12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
More mountain magic,
By A Customer
This review is from: Ghost Riders (Hardcover)
Sharyn McCrumb's latest Ballad novel, "Ghost Riders," introduces several Civil War-era spirits who aren't quite ready to give up the fight. The story links historical unrest of the region with the lives of modern-day mountain settlers. As usual with McCrumb's work, the book contains a great deal of well-researched local mountain history delivered in a strong and interesting narrative.
The book incorporates real historical figures such as former North Carolina Gov. Zebulon Vance and the discorporate spirits of the "ghost riders" of the title. The Civil War comes alive in both not only its inglorious past but in its modern reenactment by thousands of hobbyist historians.
McCrumb's ancestors settled in the Smoky Mountains in the 1790s and her great-grandfathers were among the region's early circuit preachers. McCrumb still has that "preachering" in her blood, though her sermons are delivered with wit, charm, and great doses of delight.
Though her themes are broad in scope, the reader happily travels several different trails and time lines to end up in one location. From the slopes of Grandfather Mountain to the summer home of a misplaced Floridian, McCrumb paints a true picture of an Appalachian mountain region that has never had a single identity but rather harbores a large collection of individual identities.
Unlike many writers who find a winning groove, McCrumb has consistently improved as a writer over her career and continues to challenge herself with intense research and complex plots. Also unlike some writers who manage to "improve," she doesn't outwrite the patience of her readers, remembering from her Appalachian roots that first and foremost a storyteller is obligated to tell a story. "Ghost Riders" may be the best book yet among her litany of successes.