review: Sleeping Above Chaos

sleepingabovechaosSleeping Above Chaos
by Ann Hite
A Black Mountain Novel

Set in North Carolina in the 1940’s and 50’s, this ghostly family saga begins and ends with one man’s miserable wrath over an entire town, and those courageous enough to defy him. Paul Allen is an emotionally explosive and controlling reprobate with ties to the KKK and politicians in his pocket. His daughter, Ella Ruth, who lost her mother under dubious circumstances when she was very young, discovers she has a maternal aunt in a convalesce center nearby. As she learns about her mother’s past, a defiance sparks inside her that will challenge the unspoken rules set forth by her father, and in the process bring light to the past that has haunted her for so many years.

This story, which is compulsively readable, follows several characters through the tail end of the Great Depression, into WWII and beyond. As it steadily builds, intertwining the lives of Ella Ruth and the sheriff’s sons, Buster and Lee, the reader is pulled in and subsequently delivered a heartrending blow (a few times over), which seems to be this author’s specialty–along with the hauntingly beauiful writing, of course! The Black Mountain series is highly recommended for those looking for Southern historical fiction, ghostly tales, or a satisfying multi-book saga.

Ann Hite’s Black Mountain novels began with Ghost on Black Mountain, which pulls the reader into a world of spirits and Appalachian lore. Continuing with The Storycatcher, Lowcountry Spirit, and Where the Souls Go, there’s plenty of southern Gothic appeal with this series.

ghostonblackmountainGhost on Black Mountain

book description

“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.”

thestorycatcherThe Storycatcher

book description

“From the author of the “wonderfully crafted” (San Francisco Book Review) Ghost on Black Mountain comes a haunting gothic novel set in the Depression-era South about two young women who form an unlikely alliance when the spirit of a dead woman takes up residence in their home.

Shelly Parker never much liked Faith Dobbins, the uppity way that girl bossed her around. But they had more in common than she knew. Shelly tried to ignore the haints that warned her Faith’s tyrannical father, Pastor Dobbins, was a devil in disguise. But when Faith started acting strange, Shelly couldn’t avoid the past—not anymore.

Critically acclaimed, award-winning author Ann Hite beckons readers back to the Depression-era South, from the saltwater marshes of Georgia’s coast to the whispering winds of North Carolina’s mystical Black Mountain, in a mesmerizing gothic tale about the dark family secrets that come back to haunt us.”

lowcountryspiritLowcountry Spirit

book description

“A haunting historical eNovella about three slave girls with mystical powers living on an eerie island off the coast of Georgia, whose lives intertwine in their quest for freedom.

Meet Emmaline, Celestia, and Liza, three slave girls on a haunted barrier island in Georgia lowcountry.

Emmaline is a mouthy, stubborn young woman who has magic in her blood and conjures the strongest spells with hardly any effort. Celestia was ten when her mother was sold and taken from the island. She’s never stopped longing for her, even when the talking chain—a verbal underground railroad—sends word that her mother has been taken to a plantation in North Carolina. By the time she turns sixteen, she can no longer bring her mother’s face to mind, but she can still hear her urging Celestia to be thankful and keep safe. Liza was a birthday gift to the plantation’s mistress. Her mama was killed for throwing a spell on her master. Before she died she gave Liza her book of conjures, so she could protect herself. And when Liza hatches a plan for all three of them to escape, the three girls’ lives collide. What they don’t realize is that their chances of successfully escaping are slim, and the possibility that all three will die before they leave the island is more likely…”

wherethesoulsgoWhere the Souls Go

book description

“At the age of ten, Annie Todd finds not only is her mother quite mad but that Annie has inherited an unusual legacy. The ghost of a young girl visits Annie in her new home deep in the mountains of Western North Carolina, where Annie’s mother, Grace Jean, has hidden them away from the life they used to know. Annie finds an unlikely ally in Pearl, a young woman who keeps house in Annie’s new home. The secrets that surround Pearl take Annie’s mind off her loneliness and soon her family history is revealed to her. “Instead of wind, I heard my name being called. The whispery voice came from the woods. ‘Annie Todd’. My sixth sense had not yet kicked in and didn’t warn me I was standing on the backbone of my history.” WHERE THE SOULS GO is Ann Hite’s third novel set in Black Mountain, North Carolina. Readers who loved GHOST ON BLACK MOUNTAIN, Hite’s first novel, will find many of the characters familiar. This book follows three generations of the Pritchard family, not only telling the story of how Hobbs Pritchard became the villain of Black Mountain, but highlighting women’s struggles in Appalachia, beginning in the Depression Era and ending in the mid-sixties.”