid part of the 20th century. This novel stood boldly defiant in the face of bootleggers, thieves and scoundrels scattered throughout the mountains of North Carolina. So grab your scattergun and get ready for the ride of your life. Adequate time had been devoted to the main characters that were well-drawn out. Fully-developed scenes followed an action-driven storyline that kept my eyes glued to the print. The ending came with no disappointment. A shot of adrenaline delivered with a sonic boom. No way around It, Taylor Brown penned an entertaining narrative deserving of attention.Recovering Korean War veteran Rory Docherty had returned home to Howl Mountain, North Carolina. A piece of him left behind. His foot. It had sustained damage beyond repair. The result of an enemy hand grenade that had his name on it. A memento of the war had left him with a nagging, aching peg leg. Still painful were the ever present demons of war that continually invaded his mind. You can leave the war...In simpler times, long before the ADA, back in 52', there was little work for a one-legged man. Not looking for any handouts, Rory took what he could find. Immediate employment took him back in the lucrative, family business - moonshining. Delivery and collections. Tiger spit, so it was called by some, hailed at 120 proof. That'll do it. Happy to be working, though, not exactly the career move he had in mind.Every business had it's competition and bootlegging was no exception. It was not uncommon in those parts to see blood spilled with the hopes of closing down a competitor. Cutthroat business. Tempers raged and guns blazed. Welcome home soldier.Along the clients delivery route, Rory met a green-eyed girl who stole his heart and soul. Lust at first sight. She belonged to a fierce competitor. Not off to a great start. A conundrum in the making. Hope for the best but plan for the worst. He could never get her out of his mind. Only time would tell.To further complicate matters, the government revenuers were always in pursuit of the bootleggers. It was a cat-and-mouse game. Their mission was simple. Shut them all down. No matter what it took. Easier said than done. Many times their encounters ended in deadly violence. For many of the mountain people, it was all they knew. Either continue to eat or starve. Not much of an option.Since his return, Rory found himself face-to-face with a despicable character. The son of one of the main competitors was hell-bent on destroying him. Literally. Always harsh words and violence ensued whenever their paths crossed. It was plain, they were soon headed for a showdown. A deadly one. It was inevitable. And what better place than a racetrack where anything goes. High speed bumper cars. Hot rod versus hot rod. Only one of them would leave the track.
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  • Beverly
    January 1, 1970
    Taylor Brown's book disappointed me. If he had started with Part VI and continued from there I would have been riveted, but as it was I had to meander through Parts I through V to get to the great ending. I even considered not finishing several times, because I really disliked his flowery prose style. I am glad I finished, because the ending was top notch.
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  • Jeannie
    January 1, 1970
    This was excellent, I really enjoyed it! I was sad when it ended. The descriptive writing made me feel like I was there in the mountains of North Carolina. Life in Howl Mountain is dark and intense. I could feel the cold air and the tension between the characters. Rory was my favorite character in this book, my heart ached for him. I liked Granny Mae too. This book reminded me of Winter's Bone, which I loved. I can see this being made into a movie."Dark came fast into the valleys, a flood of sha This was excellent, I really enjoyed it! I was sad when it ended. The descriptive writing made me feel like I was there in the mountains of North Carolina. Life in Howl Mountain is dark and intense. I could feel the cold air and the tension between the characters. Rory was my favorite character in this book, my heart ached for him. I liked Granny Mae too. This book reminded me of Winter's Bone, which I loved. I can see this being made into a movie."Dark came fast into the valleys, a flood of shadows, daylight cut ever shorter as the season stretched on. The trees cascaded skeleton like down from the mountaintops, pooling rust-crowned in the valleys, the leaves withering on the limb-ends like burning matchsticks. The air bore an edge, an October bite that promised harder cold."Thanks to St. Martin's Press for a copy in exchange for an honest review. I plan to read more books by Taylor Brown.
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  • Diane Barnes
    January 1, 1970
    Another brilliant book from Taylor Brown, although "Fallen Land", his first novel, remains my favorite. One thing you can say about him, he's not afraid to veer off into different territories and time periods.In this one it's 1950's in the NC mountains, an area near Boone, which factors heavily in the story. My father was from Boone, so I'm familiar with the area, which added to my enjoyment. He describes a car trip that Rory and his Grandmother made to Raleigh on Hwy 321. That's the same route Another brilliant book from Taylor Brown, although "Fallen Land", his first novel, remains my favorite. One thing you can say about him, he's not afraid to veer off into different territories and time periods.In this one it's 1950's in the NC mountains, an area near Boone, which factors heavily in the story. My father was from Boone, so I'm familiar with the area, which added to my enjoyment. He describes a car trip that Rory and his Grandmother made to Raleigh on Hwy 321. That's the same route we used going to visit my grandparents, and he described every twisty turn, switchback, and towering rock face just as I remembered it.Rory came home from Korea minus one leg, and learned to use his wooden one to drive souped up cars to be a moonshine runner. The birth of NASCAR had it's origin in those men, outrunning Revenuers in those cars. Junior Johnson, a real star of early stock car racing, has a cameo in one scene.But the real star of this novel is Granny May, not like any Granny you might be familiar with. Her hair is white and in a bun, but that's where any similarities end. The woman is a FORCE, and not someone you would want to cross.This book has a terrific ending, although it might take a little thought to "get it". All in all, a great read, and my third book of Taylor Brown's has me looking forward to more. Thanks to St. Martin's Press for the ARC that I won in a GR giveaway. This book will be published in March, 2018.
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