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. Appalachian fiction has always had a connection between southern gothic and bootlegging, and it is mined to the fullest with this amazing novel.
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.
Author Taylor Brown grew up on the Georgia coast. His work has appeared in a wide range of publications, including The New York Times, The Rumpus, Garden & Gun, Chautauqua, The North Carolina Literary Review, and many others. He is the recipient of a Montana Prize in Fiction, and he’s been a finalist for the Press 53 Open Awards, Machigonne Fiction Contest, Wabash Prize in Fiction, Rick DeMarinis Short Story Contest, Dahany Fiction Prize, and Doris Betts Fiction Prize.