Category Archives: Historical

C.K. Volnek. Ghost Dog of Roanoke Island. United States: Spark Books, 2011.

ghostdogofroanokeIt feels like fate when Jack Dahlgren’s family inherits his great-aunt Ruth’s home on Roanoke Island in North Carolina. His dad has lost his job, and all the family’s savings are gone. But twelve-year-old Jack doesn’t want to live on Roanoke Island, especially in a house that the kids at school say is haunted. He also feels responsible for his little sister’s accidental fall off of a nearby sea cliff, which put her in a hospital in Raleigh. On top of everything, a hurricane is bearing down on the Outer Banks, howling like a monster.

…Or is it a hurricane? There’s definitely some stormy weather, but there’s also something dark and scary living in the woods near the Dahlgrens’ new house. When Jack investigates, he finds a mysterious, vanishing mastiff, and something much wilder. Later, Jack meets and befriends their Algonquin neighbor, Manny Braboy, who explains it all– the evil living in Jack’s woods is a Witiku: a demon summoned by the natives of Roanoke Island in the sixteenth century to rid the island of all invaders. Incredibly, Manny tells Jack that he, Jack, must be the one to defeat the Witiku. The twelve-year old is skeptical, but when Manny takes him back to the sixteenth century to observe the events of the Lost Colony unfold, he begins to believe. Will Jack defeat the Wikitu? Will Roanoke Island finally be at peace? Will Jack ever be happy in his new home?

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Children & Young Adults, Coast, Dare, Historical, Science Fiction/Fantasy, Volnek, C. K.

Maurice Stanley. Midwinter: A Novel of the Frankie Silver Murder. Wilmington, NC: Whittler’s Bench Press, 2007.

History tells us that Frances “Frankie” Silver of Morganton, North Carolina, murdered her husband Charlie during a fight in late December of 1831. According to Frankie, Charlie Silver had been loading his musket in a jealous rage at the time in order to kill her.  Perhaps it is the whim of fate, and the expediency of axes over that of early 19th century firearms, that Frankie lived and Charlie died. Although the murderess attempted to conceal her actions, it’s said that she regretted his death bitterly. Eventually, however, Charlie’s family found her out, and Frankie was executed by hanging in the summer of 1833.

Maurice Stanley’s account of this infamous tale, long part of North Carolina mountain lore, is part historical fact, part fictional characterization, and part ghost story. He takes the perspective of various persons reputedly involved in the affair, including that of Frankie and Charlie’s families, the ill-fated couple themselves, and local law enforcement. He renders an imaginative retelling of this well-known classic, and provides a comprehensive list of resources for anyone interested in the historical accounts. But one thing will never be settled by reading newspaper stories or first-hand reports: do the vengeful ghosts of Frankie and Charlie Silver still walk the earth to this day?

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog. For more information on Frankie Silver and her story, come by the North Carolina Collection and discover our historical sources, including the official court record from the Morganton News-Herald.

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2007, Burke, Historical, Mountains, Stanley, Maurice, Suspense/Thriller

Stephanie McCoy. Sweet as Cane. Berkeley, CA: Pen & Mouse Books, 2012.

Marrow is a small, fictional town in North Carolina, somewhere between the Triangle and the Atlantic Ocean. In 1957, it still clings to many of the thoughts and traditions that have been at its core for the last century. This includes the practice of photographing deceased loved ones as if they were still among the living– babies in particular. No one is more skilled in this morbid photography than Cane Walker, the daughter of the town’s (surprisingly female) mortician.

At a healthy twenty-three years, one would expect Cane to be married with a family of her own. But a tragic accident during her birth left her with a scarred and disfigured face. Neither life nor the townsfolk have been kind to Cane, who finds her raison d’etre behind the safe, concealing disguise of a camera lens. She has a gift for composing a photograph so good that it brings a dead child back to life, at least for a time. While the town inhabitants ridicule her face, they cannot deny her talent– every mother who loses a child wants a photograph from the mysterious Miss Walker. Unfortunately, Cane has a bad habit of stealing small keepsakes from the little bodies before they go next-door to her mother, Darleen, for burial. A pin here, a letter there– Cane herself isn’t sure why she steals, only that it is part of her process. But Cane’s life is about to change, and although they don’t realize it, the community around her will also change as a result.

