A book about Appalachian supernatural stuff
No joke, this author's name is "Manly Wade Wellman"
I kept messing up his name and saying “Well-Made Manly Man” but that’s wrong.
Someone in WriterDojo mentioned this, so I grabbed it from the library. It’s short and good. Wellman wrote horror with a supernatural bent and an American setting, but sort of in the classic Gothic vein of the genre. Just creepy enough to keep you worried but interested.
His writing is also big on informing the reader about different areas of theology and the occult. In this case you’ve got everything from 13th century Christianity, to pre-Roman Bretonic druidism and ancient Cherokee lore, all wrapped up in one big car crash of a story.
The plot is straightforward: some druidic hillbillies are digging around in North Carolina to dredge up an old god of their religion, acquire power, etc. They trespass onto some good Christian folks’ land in the process. Hillbilly honor gonna hillbilly honor, and soon they’re just about dueling.
Our traveling man John finds himself in the middle of it, and goes to work resolving it. Along the way, the druids capture a good Christian woman, so John and the Christian bois team up with a Cherokee medicine man whose gods are also in the area. They all face off.
It also appears to be part of a larger series called Silver John. Chances are I will check out more. Wellman died in 1986 and this story was originally published in 1979. He concluded the rest of the series in 1984, the year I was born, so that endears it to me a little.
That said, most of the Silver John tales are short stories, and the other novels aren’t yet available on audio, so I’d have to get them in print at some point. Another neat fact: they made a movie about the character in 1974, and the cast featured the late great Denver Pyle. He wasn’t in the lead role. Fans of The Dukes of Hazzard will know him as Uncle Jesse, and I love me some Dukes.
Anyway, this was good and short and endearing. Worth the listen.
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