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She Walks These Hills by Sharyn McCrumb Review

Title: She Walks These Hills

Author: Sharyn McCrumb

First published January 1, 1994

448 pages, Paperback

ISBN: 9780451184726 (ISBN10: 0451184726)

Rating: 4.1


In the small town of Black Mountain, North Carolina, rumors of a ghostly figure have been circulating for years. Legend has it that the ghost is that of a young woman named Lily, who disappeared without a trace over a century ago.

But when a young girl goes missing in the town, local cop Spencer Arrowood and a psychic named Norah find themselves drawn into a mystery that seems to be linked to the town’s haunted past. As they delve deeper into the case, they discover that the truth is far more sinister than anyone could have imagined, and that the ghost of Lily may not be the only thing that haunts the hills of Black Mountain.

About the Author

Sharyn McCrumb is a talented Southern writer who has won many awards for her Appalachian novels, known as the “Ballad” series. Her books include The Ballad of Tom Dooley, The Ballad of Frankie Silver, and The Songcatcher, which have all been New York Times bestsellers.

McCrumb’s Ghost Riders won both the Wilma Dykeman Award for Literature from the East Tennessee Historical Society and the national Audie Award for Best Recorded Books. Her latest novel, The Unquiet Grave, is a well-researched tale about West Virginia’s Greenbrier Ghost, and will be published by Atria, a division of Simon & Schuster, in September.

McCrumb has received many honors, including being named a Virginia Woman of History by the Library of Virginia and a Woman of the Arts by the national Daughters of the American Revolution. In 2014, she was awarded the Mary Hobson Prize for Arts & Letters.

Her books have been recognized as New York Times and Los Angeles Times Notable Books. McCrumb has presented programs at universities, libraries, and other organizations throughout the US.

She has also taught a writers workshop in Paris, and served as writer-in-residence at King University in Tennessee and at the Chautauqua Institute in western New York.

Editoral Review

Sharyn McCrumb’s She Walks These Hills, a mystery novel that was first published on January 1, 1994, provides an intricate exploration of place and people. McCrumb creates a beautifully crafted and contemplative exploration of the Appalachian Mountains, encapsulating the connection between the people and the land.

The author portrays the authentic flavors and colors of the Appalachian Mountains while exploring universal aspects of humanity: grief, bigotry, life, and death.

The plot follows the case of an unidentified body found in the Appalachian Mountains, which captures the attention of Sheriff Spencer Arrowood.

The discovery leads to a search for a runaway Cherokee woman, whose fate is unknown. The book uses this mystery as a lens for exploring the history of the Cherokee Nation, whose forced removal from their land is a significant theme throughout the story.

The chief protagonist of the story is Amelia, who is the last person to see the missing woman alive. Wrapped in the complexities of the case, Amelia sets out to find the lost woman, discovering pieces of the nineteenth-century Cherokee tragedy along the way.

McCrumb employs an expert hand in weaving the setting into the story, making it feel like a central character. The mountain terrain and its people’s unique cultures and traditions are as essential to the story as the characters’ personalities.

The author also presents historical and cultural elements related to the area, bringing to light the terrible chapter that is often overlooked in history books: the Trail of Tears. McCrumb’s emphasis on the Cherokee Nation’s history suggests the need to remember those moments, even if it is painful.

The pace of the book is leisurely but purposeful, with the characters and setting taking center stage. The author masterfully introduces multiple narratives that highlight the characters’ backgrounds and motivations.

While building the characters, the author tackles sensitive issues such as systemic racism and assimilation in a complex and nuanced way. The way McCrumb incorporates the themes of the past’s forgotten history and modern society’s actions is impressive, making it an excellent book for contemporary readers.

The shortcomings of the book are few, if any. Some readers might find the leisurely pace too slow, but the subtlety of the story merits the patience.

The character development was excellent, and the author succeeded in engaging the audience throughout the book, leaving them wanting more in the end.

In conclusion, She Walks These Hills by Sharyn McCrumb is a beautifully crafted book that explores the prevalence of history in contemporary society.

This well-written book is rich with local color and history, offering a unique perspective on the Appalachian Mountains and a forgotten history. The book is recommended for fans of literary fiction and mystery novels who are looking for a poignant plot and a robust sense of place.

This book earns a score of ten out of ten for its complex characters, skillful storytelling, and memorable themes.