Gods of Howl Mountain by Taylor Brown

Gods of Howl Mountain by Taylor BrownGods of Howl Mountain by Taylor Brown
Published by St. Martin's Press on March 20th 2018
Pages: 304
Goodreads
two-stars

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.

I found this book a really frustrating experience to read. I really had no idea what was going on for most of the book, and although there is plenty of dramatic tension, and the sort of atmosphere you can chew on, the underlying plot doesn’t reveal itself until near the very end of the book. This is a kind of slice of life book if it was written by Stephen King, with a family of moonshiners living in the backwoods, doing their rednecky witchy things, competing against the forces of modernity which want to intrude on their happy little universe.

I thought this was going to be my kind of book, and in the end I was sadly mistaken. There are some excellent characters in the book, particularly the matriarch of the family – Granny – but I never really got the sense that the book was going anywhere. By the time I got to the explanation of the catalyst in the story, I was ready to be done with the book. If I was not reading it for review I definitely would have abandoned this well before the halfway mark.

I am sure that there are readers who will enjoy this sort of thing. I was expecting some sort of quasi-mystical redneck tale set in the backwoods of America, and I really don’t know what I got instead.

I received a review copy from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

two-stars
Rating Report
Plot
two-stars
Characters
four-stars
Writing
three-stars
Pacing
two-stars
Cover
three-stars
Overall: three-stars

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