ONCE A PERSON LEAVES THE MOUNTAIN, THEY NEVER COME BACK, NOT REALLY. THEY’RE LOST FOREVER.
Nellie Clay married Hobbs Pritchard without even noticing he was a spell conjured into a man, a walking, talking ghost story. But her mama knew. She saw it in her tea leaves: death. Folks told Nellie to get off the mountain while she could, to go back home before it was too late. Hobbs wasn’t nothing but trouble. He’d even killed a man. No telling what else. That mountain was haunted, and soon enough, Nellie would feel it too. One way or another, Hobbs would get what was coming to him. The ghosts would see to that. . . .
Told in the stunning voices of five women whose lives are inextricably bound when a murder takes place in rural Depression-era North Carolina, Ann Hite’s unforgettable debut spans generations and conjures the best of Southern folk-lore—mystery, spirits, hoodoo, and the incomparable beauty of the Appalachian landscape.
Set in a rural South Carolina town in the 1930s, Hite's deft debut, told through the perspectives of five women, offers vivid settings and characters. Seduced into marriage by the charismatic Hobbs Pritchard, 17-year-old Nellie Pritchard moves with him to Black Mountain, where she discovers her handsome, amiable husband is really a vicious, murderous bootlegger feared by the entire community. Worse still, Hobbs is haunted by the spirits of his victims, who soon begin to haunt Nellie, too. After Hobbs nearly beats her to death, she kills him and flees the mountain, journeying to Darien, Ga., to make a new life for herself. However, Hobbs isn't done with her, or with Rose Gardner, who was pregnant with Hobbs's baby before he disappeared. The novel's other narrators include Nellie's mother Josie Clay; Shelly Parker, who communicates with ghosts ; and Iona Harbor, who hears about Nellie and Hobbes as characters in her nightly bedtime story. While Hite misses the mark with some plot elements, the novel will intrigue readers eager for a Southern Gothic tale, and suggests a promising future for the Black Mountain novels to come.