The Storycatcher

Written by Ann Hite
Review by Anne Clinard Barnhill

In her first novel, Ghost on Black Mountain, Hite explored the culture of the Appalachian Mountains during the Great Depression through the voices of five women. In her new book, she returns to Black Mountain during the same time period to tell the story of Shelley Parker, a sixteen-year-old servant for Pastor Dobbins, the local minister, and Faith Dobbins, his daughter. You would think such a job would be a good one, but Dobbins is a dark character. We are told by Armetta Lolly, the ghost who is attached to Pastor Dobbins, that he is part of a family that “had a dark streak that ran way on back to the time I lived and breathed.” The story doesn’t stay on Black Mountain in this book, however; Shelley and Faith are drawn all the way to the Georgia coast.

The Storycatcher is told in shifting points of view, all women, but from varying times: some in the 1930s, others back in the 1800s. Besides the human folk who live on the mountain, many ghosts reside there as well. Some of the ghosts even take over human bodies. Though there is a genealogy chart in the front of the book, because of all the characters (living and dead) the book can become a little confusing. However, Hite evokes the mystery on the mountain elegantly.