Book Review: GODS OF HOWL MOUNTAIN by Taylor Brown

I loved this book! (This is the third Taylor Brown novel I’ve read, and I am convinced I will read anything this author writes). The language in GODS OF HOWL MOUNTAIN — and in all of his books — is poetic and lyrical, and in each of his novels, he creates an incredible sense of place that transports the reader.

For example:

She drew again from her pipe, the wind speaking to her through the trees. It spoke of cold in the months to come, of forests laid naked to the bone, and she let it fill her nose with the hard bite of woodsmoke. The folds of the hills glinted here and there, secret fires sparking through the leaf-thinned trees.


The sky looked ice-glittered, a black veil cast over the sleeping ridges.


The trees cascaded down from the mountaintops, skeletonlike, pooling rust-crowned in the valleys.

So, yes, I was whisked away to the mountains of North Carolina – hearing, feeling, smelling, tasting every bit of it. This novel is an excellent example of setting as character. So. Well. Done. And speaking of characters … They are fully realized, flawed, with believable dialect. Granny May and Rory will stay with me for a long, long time to come.

Aside from this being a remarkable story about family bonds, the after-effects of war, struggles with faith, and loyalty and love, I learned much about folk healing, alternative religion, the boot-legging culture and the subsequent stock car phenomenon that resulted (think NASCAR) from whiskey running. But don’t shy away if cars and whiskey don’t entice you (ladies). Brown provides just the right amount of detail about these subjects while he focuses on rounding out his characters and providing an enticing mystery. You will adore the tough-as-nails Granny May.

I personally enjoyed the car references when they were included, as they reminded me of the various car shows my father took me to as a child. My dad’s own sense of awe and wonder at the under-the-hood workings of cars is the same exhibited by Rory and Eli in this book.

If you enjoy literary fiction, historical fiction (this is set during the 1950s), strong female characters, gorgeous literary language (strong, active verbs and word choices throughout), and a bit of mystery, GODS OF HOWL MOUNTAIN is a book you should read!

Many thanks to Taylor Brown. I won a copy of his book through a Shelf Awareness contest he hosted. Thanks to the publisher for allowing me to provide an honest review.

Of Note: For a brief moment, I swear I saw on Goodreads, mention of Brown’s next book, and that it is set at an animal rescue/sanctuary. Well, hello!! Animals. Gorgeous writing. Exceptional characters. I’m IN!!! (Though I can no longer find the book description and hope this was not just wishful thinking on my part).

(A version of Melissa Crytzer Fry’s review of GODS OF HOWL MOUNTAIN by Taylor Brown was published at GoodReads on May 29, 2018. It is reposted here with the permission of the reviewer.)



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