Told through the eyes of different residents in the small town, from rich to poor and black to white, Sweet as Cane follows the little tragedies of daily life in a more unforgiving time.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2012, Coastal Plain, Historical, McCoy, Stephanie, Novels Set in Fictional Places

William F. Kaiser. Bloodroot. Deep Gap, NC: Bloodroot Books, 2007.

It’s 1860, and Billy Jack Truehill thinks he’s a goner for sure. Bitten by a giant rattlesnake while hunting alone in the North Carolina mountains, the tough woodsman knows he’s likely to perish. But Providence must smile on Billy Jack, for instead of dying in the forest, he stumbles onto the Widow Johnson’s humble homestead.

Elvira May Johnson was gently raised in New York City, where she was married off to the affluent Methodist preacher, Reverend Hiram Johnson. At twenty years her senior, Reverend Johnson was not her ideal match, but Elvira May bowed to the wishes of her father and brothers. But a sudden, unexplained assignment to a parish in western North Carolina meant Elvira May was uprooted from all she knew and loved, and taken out of civilization into the mountain wilds. Yet, the twenty-four-year old Elvira proved stronger than anyone thought, learning herb-lore from local granny-women and how to care for her humble living space. When Hiram died, the self-sufficient Elvira was more than prepared to cope on her own. Or at least she thought she was, until the day Billy Jack falls over in her cornfield.

Elvira heals Billy Jack’s snakebite, and it doesn’t take long for them to begin courting. Unfortunately, the day they marry is just after the formation of the Confederacy, and it doesn’t take long for the simmering mountain communities to boil over. Now Elvira and Billy Jack must fight to defend their country, their neighbors, and their very lives. But can a young woman with strong ideas about abolition and a young man with a stubborn streak a mile wide survive in the wartime mountain wilds for five years? With bandits, soldiers, and feuding neighbors roaming the highlands, it will take a lot more providence to see them through.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2007, Historical, Kaiser, William F., Mountains, Novels Set in Fictional Places

Terry Roberts. A Short Time to Stay Here. Banner Elk, NC: Ingalls Publishing Group, 2012.

Western North Carolina and eastern Tennessee in 1917 wasn’t the “rural, undeveloped South” of northern newspaper articles; it was a land far beyond. It was a place of the steepest mountains, the wildest river gorges, the meanest lives, and the shortest winter rations in the country. It was deep, hard, lonesome, and –if you weren’t starving to death–beautiful.  

Stephen Robbins has been running the glamorous Mountain Park Hotel in Hot Springs, North Carolina for seven years. An insomniac, alcoholic widower, Stephen is devoted to his hotel and the people who work with him, confessing that he feels physically one with the elegant architecture. But Stephen’s life is about to change radically. World War I finds its way to the Mountain Park Hotel in the form of 2,000 German nationals, trapped in the United States after the declaration of war. Forced to turn the hotel into an internment camp, Stephen thinks he has more than he can handle. Not only is he expected to babysit 2,000 Germans, but he also has to keep the increasingly bloodthirsty townsfolk of Hot Springs from violence, especially his violent cousin Roy, who just happens to be the Sheriff. Sheriff Roy Robbins has no reason to love Stephen– thanks to a terrible mistake, Stephen shot and killed Roy’s brother a few years back. Roy is biding his time for revenge, and Stephen knows it.

Then Anna Ulmann, New York photographer, steps into the impending catastrophe. Fleeing a domineering husband in the North, she has also come south with a very real desire to photograph the internees in their prison. Stephen is by turns annoyed and attracted to the beautiful Anna, but he can’t help falling in love with her. Together, the two stand against escapees, typhoid, bodies arriving from the European front, and society’s own mandates against a married woman falling in love with a man who is not her husband. With blood feuds and angry husbands lying in wait, will Anna and Stephen survive the coming storm?

Written in descriptive, intelligent prose, this debut novel is a moving tale of finding love and empathy in a time of conflict, and what it means to be a prisoner in spirit, even if the body is free.

