Two years ago Shad Jenkins went to prison for assaulting his sister's attacker. Now he has returned to the southern mountain town of Moon Run Hollow, only to find that Megan is dead. No one knows how she died-or why she was found on Gospel Trail Road, a dirt path leading up to the gorge high above the Chatalaha River, where victims of yellow fever were once brought to die.Navigating a world filled with abnormal children and clandestine snake handlers, one that is slowly being poisoned by illegal moonshine, Shad must pierce the townsfolk's superstitions and terrible secrets to find out the truth about his sister's death. But the Blood Dreams he's suffered from since childhood have taken on an eerie urgency, revealing to Shad the nightmarish form of an unseen adversary. Plagued by the wraiths that haunt the hollow, Shad finds himself increasingly unsure of his own sanity as he begins to piece together what may have happened to his sister-and who exactly his enemy is....
The investigation of a young girl's apparent murder takes a sharp turn into Twilight Zone territory in Piccirilli's moody follow-up to A Choir of Ill Children (a Stoker finalist). Shad Jenkins is serving out the final days of his two-year prison sentence when he's briefly visited by the ghost of his beloved little sister, Megan, who has just been found dead on a mountain road outside Moon Run Hollow, without a mark on her body. He returns home bent on bringing those responsible to justice, but all potential suspects have solid alibis. Ignoring warnings about the legendary miseries that haunt the mountains where Megan died, Shad takes to the hills to look for clues. His adventures among Tobacco Road moonshiners, snake-handling cultists, interbred grotesques and Bible-thumping fanatics interconnect for a sustained and unnerving evocation of the dark side of Appalachia. Piccirilli successfully blends character and incidents to conjure a spirit of the strange that plays a key role in the tale's surprising but fitting finale. In lieu of a tidy conclusion, this loose and episodic horror novel tantalizes with hints of awesome mysteries that defy complete understanding. (June) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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May 30, 2005
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Excerpt from November Mourns by Tom Piccirilli
You could always go home again, the trouble was getting back out.
Flames lit the surrounding banks of the Chatalaha River, which wound through the mountains in a whitecapped rush. Streams of orange and gold washed over rocks where centuries ago the Indians stoned their elderly in the shallows.
After nearly two years in the can, Shad Jenkins had returned to Moon Run Hollow and hit the first bonfire in the fields he heard about. He figured he'd see everybody there who might be interested, tell his story once and get it over with.
In the twenty-one months he'd been away nothing had changed except that Mags was dead.
He could've been gone for eighteen years, the way his pa had been, and still walked into the roadhouse and seen those gray faces hunched over the pitted bar, their breath making slow ripples in the scratched glasses of whiskey. The men telling the same mediocre stories that circled the place like crows that never set down, going around forever from one hoarse voice to another.
Fathers passed the tired tales to their sons and grandsons the way they bestowed their potbellies, sour-mash stills, and empty wallets. The tin-shack trailers, three acres of rock-cluttered pasture, and their taste for warm, flat beer and moonshine. In a few generations they had gone from being tradition to genetic.
What you really wanted, you could never have. You needed a tragic father to give your life meaning.