Gods of Howl Mountain

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...

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Title:Gods of Howl Mountain
Author:Taylor Brown
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Edition Language:English

Gods of Howl Mountain Reviews

  • Elyse

    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 it

    remarkable- 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 it

    remarkable- 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

  • karen

    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

    which 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?

    ,

    ,

    - 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

    which 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?

    ,

    ,

    - they will burn their towns

    . they will probably burn

    town down.

    ,

    ,

    are not town-burners.

    is capricious- he will burn or abstain from burning as the mood strikes him.

    , 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.

    granny may is the clear star of the book, a complete badass spitfire that gets all the best lines

    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!

  • Paromjit

    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.

  • Norma * Traveling Sister

    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, 2018

    Thank 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:

  • Angela M

    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.

  • Linda

    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.

  • Diane S ☔

    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.

  • Debra

    “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

  • Berit☀️✨Traveling Sister✨

    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

    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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