A Short Time to Stay Here was the winner of the 2013 Sir Walter Raleigh Award.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2012, Historical, Madison, Mountains, Roberts, Terry, Romance/Relationship

Marcia Gruver. Raider’s Heart. Uhrichsville, OH: Barbour Publishing, 2011.

Back in the early 1850s, Silas McRae was a no-good thief and a charlatan. He had to be: despite having the surname name “McRae” he and his family, like other Lumbee residents of Robeson County, North Carolina, were looked down on and scorned by most North Carolinians. Now it’s 1871, and as an older man with a family, Silas regrets his thieving ways. But his greatest regret is the loss of a beautiful golden lamp, stolen from a rich Fayetteville home one fateful night in 1852. Silas has told the tale repeatedly to his two boys, Hooper and Duncan: how beautiful the lamp was, and how Silas was sure that its strange shape held a genie that would answer all of his problems. When Hooper and Duncan hear from a cousin that the lamp might have found its way to the family of a wealthy local planter, how can they resist stopping by to acquire it?

It seems like a simple job of thievery, but the boys don’t count on the feisty Dawsey Wilkes, the (supposedly) gently raised daughter of Colonel Gerrard Wilkes. Dawsey apprehends the criminals in the act of stealing her father’s precious lamp, but the situation goes terribly awry for all parties involved, and somehow the McRaes end up kidnapping Dawsey. But the trouble is just beginning. When the McRaes arrive home in Scuffletown with Dawsey, they discover that she is the spitting image of their little sister Ellie, who is exactly the same age. Are the two girls twins? And could the beautiful, haughty Dawsey ever fall for the likes of Hooper McRae? What unfolds is a tale of danger, unexpected family, and romance. This first novel in Gruver’s Backwoods Brides series charts a stormy course through the racially charged history of Reconstruction era Robeson County.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

 

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Gruver, Marcia, Historical, Novels in Series, Piedmont, Robeson, Romance/Relationship

Suzanne Adair. Regulated for Murder.[United States: CreateSpace], 2011.

It’s 1781 in Wilmington, North Carolina, and Lieutenant Michael Stoddard has just kicked down the door of a traitorous land agent named Horatio Bowater, when his commanding officer abruptly pulls him away. Michael is furious, especially since his role as chief investigating officer will now go to his young assistant, but Major Craig is adamant that he needs Stoddard for something else. Unfortunately, Michael’s new mission is that of a lowly courier: Craig wants him to deliver a message to a man working for Lord Cornwallis in Hillsborough, far away from the bustling seaport of Wilmington. So Stoddard reluctantly disguises himself for the dangerous journey across a colony in the throes of a revolution. But this mission will be far less simple, and far more perilous, than he thought.

When Michael arrives in Orange County, he finds the man he’s supposed to meet, a Mr. Griggs, has been murdered. More than that, the county sheriff is a corrupt and devious man, and he’s bent on finding out who Michael is and why he has come to Hillsborough. Michael takes refuge with a local woman and her daughter, posing as a nephew, but he doesn’t have much time to find out what happened to Griggs before the sheriff discovers his true identity. Unfortunately, an old nemesis picks this as the perfect time to come to town: the sadistic Duncan Fairfax of His Majesty’s Seventeenth Light Dragoons. The last time they met, Stoddard barely escaped with his life…and Fairfax remembers him all too well. Will Michael solve Griggs’s murder and avoid his own?

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill library catalog.

 

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Adair, Suzanne, Coast, Historical, New Hanover, Orange, Piedmont, Suspense/Thriller

Suzanne Adair. Camp Follower. [United States: CreateSpace], 2008.

At age seventeen in 1768, lowborn Helen Grey was sold in marriage to an old, corpulent merchant bound for the Americas. Her saving grace was her disgusting husband’s educated assistant, Jonathan Quill, who had to play Pygmalion to her Galatea in order to make Helen presentable for the aristocracy in the colonies. Now, twelve years later and nine years widowed, Helen is fighting to survive in wartime Wilmington, North Carolina. After her husband’s demise in a duel, his monetary estate mysteriously vanished, leaving Helen near penniless. She now ekes out a meager existence taking in embroidery work for wealthy ladies and writing a small society column in a Loyalist magazine.

Then Helen’s editor comes to her with a proposition: if she poses as the sister of a British officer in His Majesty’s Seventeenth Light Dragoons, Helen could get close to Britain’s hero of the hour, Colonel Banastre Tarleton, and write a hard-to-acquire feature. Colonel Tarleton doesn’t approve of journalists, so Helen’s mission would be completely covert. But there is more beneath the surface of this apparently simple mission than meets the eye, and soon Helen is up to her neck in danger, intrigue, colonial spy rings, and the attentions of three separate men, one of whom is supposed to be posing as her brother. Traveling through a wild back country overrun with rebels, it’s possible that Helen’s greatest danger lies in the men supposedly protecting her best interests. Set in both North and South Carolina and concluding with the tactically decisive Battle of Cowpens, this romantic historical thriller combines an exciting time in the history of the United States with lots of imagination.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2008, Adair, Suzanne, Coast, Historical, New Hanover, Piedmont, Romance/Relationship

William F. Kaiser. Hellebore. Vilas, NC: Canterbury House Publishing, 2011.

In this rousing sequel to Bloodroot, the Civil War has ended and peace has been declared. Billy Jack Truehill and his wife Elvira May have retired to a small farm deep in the high mountains of fictional Afton County, North Carolina. But while peace may be the official state of the once more United States, life is far from peaceful in a North Carolina undergoing Reconstruction. Billy Jack must face raiders from both the former Union and Confederate armies, an ongoing feud with the treacherous McBigger clan who killed his parents, and the willful ways of his own wife, who insists that in order to be a true husband, Billy Jack must always stay by her side. Unfortunately for Billy Jack, veteran of two armies and a seasoned hunter and tracker, the pastoral tranquility of farming is not very exciting. He longs to once more take to the Blue Ridge as the wild, fierce mountain man he knows himself to be at heart. But soon he’ll have all the excitement he can stand, as a terrible new power known as the Ku Klux Klan begins to rise and wreak havoc on an already destitute community. Billy Jack must once again take up arms to defend his life, his family, and what he knows to be right.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Historical, Kaiser, William F., Mountains, Novels in Series, Novels Set in Fictional Places

Ron Rash. The Cove. New York: Ecco, 2012.

It’s 1918, and the United States is knee-deep in the First World War. Everyone feels the effects, even in a place as far away from Europe as Mars Hill, North Carolina. Food and good hired help are scarce, and local boys are dieing in the killing fields across the sea. Those who don’t come home in a box return maimed or shocked, like Hank Shelton. Missing his right hand, Hank learns to perform the same tasks as a man with two hands and does a good job running the farm where he and his sister Laurel live in the Cove. He even plans on marrying pretty Carolyn Weatherbee. But the Cove is cursed, and while Hank Shelton might be a war hero and an all-American boy, the good people of Mars Hill are inclined to believe that Laurel, with her large purple birthmark, is a witch.

Laurel is used to this kind of talk. Tormented as a child and blamed for all manner of ill things, she has learned to keep her peace when she can and fight back when she can’t. But it’s a lonely existence, and she looks forward to Hank’s marriage and having Carolyn as a sister. Then one day, she finds a stranger in the Cove: a young, mute vagabond stung by yellow jackets to the point of death. Despite Hank’s suspicions, Laurel nurses the man, whose name is Walter, back to health and he soon becomes an indispensable helper on the farm. Even better, Walter plays the small silver flute he carries with him with surpassing skill and beauty. Laurel is surprised to discover, one day, that she is in love with Walter– and he returns her feelings. The outcast witch of the Cove is happier than she ever dared hope.

But Walter carries a dark secret, and as hatred and anger at the war build in Mars Hill, the young couple’s romance–and possibly their lives–might end in tragedy. A beautifully written tale of love and loss, Rash examines the superstition and intolerance of a very different time, leaving the reader with a poignant message that is nevertheless relevant today.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2012, Historical, Madison, Mountains, Rash, Ron, Romance/Relationship